Marc Garcia rode a superb 8 laps of Motorland Aragon to win the shortened penultimate Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of 2015. Marc Garcia rode a superb 8 laps, the 15-year-old ran wheel to wheel with fellow Spaniard, 14-year-old Raúl Fernández, as they caught pole man Rory Skinner starting the final lap. Blasting out of Skinner’s slipstream into the first left hander the Spaniards fought it out between them with Garcia just taking the verdict and Skinner claiming third. “It is so great to finally get my first win,” beamed the ever reserved Garcia. “I had the rhythm, I felt confident and I knew I could win it.” A four bike accident on lap two had stopped the initial race as 14-year-old Spaniard Aleix Viu and Cup winner Bo Bendsneyder were taken to the medical centre for checks leaving Bruno Ieraci and Enzo Boulom to walk back to the pits and unable to restart the race due to machine damage. Skinner had also led the first start but was pressured hard on lap one by Garcia who qualified fifth and Olly Simpson who had been fourth fastest. Simpson, the 17-year-old Australian, had his run of bad luck continue as at the restart he stalled on the grid, missed the warm up lap and started from the pit lane. He would finally pick up a single point for 15th. From the restart Skinner was cooler than he had been the first time and held off an attack from Garcia, who in turn had to fight off a pack of six headed by Fernández. That group included Fabio Di Giannantonio who was determined to avenge his fall in Misano and loss of the Cup to Bendsneyder. The 16-year-old Italian had only qualified ninth but he charged through aggressively. He cut his way through to second on lap 6 but the move took him off the track. As he regained the circuit he upset the group, handing Skinner an advantage. It was a one second lead for the Scot starting the penultimate lap but the Spaniards had cut that to nothing by the end of it and swept past. Still Skinner hung on but he could not get back ahead. “It’s been a wonderful couple of days,” grinned Skinner. “It was just a fantastic race and I enjoyed every moment of it. I just couldn’t hold them off at the end. The bike has been great all weekend, we softened up the suspension and it gave me the confidence in Free Practice 2 to really go for it in qualifying and the race. I just have to go two places better tomorrow,” concluded the teen who turns 14 on Sunday. Fernández very much had his eyes on his first victory. “That was a hard race, being 8 laps instead of 15 made it even harder than usual,” he explained. “I enjoyed it, being on the podium is great but I need to go one better. That will be tomorrow.” Not surprisingly Garcia has other ideas. Will he be troubled by Skinner and Fernández? A pause, then a small shake of his head and a quiet “No.” He might still be troubled by Bendsneyder who was pronounced fit after a visit to the medical centre and should be able to race. Viu was taken to hospital for further precautionary tests but it seems he also escaped serious injury.
It was a fitting end to the season, a battle for the lead that built to an eight man festival of skill and daring. Ayumu Sasaki and Fabio Di Giannantonio slithered through the final corner side by side but it was the 16-year-old Italian who had the verdict on the line by just 12 thousandths of a second over the 14-year-old Japanese to claim the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup finale for 2015. Pole man Rory Skinner celebrated his 14th birthday with an excellent third matching his result from Saturday and scoring the only double podium of the weekend. Di Giannantonio was naturally thrilled. “A perfect way to end the season, I don’t have words for it. I wasn’t happy with yesterday’s race, I made some mistakes and I knew I had to take a look at it. I watched the video and saw what I was doing wrong and where I could improve. I calmed myself down and made sure I did it all right today,” grinned the triple winner who also took four second places on his way to a clear second in the Cup table. “It was such a great battle and I knew it would all come down to the last lap and slipstreaming down the last straight. I knew I had to be second and pass the leader into the last corner. It was so close but it worked perfectly,” he explained. It was the fifth podium of the season for Sasaki but he wasn’t so thrilled. “It was another great race, I thought I had it won, we were side by side but I just missed,” explained Saturday’s fourth place finisher. “Still I did my best, we changed the front suspension a little after yesterday’s race and that helped.” “It was a hard race all the way, I didn’t make a great start and had to fight to catch up. It is always hard in Rookies Cup. I have really enjoyed this year and I am already looking forward to next season.” From pole position Skinner made another great start and determinedly hung on to the lead under great pressure from Olly Simpson, Marc Garcia and Raul Fernandez who would eventually finish fourth, fifth and sixth. That four man battle built to eight and Skinner ended up at the back of it. “I made a couple of mistakes, one big one and I was right off the track,” explained Skinner who regained the circuit two seconds behind the leaders. “I thought I had ruined it then but I got my head down and soon started to see the gap closing. The back was sliding around quite a lot by the end of the race. That last sector had been good for me all weekend so I went for it on the last lap but the grip wasn’t quite there for me to catch those two.” Rookies Cup winner Bo Bendsneyder escaped serious injury in Saturday’s nasty four bike accident but it affected his ride on Sunday. “I hurt my wrist, I didn’t think it would be a problem but it was just something torn but I couldn’t brake at all, I just did what I could,” explained the 16-year-old Dutchman. Spanish 14-year-old Aleix Viu who bore the brunt of the accident explained to the Rookies Cup staff that he couldn’t wait to get back on the bike as soon as possible. He will recover from a pelvic fracture, foot and rib injuries.