Points in Portugal for Max!

April 10, 2019

Red Bull Rookies

After a lengthy off season, it was finally time to start a huge year for Max Cook kicking off with the Repsol FIM Moto3 Junior World Championships. Riding for the Junior Talent Team Max arrived to the Estoril circuit confident after some positive pre-season testing, but ahead lay a big step up. With 36 of the World’s best riders present Max and the team set their sights on a top fifteen finish with an aim to take home some points back to the UK.

This was Max’s first round with the team onboard their 2016 Factory Honda Moto3 machine. He had already ridden the bike at a recent official test at the same track which was largely successful, but the weather conditions for the test were the polar opposite to what Max and his fellow competitors would face over the weekend. 

After positive practice sessions on Thursday and Friday Max and the team were confident heading into qualifying on Saturday. Qualifying would take place over two sessions and with just one race on Sunday the two sessions would be combined.   

The first qualifying session saw a wet track initially that progressively dried towards the end. As the time ticked down Max’s confidence grew and with it came a stunning last lap to qualify an astonishing fourth place! But typically, conditions improved for the second session meaning the first became almost irrelevant with everyone now on slicks.

With Max out pushing on a soft rear the team were keen to bring him on for a stop before a big push towards the end of the session. Sadly Max couldn’t read his pit board correctly and didn’t see the instruction to pit until five minutes from the end. This gave Max just one flying lap and after being delayed in the final sector he qualified thirteenth place. A good result and target achieved, but data later proved previous final sectors would have put Max in the top ten.

Sunday would seethe riders greeted with a soaked track which saw the nerves on the grid rise even more. Starting right in the thick of it Max’s plan for the race was simple, avoid crashing early and keep out of trouble!

As the lights went green for the first time of the season Max had a great start and moved up a few places, but on the first corner quickly realised he had a bad track position on the outside of the turn with four riders underneath him.

Having to tip toe around the outside Max fell to eighteenth but managed to keep his nose clean for the dangerous early corners. Once the order had settled Max found himself in P17. With a bit of work to do Max managed to settle into a decent rhythm on a tricky, water sodden track and battled with a group of six riders for eleventh place.   

Max was particularly impressive on the brakes going into turn one, which is where he would make up most places taking him from seventeenth to twelfth over the course of the race. When the last lap came, suddenly the racing went an aggressive octave higher with every rider in Max’s group wanting that eleventh place.

Max fought well and went to twelfth before losing out in sector three crossing the line thirteenth in front of many more experienced riders. It meant Max would score three points in the championship to take to round two at Valencia later this month.

Post-race Max was satisfied with the result as the target was top fifteen. The experience has taught him a huge amount and he now feels much stronger going into the next round. The team were happy with Max’s progress, attitude and speed and were extremely positive that Max has created a firm foundation from which they have no doubt he will grow and improve to be within the top ten very soon.

Max Cook: “As a whole I’ve come away from Estoril happy as I felt I had the pace to run inside the top ten all weekend. It was just a couple of small mistakes during qualifying and the race that stopped me. It’s a good learning for me and I feel more confident going to Valencia in a couple of weeks. I’m so happy with the team and the bike as everyone has worked so hard on set up especially as the weather changed so much. The bike always felt great over weekend so I’d like say massive thanks to them.”