Dream debut for Can Öncü as he becomes youngest ever winner

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team

Turkish rider, 15, makes history twice in Valencia at his first Moto3 Grand Prix.

Turkish teenager Can Öncü made history twice at the final Moto3 race of the season at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Here is all you need to know:

–  At just 15 years and 119 days, Öncü was already the youngest ever rider to take the start line of a professional Grand Prix race.

–  In taking the chequered flag Öncü then broke the record previously held by Scott Redding to become the youngest ever Grand Prix winner.

–  Öncü is also now the first ever rider from Turkey to ever win a world championship race.

–  Tony Arbolino was comfortably leading the race, which was run in tricky wet conditions, before crashing out and allowing Öncü to take over the lead.

–  Riding for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, Öncü avoided disaster on the last lap when he nearly crashed out to finish with a time of 43:06:370. Jorge Martin was second with John McPhee completing the podium.

–  Öncü has a twin brother Deniz, who is also a motorbike racer.

–  The brothers were born in Alanya and grew up riding supermoto and motocross before converting to track racing.

–  Öncü won the Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2018, winning five races throughout the year to finish with 235 points. His brother Deniz won three races to finish second in the overall standings.


Could you have ever imaged a better debut in Moto3?
My expectation was to fight for the top five with Jorge Martin and Martin Bezzecchi because they are moving to Moto2, so it was a dream for me to fight with them for the first time. I don’t think they could battle so hard in the end so I could open a gap and it was incredible.

How proud are you to be the youngest Grand Prix winner in history?
It is perfect, a very happy feeling. Before the race I only knew I was the youngest ever driver, so when I finished first and I saw I broke another record I was really happy. This gives me two times more happiness!

How close were you to crashing out on that final lap? Did you think you had lost it?
I still don’t know how I controlled it. I thought I was crashing having been first but I didn’t and after that I went one gear higher around the corners to not make mistakes. At the last corner, I nearly stopped! I finished the race but it was really on the limit.

How will you celebrate tonight?
KTM did very well today in general, not just me, so I think there is a big party tonight!

How proud are you to be putting Turkish motorbike racing on the map?
It is incredible and I am really happy because of this. I was already winning a lot of races in Rookies Cup, but winning a World Championship race this year is a dream for me. I have met a lot of MotoGP and Moto2 riders as well and that is also a great feeling.

How much fun is it being able to race against your twin brother Deniz? Do you push each other a lot?
It is nice as when you have a brother on the circuit, you always know you have a support guy alongside you. You can completely trust him. Next year, when I don’t have him until half-way through the season, I think it will be a little boring without him but it is a new challenge and you need that sometimes. He will come to races to watch, but it won’t be as nice being alone without him all the time.

Who are your idols in the sport?
My brother is my idol in this sport.

Looking ahead to next year, what are your hoping for in your first full Moto3 season?
Like everybody, I want to win the Championship but before this I want to make a lot of podiums as thinking about the Championship at this stage is a little early. I want to have a lot of good results in the top five and top three, try not to crash, and take lots of points to have a good season for KTM.

What number will you ride?
61. I had 65 last year but couldn’t use it this year as it is taken. Some of my friends say 61 is a nice number and one is a good idea as it is normally for the champions. I like numbers in the 60s, so I put them together. I used it this year and was champion in the Rookies Cup, why not use it next year!

How well has the Red Bull Rookies Cup prepared you for a career in the professional ranks?
In Rookies Cup, I learned how to ride a bike and how to fight for a podium. Last year I was crashing every race and doing crazy mistakes but this year, I understood that if you make a mistake you lose everything. I always think this in the last laps and go more careful.




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