Bright sunshine blessed the 3rd and final day of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup test in Estoril, Portugal.
Fastest overall was Kyle Ryde and the 15 year old Briton was less than a 10th faster than German 15 year old Florian Alt who was in turn just a fraction ahead of Czech 15 year old sensation Karel Hanika. Only 3 seconds separate 1st to 24th.
"I was smiling," said Ryde. "Because I knew I'd done a good lap on Tuesday but really the most important thing was that we've got the bike set up. We made more progress here in three days than we did in the whole of last year. It's hard to explain why, I guess its's just that I've got the confidence now to try different things," explained the British 125 Champion.
Alt was similarly happy with things after also setting his best time on Tuesday. "The wind was a small problem today," admitted Alt on Thursday. "It didn't trouble me too much. The grip was better today than earlier in the week but then the tyres started to fade, we had done too many kilometres on them. For the final session we had new tyres front and rear so we were all determined to set a good time but it was just a bit too much wind."
The most notable of those that did set their best time on the windier final day was Hanika. "I've really enjoyed the testing here. The KTM is better than bikes I have ridden before and I was very pleased that I could get on with it so quickly, I felt comfortable and we got good settings, it all went very well. There are a lot of fast riders here though and I know it is going to be a very tough season."
Malaysian 15 year old Hafiq Azmi was 4th fastest. "I wasn't happy because I had a crash but otherwise things went well, we have a good bike set up and I like the track, the chicane particularly is a lot of fun."
Local hero Ivo Lopes shrugged off a grazed eye, sustained when a stone bounced into his helmet to set the 6th fastest time behind American 14 year old Joe Roberts and looks forward to the first round in Jerez full of confidence. "I am having a great time on the bike and I really think I can finish in the top 3 there at least, I'm really aiming to win."
For the newcomers the three days was very much about learning to ride the KTM as well as the circuit. It didn't seem to present much of a problem to Bradley Ray, the 14 year old Briton who was fast from early on and 9th at the end. "I'm really enjoying it, I love the bike and the track. I find the KTM quick to turn and it handles well but I don't think it will be too difficult to swap back to the Honda I have at home for Brands this weekend. Estoril is a lot of fun, I love the fast right hand kink behind the pits."
Some of the more experienced men were not finding it quite so easy including Philipp Oettl. The 15 year old German was 4th in last year's Cup and came to Estoril fresh from victory in the opening round of the Spanish Moto3 Championship. Swapping from 4-stroke to 2-stroke proved tricky and he ended up 14th fastest. "It isn't easy and I can't say exactly what the problem is. I've done so much riding in the last 6 days (his father says over 1000km) that I can't really sort out where the problem is. That is what I have to work on, understanding the differences and how to adapt."
"Reigning Rookies Cup Champion 11th Fastest"
Lorenzo Baldassarri, the reigning Rookies Cup champion was 11th, also having swapped from Moto3 to RC125. The 15 year old Italian was not stressed about it. "It isn't easy to swap, the 125 seems harder to ride, more critical, if you make a mistake on the throttle or anything you are in trouble and you lose time. The 4-stroke seems more forgiving. I am not so worried, I know I have to work that out and I think we have a good setting for the bike. This year is not going to be easy for sure."
The only girl in the Cup, Yui Watanabe, the 15 year old Japanese, found no trouble with the bike and was very happy to be so quickly focussed on what she needed to do. "I can so quickly see where I need to improve, I am not getting into the corners on the right line and especially in the slow corners that is causing me a lot of problems. So far my strong point is getting on the throttle so I know what I have to work on."
The first two races of the season are over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in Jerez, April 28th and 29th with the Portuguese GP in Estoril following immediately on May 5th and 6th.
Combined classification, days 2 and 3 (day 1 not timed)
1. Kyle Ryde (GBR) 1 minute 51.877 seconds
2. Florian Alt (GER) 1 minute 51.949 seconds
3. Karel Hanika (CZE) 1 minute 52.026 seconds
4. Hafiq Azmi (MAS) 1 minute 52.300 seconds
5. Joe Roberts (USA) 1 minute 52.373 seconds
6. Ivo Lopes (POR) 1 minute 52.422 seconds
7. Diego Perez (ESP) 1 minute 52.460 seconds
8. Willi Albert (GER) 1 minute 52.486 seconds
9. Bradley Ray (GBR) 1 minute 52.660 seconds
10. Aaron Espana (ESP) 1 minute 52.699 seconds
11. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) 1 minute 52.848 seconds
12. Marcos Ramirez (ESP) 1 minute 52.932 seconds
13. Scott Deroue (NED) 1 minute 53.372 seconds
14. Jordan Weaving (RSA) 1 minute 53.460 seconds
15. Livio Loi (BEL) 1 minute 53.461 seconds
16. Nicolo Castellini (ITA) 1 minute 53.527 seconds
17. Philipp Oettl (GER) 1 minute 53.583 seconds
18. Lukas Trautmann (AUT) 1 minute 53.594 seconds
19. Yui Watanabe (JPN) 1 minute 53.705 seconds
20. Simon Danilo (FRA) 1 minute 53.867 seconds
21. Stefano Manzi (ITA) 1 minute 54.076 seconds
22. Tarran Mackenzie (GBR) 1 minute 54.223 seconds
23. Filippo Scalbi (ITA) 1 minute 54.756 seconds
24. Jorge Martin (ESP) 1 minute 54.960 seconds