MotoGP Austria: Red Bull Rookies race preview

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Spielberg has a ring of truth for Red Bull Rookies and the drama and excitement of races nine and ten of the 2022 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup will have a lot to say about the destiny of the trophy.

The Austrian circuit offers spectacular beauty and fabulously intense competition. The home GP for both KTM and Red Bull, every turn is a challenge and the last two corners are where big hearts and fabulous skill produce awesome results.

José Rueda leads Collin Veijer by just 10 points at the head of the table and while the 16-year-old Spaniard and 17-year-old Dutchman may well battle it out to the final weekend in Valencia the rest of the pack need to get back on terms now.

The leading pair have five podiums apiece but Rueda has the edge in wins, three to two. Veijer has the advantage of making his third visit to the Red Bull Ring but learning circuits does not seem to have caused Rueda too much stress in his debut season. All the riders have the new chicane section to learn.

Third in the points chase is Màx Quiles, 54 adrift from the lead but the Spanish 14-year-old has already shown that he knows how to score big with two wins to his name. Six remaining races mean 150 points on offer so the gap can be closed but that has to start this weekend.

Luca Lunetta is fourth and the Italian 16-year-old is a further eight behind, just one ahead of Spanish 15-year-old Angel Piqueras who was the victor last time out at the Sachsenring. Fourth to tenth are covered by just 16 points so Harrison Voight, the 15-year-old Australian, is tenth and could still win the Cup.

Those hopes get rapidly thinner if Rueda and Veijer’s advantage is not eaten into in Austria. So Casey O’Gorman, the Irish 15-year-old, has to do even better than the second and third he started the season with. Similarly Italian 17-year-old Filippo Farioli scored a second in Mugello and a third at the Sachsenring. Tatchakorn Buasri was a podium man in Mugello, with the 21-year-old Thai going two-three. 14-year-old Fin Rico Salmela has a third from race one in Italy.

That makes six riders with podiums but as yet no race wins. If any of them can shift gear and get on the top step then Rookies Cup history can change course. But time, and races, are running out.

Since our last event in Germany another statistic has been entered in the record books with 20-year-old Scotsman Rory Skinner, Rookie in 2015, 16 and 17 becoming the 100th ex-Rookie to make a GP start when he rode in the Moto2 Grand Prix at Silverstone. So over 50% of ex Rookies have sat on a Grand Prix grid.