Rory celebrates his fourteenth birthday with two podium finishes at Aragon this weekend. Skinner finishes his first year in the Red Bull Rookies Cup in tenth position with 62 points.
Having qualified on pole position in Aragon for the first time in his short Red Bull Rookies career Rory Skinner then went on to finish on the podium in race one. The initial 15 lap race was stopped after four riders crashed. The re-started race was reduced to 8 laps. Skinner didn’t show any nerves as he led from the front row where he sat alongside Raul Fernandez as Bendsneyder didn’t make the restart.
In the Race One Skinner took the holeshot from Garcia, Fernandez at the first corner and he held the lead for the first lap. Fernandez then used Skinner’s slipstream to take first position going into the first corner on the second lap. Skinner then ran a little wide running over the paint which enabled Garcia to move into second place. Skinner continued to attack Garcia as he looked to regain second position which he managed towards the end of the lap. As they started lap three Skinner again was at the front of the race passing Garcia on the start finish straight. He was leading a train of eight riders battling for the three podium positions.
With three laps remaining Di Giannantonio and Garcia almost collided which forced them both wide and then Di Giannantonio re-entered the circuit he held the gorpu of riders up, leaving Skinner able to make a gap at the front of the race. Skinner led by a second as he crossed the line with two laps remaining from Garcia and now Rufino Florido in third.
The two Spanish riders Garcia and Fernandez, who had worked his way back to third began to cut the gap between them and the Scot out front. In doing so they broke away from the rest of the riders and caught Skinner as they entered the first corner for the final lap. Fernandez led from Garcia and then Skinner. Although the two Spanish riders had overtaken Skinner he was staying with them. Marc Garcia then went inside Fernandez and the end of the back straight to take the lead, which he held on to taking his first red Bull Rookies win. Raul Fernandez crossed the line in second position and Rory Skinner, just 0.114 seconds behind the winner got third place and his first podium in the championship. Skinner said afterwards,
This has been my best weekend so far. I´ve really enjoyed the whole thing., said a delighted Skinner. He added,
Before this my best qualification was 18th so getting a pole was brillant and getting a podium even better.
In Race Two Rory Skinner got a superb start as he again took the lead into the first corner. On the first lap Olly Simpson took the lead from the Scot but Skinner immediately fought back. Skinner and Simpson opened a small gap over those following, but within a lap both Fernandez and Garcia had joined these two at the front. With 13 laps remaining Skinner reamianed in first poasition, followed by Garcia, Fernandez then Simpson. Behind another group of four were trying hard to drag themselves back to the front four, led by Rufino Florido.
With ten laps remaining Fernandez used Skinner’s slipstream to take the lead into turn one. With Skinner pushing hard to re-take the position Fernandez used all the track and Skinner lost another position to find himself behind Olly Simpson. However, only a few corners later Skinner took second position back from the Australian rider and tucked in behind Fernandez in the lead. Di Giannantonio had caught the front four to make it a front five.
Skinner went back into the lead with nine laps remaining with the Italian Di Giannantonio now in second position as the leading group had now become six riders with Japanese rider Toba joining them. Skinner then temporarily lost first place to Di Giannantonio but as soon as he regained it Garcia took the pair of them. As the leading group expanded to eight riders Skinner suffered as several of them slipstreamed him and he went backwards. As he pushed hard he ran off circuit and it looked like his foot was off the peg and his boot dragging on the floor, but he calmly held on and rejoined in eighth with 7 laps left, but two seconds behind the leading group.
He was going to give up though, as he quickly recovered his composure and began to hunt down Rufino Florido in seventh place. With five laps of the race to go he was back in touch with the leading group having set the fastest lap of the race at that stage. He managed to pass Florido and move into 6th position as Di Giannantonio led from Sasaki.
Toba ran wide with two and a half laps remaining and having recovered from that, he had a huge high-side whilst leading the race on the last lap. There were seven riders that all had the potential to win the race and whilst Skinner had been running around sixth or seventh position, having clawed his way back in contention, he then cleverly worked his way into third place.
The race was eventually won by Di Giannantonio by the smallest of margins from Ayumu Sasaki. Rory Skinner completed the race in third place to collect his second podium of the weekend.
Happy 14th birthday Rory Skinner and congratulations on being invited back to the Red Bull Rookies for next year.