June 26, 2017
Even the fickle Assen weather couldn’t stop Turkish 13-year-old Can Öncü matching his Saturday domination with another consummate win in Sunday’s Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Race 2. Joining him on the damp podium again were Aleix Viu and Kazuki Masaki.
Rain showers hung in the air as start time approached so a wet race was called and the distance shortened from 16 to 14 laps with the certainty that the Dunlop wet tyres would go the distance even if the rain stayed away.
Can Öncü looked at the sky, felt the sprinkle of rain and made a plan. “I knew that it really might rain heavily and I am not so good in the wet so I thought I would push as much as possible while the track was dry. So I went for it from the start and built as much of a lead as I could.”
Though a misty drizzle hung around it was only right at the end that a heavier shower really wetted he track. “Suddenly it was slippery at a couple of corners, I was a bit lucky, had a big slide but stayed on the bike,” admitted Öncü. “I slowed down, I knew I had a big gap and could still win. I was going to win but I also wasn’t going to risk crashing so I eased off and it worked out.”
“I am so happy for these two wins and I know that next weekend in Germany my brother can continue to improve and I think we can both be on the podium there,” enthused Can, doubly happy to see his twin brother Deniz take an excellent 5th after a race long battle in the huge chasing group.
At the front of that group was points leader Viu and the 16-year-old Spaniard did a superb job of recovering from a terrible first couple of laps. “Yes, my start was good, I was second at the first corner but I had no feeling for the bike at all and I just went backwards. I was back to tenth I think before I started to make sense of how the wet tyres were working on the dry track.”
“Then I started to go forward, but the group was well ahead, it took me a time to catch them, then to work my way to the front. I got a little bit of a gap and then it started to rain more over the last few laps and I could see I was catching Öncü. There wasn’t enough time to get with him but second is very important. Next weekend I’m also going to be fast in the first laps and then we’ll see what happens,” he concluded with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
Good race for some
Masaki, the 16-year-old Japanese rode another great race for his third podium in four races but was kind enough to count himself lucky. “It was a very difficult race, the way the tyres were working was strange and it took a while for me to feel good about that. It was again a great battle and I was pushing as hard as I could, was in fifth place and I thought that I would finish there but it started to rain and two riders fell off ahead of me and I got third, I’m certainly happy with that.”
The two fallers were Walid Soppe, the 17-year-old Dutchman who was towards the front of the pack all race and 14-year-old Spaniard Adrián Carrasco who had done a great job of charging through from 12th to 4th only to be caught out by the late shower. Caught out at the final chicane were the German heroes, 16-year-old Matthias Meggle and 17-year-old Kevin Orgis who both slid off within sight of the line.
Thrilled to pick up 4th was Colombian 17-year-old Steward Garcia, “I’m so happy with that, it was a very hard race, very hard on the rain tyres and they were well worn by the end when it really started to rain so over the last couple of laps it was very slippery.”