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MotoGP Portimao: Piqueras on Rookies pole, O’Gorman fifth despite crash

Casey O’Gorman looked to be on for pole position in the opening round of the 2022 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup having dominated Friday practice.

Fastest in both soaking wet practices across the first day in Portugal, the Irishman was on to repeat the success as qualifying fired up before the treacherous conditions caught him out with a highside on his second flying lap.

“It's a shame, I was feeling good, not really pushing that hard, I just hit this big puddle and had a huge highside,” the 14-year-old explained.


“I'm OK, the bike is great, good set-up wet and dry and I don't mind what it is for the race,” he continued, looking ahead to a fifth place grid start in Saturday’s race after setting a 2’11.934 lap on his first effort.

Angel Piqueras ultimately took pole by almost a second over fellow Spaniard Màximo Quiles with Australian 15-year-old Harrison Voight completing the front row. 15-year-old Piqueras put in a brilliant 2’10.381 lap to knock Voight off the top of the leaderboard with 14-year-old Quiles dropping the Aussie further back on his seventh of ten laps around the 4.6km layout.
“My feeling on the bike is really good now,” explained Piqueras. “I was not so confident in Free Practice but then we changed the rear suspension and it was really good for the Qualifying, the guys did a great job.”
“I'd like a dry race, that would probably be a bit better but I'm also fast in the wet,” he added as an understatement after watching the final laps from the pitwall when the rain and wind got stronger.

Second was not easy for Quiles who admitted he “was getting quite frustrated in qualifying. There were so many guys falling and so many yellow flags that you just couldn't get a clear lap. But then finally I could find a good run and it was great. The bike feels very good, I'm happy with the set-up and I don't mind if it is wet or dry for the race.”

While Voight was clearly pleased with himself as the session drew to a close. “I'm happy with that,” the Australian admitted. "I felt confident in the wet at the test before my crash and thought that I could put it in the top five on the wet track but there was so much running water earlier today that it just didn’t feel good.”
“It was better in qualifying and I had the confidence to go for it. As for a wet race, I don't know about doing 16 laps, the last wet race I did was when I was nine!”
The dramatic conditions produced a number of incidents and tested not only the Rookies. Support was there as soon as they arrived back in pit lane with technical staff descending on the KTM RC 250 R to work their magical repairs with impressive speed. The HJC and Alpinestars technicians checking helmet and leathers respectively, all to get the riders quickly and safely back out on track and learning their craft.

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