Not only does the FIM Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race action start this coming weekend with the first 2 races as part of the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez on April 28th and 29th but applications are also open for the Rookies Selection Process. While 24 of the world's fastest teenage racers are chasing their dreams in Jerez hundreds more will be preparing their online applications that could qualify them for the Selection Event leading to the 2013 Cup.
Jerez is the traditional starting point for the Cup that is contested over 15 races this year. Last year Jerez saw Philipp Oettl begin his challenge in superb style with a 1st and a 2nd. This year he has already won the opening round of the Spanish Championship at the same venue so on those results the 15 year old German comes into the GP weekend as firm favourite.
The Rookies Pre Season Test in Estoril puts a different slant on things though as Oettl struggled to swap back from the 4-stroke Moto3 KTM he rode to victory in the Spanish Championship just days before. He ended the test 17th fastest, tired and frustrated with trying to regain his feeling for the 2-stroke KTM RC125. “It isn't easy and I can't say exactly what the problem is. I've done so much riding in the last 6 days (his father said over 1000km) that I can't really sort out where the problem is. That is what I have to work on, understanding the differences and how to adapt.”
2011 FIM Cup winner Lorenzo Baldassarri was similarly off form for the same reason and was 11th fastest at the test. It seems that the general feeling is that the 4-stroke Moto3 bikes are easier to ride and getting back on the 2-strokes is a bit of a shock as they require more precision and it is easy to get into trouble.
It may well be then that reigning British 125cc Champion Kyle Ryde is the man to watch in Jerez. The 14 year old Briton was fastest in Estoril and has since scored a close 2nd in the opening race of the British 125 Championship where he is also riding a 2-stroke.
Ryde's bike failed to start for the 2nd British Championship race and both rounds were won by Bradley Ray who is in his first Rookies race in Jerez after being one of the revelations of the Estoril Test. The 14 year old Briton was 9th fastest as he learnt to ride the KTM.
Well ahead of Ray in the Estoril times was fellow newcomer Karel Hanika and the Czech has just turned 16 on April 14th. He loved riding the KTM for the first time and was 3rd fastest behind the much more experienced Florian Alt. The German turns 16 the day after the Spanish GP, 3 days before Oettl who was his arch rival last season. Alt scored his first Rookies victory in the final race of the year at Misano when Oettl throttled off too early. Not a mistake he will repeat in Spain next weekend. Oettl's bigger worry will be swapping bikes again after the 2nd Moto3 race last weekend in Navarra.
Prospective Rookies for 2013 can apply online at www.redbullrookiescup.com.
2012 FIM Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Calendar
April 28-29, Jerez (Spain), Rounds 1+2
May 5-6, Estoril (Portugal), Rounds 3+4
June 16-17, Silverstone (United Kingdom), Rounds 5+6
June 29-30, Assen (Netherlands), Rounds 7+8
July 7-8, Sachsenring (Germany), Rounds 9+10
August 25-26, Brno (Czech Republic), Rounds 11+12
September 15, Misano (San Marino), Round 13
September 29-30, Aragon (Spain), Rounds 14+15