Rookies Cup rivalry deepens in Italy

Beach second again as Salom claims fourth win

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 03, 2008
MotoGP Rookie Cup racers Luis Salom and JD Beach continued their rivalry with a heated race May 31 at Mugello, Italy, ending with Salom again slipping ahead for the win.

The Spanish teen came back from behind to claim his fourth Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup win in five races. Salom started 18th on the starting grid after a crash in the first qualifying session prevented him from taking part in the second. Undaunted, he fought his way to the head of the pack where the American Beach defended the lead from 13-year-old Daijiro Hiura from Japan.

“Passing some of the guys wasn’t too hard but when I got to the front of the pack JD had about 4 seconds advantage,” says Salom. “I thought it was going to be hard to win this one. I pushed and pushed so I was happy to catch him in a few laps and take the lead.”

The two continued to battle through most of the race, coming in contact a few times.Luis Salom (59) and JD Beach (39) have been dueling each other all season.

“I knew he was coming and I just tried to go as fast as I could in the opening laps. I guess it wasn’t fast enough because he caught us up,” says Beach. “I wasn’t going to let him go and we had a great race. We bumped a couple of times, he ran into me pretty heavy once but he then apologized. It’s just racing I guess.”

Beach has had a successful, yet frustrating season thus far. The Washington state teen has placed second in all five races this year. Racing at Mugello, Beach thought he had a chance for the win.

“For the last lap I had a plan to pass him between the last chicane and the final downhill left hander but I had a big slide out of the chicane a few corners back. I didn’t back off the gas, I stayed in it but I lost ground,” says Beach. “From there I caught up a bit but not enough so it’s second again.”

Salom now holds a 13-point lead over Beach in the standings, and the two 16-year-olds are quickly developing a rivalry that could grow as they continue through the rest of the season and beyond.

Earlier in the race, 13-year-old Italian Kevin Calia took a hard fall, getting thrown from his bike after a fast downhill turn near the end of the third lap. He was taken to hospital for observation.

Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Top five standings

Pos. Rider Age Country Points
1. Luis Salom 16 Spain 113
2. JD Beach 16 USA 100
3. Daijiro Hiura 13 Japan 63
4. Sturla Fagerhaug 16 Norway 57
5. Nelson Major 15 France 55