Swindon’s Red Bull Rookies Cup star Max Cook described racing at Italian circuit Mugello as a “dream come true” despite crashing out in round two of the championship.
Following his fantastic success in the British Talent Cup the weekend before, which saw him claim a first and second place at Donnington Park, Cook went into the second round of the Red Bull Rookies in confident mood.
Cook finished sixth fastest after the first practice session after posting a time of 2:04.3 around the 3.2 mile Italian circuit. The team made some changes to the bike for the second practice session and despite having to race in clear air for most of the session, Cook managed to match his earlier lap time.
The Swindon rider opted to go out first in the qualifying session in the hope that the experienced riders, who usually hit the track later, would catch him and he could take advantage of being in their group.
However, after spending five laps at the front of the pack, Cook decided to pull back and let the group past but after slowing too much, the chasing pack raced by him and left him unable to tag onto them.
Despite this, Cook posted a qualifying time of 2:03.1 which left him in 20th place on the grid but was an improvement on his fastest free practice time.
Into the race, Cook made a lightning fast start as he made up four places into turn two and immediately found himself in the leading group of riders.
Unfortunately Cook got stuck in a battle for 15th place, which halted his chase of the leading pack and by the time he broke free, the leaders had opened up a four second lead.
Knowing the leading group would disappear into the distance, Cook decided to push as hard as he could and despite not having the benefit of a slipstream, posted some fast lap times of 2:02.4.
However, Cook ultimately pushed too hard and upon entering the uphill section of turn two on lap five, he got on the throttle too early and too hard, which high-sided him and sent the bike into the gravel.
Fortunately Cook was unhurt and although the incident left him a little disheartened, he remained upbeat knowing some valuable experience had been gained at one of his favourite circuits.
“Leading up to the weekend I was really excited to ride Mugello for the first time,” said Cook.
“We did a track walk with Dani Ribalta and the circuit looked amazing.
“It was a lot more hilly than I expected and I love hills as they make the circuit more exciting to ride.
“When I rode it, it was even better and it was also great to get back on board the KTM.
“It felt strange to begin with after racing the Honda the weekend before, but after a few laps I got back into the rhythm of riding the KTM and it felt 100 per cent normal.
“I felt I learnt the circuit and its bumps well and when I was in a group, especially in free practice my pace was fast.
“If I had approached qualifying a bit differently and got in a group, I would have got a better grid position, which would have really helped me in the race.
“I got some great advice from the Rookies Cup coaches afterwards about how I can improve my approach to qualification, which I think will help for the rest of the year and I’m looking forward to using in Assen.
“As for the race, I’m disappointed to crash out, as I felt great and so did the bike as the guys at the tent worked really hard on the bike during the day.
“I was determined to start well and run with the leading group, but I got caught up in a battle for position 15 and the leading group pulled a four second gap.
“When I eventually passed the rider for position 15, I knew I was on my own and I knew I had to push really hard to catch them up.
“Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and crashed early in the race. It’s not all doom and gloom as racing at Mugello was a dream come true, the atmosphere and experience was incredible and I’ve learnt loads this weekend.
“I’m now looking forward to going to Assen in four weeks as it’s a circuit I know well and enjoy racing at.
“I’m determined to learn from some of my mistakes from the first two rounds and show my potential by getting a good solid result.”
This weekend Cook heads to Snetterton for the next round of the British Talent Cup.
Following his success in the previous round, Cook has jumped up to third in the standings and will be targeting two more podium finishes to boost his title chances.