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Penalty strips Aussie of first Red Bull rookies podium

Young Aussie talent relegated to sixth after brave last-lap lunge.

Australian rider Billy van Eerde has scored his strongest result yet in the 2019 Red Bull Rookies Cup, despite being stripped of his podium place finish after the second race of the fourth round held at Germany’s Sachsenring over 5-7 July. The Aussie qualified in fourth place, just 0.151s off the best lap of the session posted by pole man Yuki Kunii (Japan), van Eerde got a decent start and was battling in the lead group before a heavy crash by Nicolás Hernández bought out the red flag, ending the race early and giving van Eerde a sixth-place finish. “It’s a shame it ended like that I felt good all race, the bike was working well and it was good fun battling at the front,” Billy said. “I probably relaxed a bit too much and then I had just started to push again when the red flag came out and ended it.” The next day in race two, the 17-year-old again found himself in sixth place on the final lap and among a 10-rider battle for third place. It was van Eerde who made it to the finish line first to take the last spot on the podium and his place in parc ferme before Race Direction ruled that the Aussie had gained an unfair advantage when he ran off track during the dramatic last lap and relegated him three places to sixth. “I think I deserved third,” van Eerde said afterwards. “I had no idea that the kerb was ending as we came down the waterfall, I didn’t see it, I was just battling the other guys. That’s tough.” The opening race at the Sachsenring was won by Spanish rider Pedro Acosta from Kunii and series leader Carlos Tatay, while Kunii celebrated the race-two win ahead of Tatay and Briton Max Cooke. Despite the sanction, two sixth-place finishes and 20 points was a boost to his season after scoring zero points in the first three races, and seven points at Assen with a ninth-place finish in the second race. Tatay currently leads on 156 points ahead of Kunii (109) and Acosta (79). Billy van Eerde is currently in 12th place from 25 riders on 27 points. The next round will be held at Misano in Italy on 14 September.