There is more movement afoot in the Moto3 class for next season. Today, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team announced that they have signed 2013 Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika for 2014. The young Czech rider will join Australian rider Jack Miller and Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin on board factory-backed KTM Moto3 machines for next season.
Though Hanika's signing had been rumored since Misano, it marked a turnabout in fortunes for the young Czech prodigy. At Brno, Hanika was still without a ride for next season, the only offers he had requiring he bring sponsorship. By Misano, agreement with Ajo was as good as reached, the deal only just being announced.
That a rider like Hanika should have difficulty finding a deal speaks volumes of the financial problems faced by Moto3 teams. Hanika is very highly rated by all who have seen him race in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, series manager Peter Clifford describing him as 'the biggest talent the Red Bull Rookies has produced.' Hanika has shown maturity and talent in his domination of the series, yet Moto3 teams were still hesitant to sign him. With sponsors demanding instant success, young talent is being given less time to develop and learn. In the end, it took Red Bull to step up and support the young Czech rider who had come through the system.
Hanika's arrival means Arthur Sissis will have to make way at the Ajo team. After a promising start, the Australian had not made the progress which would have allowed him to keep his job. His future in Moto3 is uncertain at the current moment.
Below is the press release from the Ajo team announcing the deal:
Red Bull KTM Ajo sign Karel Hanika for 2014
2013 champion of the Red Bull Rookies Cup to ride with reigning Moto3 World Championship winning team.
Red Bull KTM Ajo have recruited young talent Karel Hanika for next season’s Moto3 World Championship campaign. The Czech rider, born in Brno on April 14th, 1996, is the winner of the 2013 edition of the Red Bull Rookies Cup and will debut in Grand Prix competition with the 2008, 2010 and 2012 lower cylinder category Teams World Champion.
Just like Danny Kent in 2011 and Arthur Sissis in 2012, 17 year-old Karel Hanika will make the move to the Moto3 World Championship with Aki Ajo’s team following success in the Red Bull Rookies Cup. The Czech rider took 3 wins and 4 podiums in the 2012 edition of the series, but this year has improved yet further to claim the title with two races in hand. Hanika has won 6 races in 2013 –half of those held so far– and finished runner-up at a further 3.
His results, riding and development were key to Red Bull KTM Ajo’s confidence in his abilities, and the team will challenge Hanika to continue his upward trajectory as part of their team for 2014.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager
"We are very happy to bring Karel [Hanika] to Red Bull KTM Ajo. He is a very talented young rider, who has had great races in the Red Bull Rookies Cup both this season and last season. Karel follows in the footsteps of Danny Kent and Arthur Sissis, moving from the Red Bull Rookies Cup to the World Championship with us. It is an honour for Red Bull KTM Ajo to have these young riders coming through, with their desire to work hard and learn after their time in that magnificent competition. I know that Karel is very motivated for next year, and that is the most important thing. After this announcement, the team will return our focus on our fight for the Moto3 title this season."
Karel Hanika - Rider
"Moving up to the Moto3 World Championship with Red Bull KTM Ajo is a dream for me. In my opinion this is the best team in the series and a perfect opportunity for me. I have to make the most of this unique chance. I don’t want to set goals for my first season in the World Championship, because it is still early, but I hope to have as much success as possible. I can’t wait for the first preseason tests and my first meeting with the team. The feeling about next season couldn’t be better."