Japanese teenager Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia / Honda NSF250RW) enjoyed a landmark race at Red Bull Ring today, achieving the first top ten of his Grand Prix career.
The 18-year-old from Setagaya took the chequered flag in eighth place after winning a race-long battle with countryman Ryusei Yamanaka.
The race started on a damp track, following earlier rain, with a narrow dry line in some corners. Kunii chose rain tyres, like the majority of the grid. At one stage of the 23 laps he was as high as seventh, but he was nonetheless delighted with his eighth-place finish, which proves that he continues to make excellent progress during his second World Championship season.
Honda’s top finisher was Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing / Honda NSF250RW) who was one of a handful of riders who gambled on slick tyres, hoping the track would dry out. The asphalt did dry in some places but not enough to give the 23-year-old South African an advantage until the last few laps.
During the early stages Binder was as low as 17th. Even by half-distance he was only 14th. Then during the closing laps he found enough grip to commence his charge, to sixth place at the finish, setting the fastest lap on the second-last lap.
Team-mate John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing / Honda NSF250RW) also took the slick-tyre gamble, the 27-year-old Briton finishing in 13th.
The final points scorer was 23-year-old Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse / Honda NSF250RW), from Chiba.
Andi Farid Izdihar (Honda Team Asia / Honda NSF250RW) was another rider who decided to start with slicks. Obviously the lack of dry asphalt made this a risky gamble, because the wet parts of the track were very treacherous with dry-weather tyres.
Like several others the 23-year-old Indonesian crashed out. He fell at Turn One on lap nine, restarted, only to fall again five laps later, this time at Turn Three. That was the end of his race.
The entire MotoGP paddock stays at Red Bull Ring, looking forward to next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.