May 7, 2018
Red Bull Rookies
It was the day Max had been counting down to ever since the news broke earlier this year that Max was one of two British riders to be selected to race in this years Red Bull Rookies! Advertised as the ‘Road to MotoGP’ the championship tours with the afore mentioned over six rounds with all the riders on identical equipment making for a level playing ground.
It’s an honour for any young rider to be selected for the series which has provided MotoGP riders in the past and a sign that we have a rising star on our hands. Like we needed to be reminded of that already! As for the format, the weekend would consist of practice followed by qualifying and two races.
With 24 riders on the grid the nerves were high as qualifying began, for Max in his very first race he had a lot to learn for someone who has limited racing experience outside of the UK. With more experienced and local riders further up the field Max found himself involved in a battle that was proving why motorcycle fans love the Red Bull Rookies. He qualified 17th but had he gone just one tenth faster, he would have qualified 11th! It was agonisingly close and things looked set to be even closer in the racing.
As the bikes hurtled into turn one Max made a good start in the early stages moving up into 13th place and began to get involved in a very close battle for 9th. The following lap and Max had moved up to 12th with the rider ahead receiving a ride through penalty which would put the Brit into 11th. As we went into the final ten laps Max was now into 10th place still involved in a frantic battle for 9th. The cameras may have been with the top eight, but the battle behind was just as entertaining.
As we hit the halfway point of the race Max had now got into 9th place, but it was only a brief spell as he dropped back to 10th with no one to give him a tow. Max then fell to 11th but with five laps to go he was back into 10th and challenging for 9th once again. Heading into the final two laps everyone was giving it their all and in the midst of the battling Max had been unfortunate and lost three places dropping to 13th. It didn’t all happen in one hit with Max putting up a good fight but he crossed the line in 13th taking championship points on his debut! It was a positive result and a great first experience with more time to be found going into race two.
Unfortunately, the second race wouldn’t quite work out as well as the first and largely for mechanical issues. After climbing to 11th in the early stages of the race Max went for a move on lap six but the front end seemed to disagree and it caused Max to run wide and lose several positions. It would be easy to assume this was rider error but for the rest of the race the same problem would repeat itself leaving Max down in 20th place for the final half of the race.
Rather than retiring Max decided to stay out to ‘take in the atmosphere’ of the event. Let’s not forgot over 200,000 people had packed into the grandstands for the MotoGP, how many 15-year-olds get to show off their talents in front a crowd of that many people?
It was a disappointing end to the weekend, but nevertheless there were several positives to take away heading it Mugello next weekend!