The first track action for the inaugural season of the NTC takes place in Germany
It's been a long wait but the Northern Talent Cup class of 2020 have finally been able to get out on track and start getting ready to race. A two-day test at Oschersleben gave the field their first chances to ride the KTMs they'll be competing with this season, with 12 half hour sessions and a practice race start on Sunday to get them really ready for Round 1.
On Day 1 the quickest out the blocks was Romanian rider Jacopo Hosciuc (Hos Racing Team) as he managed to pull half a second clear of nearest rival Jonas Kocourek (Junior Racing Team of Automotodrom Brno). The Czech rider had closer company from compatriot - and teammate - Jakub Gurecky, however, as the latter slotted into third just half a tenth in further arrears. That's pretty close after six hours on track!
German Luca Göttlicher (intAct Battery Power Juniors) was fourth representing the home nation for both the test and Rounds 1-3, with Austrian Jakob Rosenthaler (RTR – Racing Team Rosenthaler) locking out the top five and still within nine tenths of the top despite this being the very first time the grid had been out on track.
On Day 2, the laptimes tumbled and the fastest lap of the day was an impressive six tenths quicker than the previous. That was put in by German rider Noel Malvin Willemson (NW Racing) as he stamped some authority on Sunday, and he was also half a second clear at the top - as Hosciuc had been the day before. The Romanian rider showed good speed again as well and was the man in second, laying down an early marker of consistency in the NTC.
Third place went the way of Austrian Niklas Kitzbichler (Racing-Team-Kitzbichler) as he moved up from Saturday, ending Day 2 just 0.042 off second, with Hungarian Tibor Varga (Forty Racing) in fourth but a few more tenths in arrears. The top five was completed by Freddie Heinrich (PrüstelGP Juniorteam), just 0.008 ahead of sixth...
That small gap - or something like it - was something seen a few times on the timesheets from the first NTC event. Around Oschersleben there were some fiercely competitive groups on the combined times, with nothing to choose between two, three, five or more riders. That bodes well for a year of competition and it will be interesting to see if it shuffles once again as we head for the very different Sachsenring for Round 1.
That takes place alongside the IDM from the 7th to 8th of September... so can the likes of Willemson and Hosciuc keep their names at the top? Or will the unique layout of the track, the added track time and the fact that they'll be racing for the first time give us another shuffle? Make sure to stay up to date on northerntalentcup.com, motogp.com and across social media as Round 1 appears on the horizon!