Swindon rider Max Cook is looking to finish his maiden Red Bull Rookies campaign on a high when the championship concludes in Spain this weekend.
Cook will race twice at the Motoland Aragon circuit determined to bounce back from the disappointment of crashing in the last two rounds.
Round five in Austria saw Cook suffer a last-lap crash as he chased sixth place while round six in San Marino saw him suffer brake trouble on the opening lap.
Sandwiched in between however was a superb ride at Silverstone in the British Talent Cup, where he stormed home to second place despite struggling with knee ligament damage from his earlier crash in Austria.
Cook though has shown plenty of signs that he can challenge the leading riders in the Red Bull Rookies Cup and admits in the past he has maybe “pushed too hard”.
“Before the weekend (in San Marino) I was excited to ride this circuit as so many people had said how good it was and in the first circuit I understood why it’s such a fun circuit to ride,” said Cook.
“I’m sad about the way the weekend ended as I wanted a good result so bad after Austria and show everyone that I can run with the front group again and this time get a better result.
“I think this time I just pushed too hard. I’ve still learnt a lot from this weekend especially how to learn circuits quickly and also not to put too much pressure on myself.
“I want to end the season on a high at Aragon, with a decent finish, but I also want to enjoy myself and finish the year with a good memory.
“I’d like to say a huge thanks to my sponsors for all their support and I’d like to finish well for them too.”
This weekend’s Red Bull Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and with race one on Saturday and race two on Sunday.
Round Five of the Red Bull Rookies Cup in Austria saw Cook suffer a last lap crash which dashed his chances of a top 10 finish.
Having qualified in 17th place, Cook failed to make his traditional fast start which meant he made up no places off the line.
But by lap 10, Cook was into 10th place and was less than a second from the race leader.
Lap 12 saw Cook make some decisive overtakes on the brakes which took up in eighth place and right in the thick of a race where any one of 13 riders were in with a chance of race victory.
Pushing for a podium place he lost a couple of places on lap 15 before making his moves through the field on the last lap.
Back up to eighth place, Cook made a move for sixth place on a heavy braking corner but as he applied his front brake, the lever went straight back to the handlebar.
Thinking the pads had gone into the piston, Cook frantically pumped the brakes to get them back. With everything happening so quickly, when his brakes did come back, he was on a collision course with two riders.
Unfortunately for Cook, upon trying to avoid both riders, he crashed and collected them and their bikes.
The Swindon rider injured his neck and knee in the crash but was quickly treated at the medical centre where he was diagnosed with a sprained neck and damaged ligaments in his knee.
Despite being desperate to compete in race two, the Moto GP medical team declared Cook unfit to race.
Cook though was upbeat despite the upset, saying: “Of course I’m pretty upset about crashing out of the race as I was confident I could have finished the race within the top five had I not had the brake issue, which would have been my best finish in the Rookies Cup.
“However when I left the circuit, I actually felt really happy with how I rode as I got the third fastest lap of the race and took another small step closer to the front of the field.
“I’m also getting quicker and more comfortable with the bike, which gives me more confidence and belief I can get a good result.”
A weather affected round four of the British Talent Cup at Silverstone was next for Cook as he battled through injury to secure a superb second place.
Free practice and qualifying were hampered by changeable weather as the conditions at Silverstone switched back and forth from wet to dry.
Coupled with his injured knee, which was heavily strapped, the Swindon rider managed to break into the top 10 in free practice.
In qualifying, Cook dug deep to secure eighth place on the grid but he still had a lot to do to catch the leading riders.
Overnight set up changes saw Cook enter the race with a stiffer suspension which, with the dry weather, increased his chances of a breaking into the podium places.
Cook made a fast start when the lights went to green as he surged into sixth place early on. While the leaders created breathing space from the chasing pack, Cook was embroiled in battle for fourth place.
Aware that he needed to be aggressive to stand any chance of catching the top three riders, Cook made some decisive moves mid-way through the race and they paid off as he snuck into third place after seven laps.
Three consecutive fastest laps by the Swindon rider saw him bridge the gap to the leaders and by lap 10, Cook was in a three-way battle for the lead.
With his knee still causing him pain, Cook couldn’t battle like he wanted to and lost time in each of the fast right handers and was always playing catch up.
But with just a few laps remaining, Cook kept pushing and on the last lap he bravely moved into second position.
Cook then pushed for victory and on the last corner got on the power but asked too much of his rear wheel as the bike slid sideways. Fortunately though Cook saved the bike and defended his position into the last corner to take second place, just one second from first and 0.05 seconds ahead of third.
Sadly race two was called off due to the weather leaving Cook 29 points behind British Talent Cup leader Thomas Strudwick with four races to go.
Round six of the Red Bull Rookies Cup saw Cook travel to Italy with his sights set on a top 10 finish.
Beginning the only race of the weekend in 14th place on the grid, Cook lost a place by the opening corner but he responded well as he quickly forced himself into 12th position.
At the end of the long straight, the riders bunched up quickly which forced Cook wide. He immediately saw an opportunity to make up more places by getting on the power slightly earlier but unfortunately, Cook asked a bit too much of the bike and he lost traction of the rear tyre, which spat him off the bike.
Even though he was out of the race Cook showed character by picking the bike up, getting it started and, after a quick pitstop and repairs, he was back out on track, albeit 2 laps down.
Riding for pride, Cook managed to record some decent lap times all within the mid 1:46 mark.
Cook now looks ahead to the final Red Bull Rookies Cup of the season this weekend in Spain.