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Rookies Cup: Hanika extends lead despite close Jerez defeats
7 May 2013 By Neil Morrison
Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini scored one race victory apiece in two typically frantic rounds of the Red Bull Rookies Cup at Jerez.
The Spaniard and Italian both overcame a strong challenge from championship leader Karel Hanika, who emerged from the round with two-second places, to take their debut victories in the class.
The newly named Curva de Jorge Lorenzo was the scene of last lap drama in both races as the 17-year old Czech was firstly outfoxed by the determined manoeuvring of Martin on Saturday, and then was unable to get by a daring late braking effort from Bastianini who took victory in Sunday's frantic finale.
The Czech rider started from pole position and led the majority of both races only to be overcome at the final hurdle. He will have to content himself with extending his championship lead to 28 points. He has now finished inside the top two in seven of the last nine Red Bull Rookies races.
Saturday's race began in dramatic fashion after Lukas Trautmann ran into Olly Simpson on the run to turn one. The Australian was sent careering violently across pit lane into the armco barrier, sustaining a cracked radius bone in his left forearm and a dislocated shoulder in the process.
Race stewards judged Trautmann's involvement in the incident to be worthy of a three-race penalty and he subsequently sat out Sunday's action.
Italian Manuel Pagliani shot to the front and led a group of ten riders before Martin and Hanika came by with ten laps remaining, their superior pace too much for the pack to deal with. Only fellow front row starter Enea Bastianini could escape the pack behind but he was to ride to a lonely third place.
Martin and Hanika continued to swap places throughout the remaining laps, including an aggressive exchange coming out of the Nieto corner where Hanika was pushed to the outside of the track.
He was nevertheless undeterred and the championship leader started the last lap in front and seemed to have the measure of Martin under braking when he saw off his challenge into the hairpin. The 15-year old Spaniard saved his best for last and, with his left leg trailing, executed a clean, perfectly timed pass into the final hairpin to claim his maiden win by 0.1 of a second.
The battle for fourth was equally as exciting with Diego Perez finishing first in a group of four that was covered by less than a second, after early leader Pagliani crashed at the hairpin.
Sunday's second race started at a relentless pace and an opening group of eleven riders quickly formed with Darryn Binder joining Hanika, Martin and Italian Stefano Manzi in the front positions. Enea Bastianini, no doubt buoyed by his maiden podium the previous day, made a host of aggressive moves to also take his turn at the front.
The group was exploded with five laps remaining when Binder's KTM expired coming into the Nieto curve, forcing those behind to take evasive action. The South African was lucky not to get collected.
That left Bastianini, Hanika and Manzi clear of the marauding pack behind and despite the Czech's best braking efforts on the final lap, first at the hairpin, then at Lorenzo Corner, Bastianini held on by 0.141 of a second to take his first win in only his fourth start in the competition. Manzi was three tenths of a second further back.
After Binder's exit, the chasing pack was splintered when the luckless Pagliani again crashed at the hairpin, this time being taken down by an over exuberant Diego Perez.
This allowed Martin to finish fourth and climb to second in the overall standings.
British rider Bradley Ray was left frustrated with eighth and sixth placed finishes.
Although two poor starts hindered his progress he was amidst a tough battle in race one and was only one second behind fourth place. In race two his lap times suggested he could have ran with the leaders but could not break free of the surrounding group. He now sits third overall, 29 points back of Hanika.
British championship regular Tarran Mackenzie endured a trying weekend where he only managed eight laps during both races where he was hampered by mechanical issues throughout both races.
Rounds five and six of the Red Bull Rookies Cup will be held in Assen on June the 28th and 29th.