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Oliveira leads MotoGP Rookies at Assen

Field draws nearer to series leaders

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jul. 01, 2008
Portuguese teenager Miguel Oliveira won his second Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race in a week at Assen in the Netherlands, June 28.

Oliveira, 13, earned his first win just seven days earlier at the Donington Circuit in England.

“I am so happy to score a second win in this Cup, I can hardly believe it,” says Oliveira. “It was so hard early on. I didn’t make a good start and we had a big battle with a lot of riders all trying so hard.”

Oliveira dropped as far back as seventh place after the first lap but managed to make his way back among the race leaders, including German Daniel Kartheininger, 15, who shot out ahead of the pack from the grid. Oliveira finally passed Kartheininger on lap 13 to assume the lead.

Soon after, Kartheininger crashed out, leaving Oliveira to coast unchallenged to win the 16-lap race.

“When I managed to get through to second I just pushed and pushed to catch Dani (Kartheininger),” says Oliveira. “When I got in front I could see from the big TV screens that he was chasing me. I just went as fast as I could, I saw that he wasn’t behind me on the last lap but I didn’t know he had crashed.”Miguel Oliveira (left) approaches  Matthew Hoyle at Assen.

After leading for most of the race, Kartheininger seemed a little stunned with Oliveira’s surge on lap 13.

“I made such a good start and then I looked back and saw I had a big lead. I just kept concentrating and though I knew that they were closing the gap a little suddenly Miguel (Oliveira) came past on the straight. It was a big surprise,” says Kartheininger. “He didn't get away from me. I followed for half a lap but then the back slid and high-sided me even though I only got on the gas the same as the lap before.”

The Assen race also provided some drama for the series championship’s top contenders. Points leader Luis Salom slid off the road and into the gravel early in the race, dropping him to last place. He did not crash, however, and was able to continue. This gave American JD Beach, who sits second in the standings, a chance to make up some ground on the young Spaniard.

The 16-year-old Beach reached as high as second place behind Kartheininger on lap four but two laps later, he too slid off the track.

“The front end just folded on me,” says Beach. “I tried to prop it up on my elbow and I almost got away with it but then it went away. I just picked the bike up as quick as I could and raced after the guys to get the points. I knew Luis had gone off on the first lap but I wasn't going to change the way I was riding ’cause I guessed he didn’t crash and would be getting in the points anyway.”

Beach remounted his KTM RC125 and rejoined the race but lost seven seconds on his crash, and finished in eighth. Unfortunately for Beach, Salom finished a spot ahead of him, widening his lead in the overall standings by a point to ten.

Norwegian teen Sturla Fagerhaug finished second in Assen to sit 22 points behind Beach in third place. English teen Matthew Hoyle finished third to earn his first podium finish of the season.

Red Bull MotoGP Rookies top five standings


Pos. Rider Country Points
1. Luis Salom Spain 129
2. JD Beach U.S.A. 119
3. Sturla Fagerhaug Norway 97
4. Daijiro Hiura Japan 76
5. Nelson Major France 68