The world of motorcycle racing is undergoing a major change behind the scenes. Increasingly, teams are working on creating a path for bringing on young and talented riders. Where once individual teams would merely scour the classes below the one they competed in for talent, and engage in bidding wars for the most promising riders, now, they take a very different tack. Talent scouting starts at the very lowest level, and a path created all the way from Pre-Moto3 to MotoGP.
One of the first examples of teams creating such a pathway came about when Marc VDS teamed up with Monlau for the 2015 season. Monlau had an existing racing structure in Spain, reaching down to regional championships, as well as a technical academy for budding race engineers. Marc VDS had a successful Moto2 team which could take over from the Monlau operation, and a newly created MotoGP operation. Suddenly, the team had a complete package they could offer riders, with sponsorship and consistent support starting in Pre-Moto3 and carrying on through the FIM CEV, Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP. All with the backing of Spanish beer giant Estrella Galicia.
Other teams have now followed suit. The Leopard team has riders in the FIM CEV and Pre-Moto3. Ajo has a junior team in the FIM CEV, and the Finnish team manager's close links to KTM mean that he now can also offer a path from the Junior World Championship to MotoGP, all with the backing of Red Bull and the Austrian factory.
At Austin, we spoke to Gino Borsoi, sporting manager for the Aspar team. Aspar are engaged in a similar activity, having started a team in Pre-Moto3 and the RFME Spanish championship, as well as the FIM CEV. In the Grand Prix paddock, Aspar have teams in Moto3 and MotoGP, though they are currently missing a Moto2 team. They would like to see that change at some point in the future, so they can take riders all the way to MotoGP. Borsoi explained the team's thinking to us.
"For us, a Moto2 team is something that we have in our plan for the future, because we have a school with 85cc Pre-Moto3 and Spanish championship Moto3. Then we are also two riders in the CEV FIM championship. We have Moto3, so we need Moto2 and MotoGP, then we have all the classes from zero," Borsoi said. "We have one rider at the moment, a really good rider who is nine years old. We won today [23rd April – DE] in Spain the 85cc category. In Pre-Moto3, we were fighting until the last lap for win the race, but he crashed. But anyway, we have a really good plan there. We have also Nico Terol there. He helps us to grow up all the young riders and to be ready for the world championship."
Borsoi also explained the benefits the team sees in having a full set of teams through multiple classes and series. "I think it’s a great program first," he said. "It’s good for us of course, but it’s good also for our sponsors to have a school with young riders. They have a chance to help them to grow up and in the future maybe become world champion. It’s a great project for everybody. Necessary, well, you have time to help educate and train them with your idea to tell them how to ride, how to be professional and become a good rider in the racing world. So if you start from zero, it’s a bit more easy. It’s easy for them to understand what you want."
Borsoi contrasted the task of bringing on a young rider to taking a rider from an existing team in the paddock, without any input to their education and training as a rider. "If you take a rider from the paddock, this is what you have. Sometimes it’s difficult to learn them how to manage some situation." By contrast, if a young rider has already come up through the ranks with the same team, things are much easier.
This is very much a development of recent years, Borsoi acknowledged, and part of modern racing. "A lot of these schools were born maybe three or four years ago. It’s something that at the end we really need." It is also part of the professionalization of motorcycle racing. "Racing is becoming more professional. By the time the rider arrives in the world championship, let’s say they are really, really good. They are ready to fight, because the mentality is quite different compared here."
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