The twelfth Red Bull Rookies Cup season got underway in Jerez on Tuesday with the preseason test and 25 of the world’s fastest teenagers blowing out the winter cobwebs on the Moto3 spec KTMs.
The first races are not until the Gran Premio Red Bull de España in Jerez on May 5th and 6th but there was enormous enthusiasm to get on with the preparations. “It’s great to be back on the KTM” enthused 16-year-old Japanese Ryusei Yamanaka. “It’s a bit different to the bike I train on in Japan, the engine braking is different but after a few laps it was OK. I was happy with the way I was riding on new tyres but on a used tyre I need to adapt a bit and the setting should also improve. I’m feeling very good though and looking forward to the rest of the test.”
Pace even though no Race
Filip Salač was quickly up to speed, joined later by Sean Kelly and the Öncü twins Deniz and Can. Salač started last year as one of the Cup favourites but after a great Grand Prix in Jerez where he finished fourth and second, a non Cup crash ruined his season. So the 16-year-old Czech is looking forward to an excellent year. “I’m so happy to be back on the KTM and it feels great. I took it easy early on, running in the engine but then really started to enjoy myself. We had a couple of technical issues to sort out but there are no big changes we need to make to the bike, I feel good on it and the next few days will be really fun.”
Dan Jones, the 16-year-old Welshman has done a lot of work since his Cup debut a year ago. “My riding style has changed a lot and I am already faster than I was at the Grand Prix here last season. It’s really working and talking to Gustl and Dani [Rider coaches Gustl Auinger and Dani Ribalta] makes a lot of difference. I’m happy to be fully fit again and really enjoying it.”
Learning and turning
Danish 16-year-old Simon Jespersen is starting his first Cup season. “It’s difficult, the level is very high but every time I go out I’m making progress, the lap times are coming down and I’m happy with that. I ride in the CEV on a KTM but there are still a few differences between the bikes that I need to get used to. I also need to get the bike to turn in better, I am losing time there. Really I just need more kilometres on this bike and I will do that over the next few days.”
Tuesday was all about settling in and there is time to press on Wednesday, then a rest day on Thursday before the third track day on Friday.