2011 SEASON PREVIEW - THE WORLD AWAITS ITS FUTURE STARS
South Africa, Germany, Australia, the Czech Republic or any of the 14 nations represented might carry off this year's Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The first race takes place on April 2nd as part of the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
It opens the 5th Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season and 25 of the world's best teenage racers from as far apart as Malaysia and the USA plus the length and breadth of Europe, from Finland to Portugal face off in the greatest opportunity in their careers.
For this year the number of races is increased to 14 so the riders get more occasions to develop their skills and prove themselves in front of the Grand Prix fans, teams and media.
Most of the 8 GPs, in Jerez, Estoril, Silverstone, Assen, Mugello, Sachsenring, Brno and Misano feature 2 Rookies races with events both on the GP qualifying day and on the race day itself. Only the Italian rounds have a single race on the day of GP qualifying.
The Rookies are hoping that they can emulate their heroes such as Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso or Hiroshi Aoyama, all Red Bull athletes and World Champions who now contest the MotoGP class. With their aim clearly set, the season's hard work for the Rookies begins at the Estoril pre-season test on March 11th 12th and 14th.
Once again the Cup machinery is the KTM RC125, propelling the teenagers at GP speeds. Errors are serious but at least they benefit this year again from the protection of the Alpinestars race equipment. With the top equipment and support the teenagers could not have a better springboard to a GP career.
The last four years have already shown that the best of the Rookies get the chance to move on to the 125 Grand Prix category and those successful in previous seasons such as Luis Salom, Jakub Kornfeil and Danny Kent are now established GP 125 men. The path is clear and 25 young men are determined to take it.
Of last year's top 10 only South Africa's Brad Binder remains in the Cup for 2011. It is his 3rd Rookies season but he is still only 15 and as he finished 5th in last year with two brilliant 2nd places behind Cup winner Jake Gagne at the Sachsenring he goes into this season as favourite for Cup honours.
He will not have things his own way as others like Czech 17 year old Tomas Vavrous and 14 year old German Florian Alt will certainly challenge him. Alt scored a superb 6th in his first ever Rookies race, the opening round of the 2010 season in Jerez, he backed that up by finishing well in the majority of races and will be looking for race wins this season.
Vavrous knows that he has to put some of last year's mistakes behind him but he certainly has the pace to be a race winner as he looks at his second Rookies Cup season.
Another man to watch is Australian 15 year old Arthur Sissis, the speedway expert is starting his 3rd Rookie season and after scoring in all but one race last year knows that more time on a road racer could see him get the kind of victories he enjoys so freely on the dirt.
Though 16 year old Frenchman Alan Techer only finished 22nd in the 2010 Cup standings that was entirely because he missed most of the season due to injury. He finished his first Rookies race in 9th place but crashed early in the second race in Jerez. He picked the bike and continued, not knowing that the brake lever had been damaged. It broke at the final corner before the finish and Alan broke his left upper arm in the fall. He rode again at the end of the season but is now fully recovered and determined to put up with last year's frustration.
The influx of new talent this season is also impressive and no doubt there will be those in their first season with strong ideas about shaking up the more experienced teenagers.