BY GILES SPENCER
Erith teen motorcycle racer Casey O’Gorman enjoyed a sensational opening round to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup at Portimao in Portugal last weekend with two hard fought podium finishes.
The reigning British Talent Cup champion landed a ride in the prestigious Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup championship for 2022, riding against some of the best young riders in the world.
The 14 year old dominated the two wet Friday practice sessions before qualifying where the young Irishman took a tumble on his third lap after hitting a puddle but had still done enough to secure fifth place on the grid on row two.
Race one on Saturday was held in dry conditions for the first time that weekend. O’Gorman had lost none of the speed off the line he possessed in the British Talent Cup last year, slotting into second place by the first corner.
With only one lap of sixteen completed, a crash brought out the red flag bringing all the riders back to the starting grid.
Away from the lights in the re-started 14 lap race, O’Gorman again flew into second with a train of six riders breaking away from the rest of the pack.
Seven laps to go and the leader Jose Rueda had pulled over a second with O’Gorman slipping to third as the pace started to increase with experience and the group slipstreaming the youngster down the front straight.
Down to the last lap and the leader Rueda had disappeared down the road to the tune of nine seconds, leaving a dog fight for the final step of the podium.
Onto the front straight for the final time of asking, O’Gorman timed his attack perfectly, pulling out of the slipstream of Colin Veijer to beat the Dutchman to the flag to claim second place in his first race in the championship.
Starting from the front of the second row in fourth place for Sunday’s overcast but dry race, O’Gorman made a slow start by his standards, holding his grid position into the first corner.
The young riders had learnt a lot from the previous race with the group a lot tighter than before with O’Gorman going up and down the positions like a yo-yo.
Four laps of sixteen down and top four rounded off by O’Gorman had just created a bit of clean air between themselves and the chasing pack but as is the way with the Red Bull Rookies, the gap soon vanished as quickly as it appeared.
Nine laps to go and O’Gorman briefly took the lead for the first time but it was now a seven lap scrap for the win.
Last lap and O’Gorman was sitting in third with eyes on the top spot.
On the drag to the flag, Rueda had the win in the bag but the fight was on for second.
O’Gorman pulled out of Veijer’s slipstream to repeat Saturday’s performance but despite passing the number 95 rider, the 17 year old managed to regain the position to demote O’Gorman to third by 0.004 seconds.
In a cruel twist of fate, Rueda received a one place penalty for exceeding track limits on the last lap, handing the win to Veijer whilst knocking O’Gorman back to third in the championship on 36 points behind Rueda on 45 and Veijer on 41.
O’Gorman took to social media to say, “Double podium in the first round of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Leaving Portimao P3 in the championship having just missed the winn by 0.004, definitely motivation for this coming weekend at round 2 in Jerez.
“First we have a two day test at Estoril today (Monday) and Tuesday with Visiontrackgp. Massive thanks to all the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup staff, especially my helper Carlos. Also my personal sponsors and everyone who’s donated recently. This wouldn’t have been possible without your help.”
With ten rounds scheduled over the next twelve weeks, funds are going to be tight. Anyone interested in helping O’Gorman can donate at https://www.paypal.me/COGracing or https://www.gofund.me/6058b7bf
To find out more about the championship, go to @redbullrookiescup
The next round of the championship heads to Jerez in Spain on the 30 April – 1 May.
Photos: Red Bull Rookies Cup
Main Pic: O’Gorman (right) with Rueda and Veijer (centre) on the podium after race 2