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Moto3 2013: The Rookies

29 March 2013

By Neil Morrison

The Moto3 World Championship proved a fantastic alternative to it's two-stroke 125cc predecessor in 2012.

The positives for the new class included the number of rookies honing their skills at the front of the field. As early as round two, one rookie (Alex Rins) took pole and another (Romano Fenati) won the race.

Niccolo Antonelli, Arthur Sissis and Brad Binder also added spice and depth to a highly talented field, featuring close to the front at some point.

As Qatar 2013 approaches we take a look at the next wave of newcomers, poised to make their first appearance as full-time riders in the junior grand prix class.

#3 Matteo Ferrari – Italy - Ongetta Centro Seta FTR Honda – 16 years old
The 16 year-old Italian steps up to the world stage, like countryman Romano Fenati a year before, after winning the European Moto 3 Championship. He clinched the title at Albacete after beating fellow rookie Juanfran Guevara by a mere 0.002 of a second.

As a child he quickly progressed through mini-bike racing and was one of a chosen few to compete in Honda's Italy Racing project aboard a NSF 100. He began racing 125s in 2011 and rode in Gresini's junior team last year. He will ride alongside Isaac Viñales in the Ongetta set up in 2013.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 24th
Jerez I – 27th
Jerez II – 30th
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+2.028sec
+3.141sec
+2.925sec

#4 Francesco Bagnaia – Italy - Team Italia FMI FTR Honda - 16 years old
When you look through the glittering roll call of riders who were given their first chance by Team Italia's set up you realise not any spotty faced pup can make the grade. Italian world champions Cadalora, Gresini, and Locatelli are some of those who debuted in the famous blue and white.

“Pecca” Bagnaia won the European mini-GP championship in 2009, before moving on to racing 125s in Spain. Emilio Alzamora saw something special and he contested the 2011 & 2012 CEV series in the Spaniard's well-financed team. He scored two consecutive 3rd place championship finishes as a result.

The start of 2013 will be hampered by a broken radius bone in his left arm, sustained during a fall on the third day of testing at Jerez. He is facing a fight against time to be fit for Qatar and may go against doctor's wishes and ride. An impressive 17th placing at the Valencia test suggests that under the watchful eye of 2000 125cc champion Roberto Locatelli, Bagnaia is one to watch when he regains full fitness.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 17th
Jerez I – 26th
Jerez II – 25th
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+1.729sec
+3.024sec
+2.512sec

#11 Livio Loi – Belgium – Mark VDS Kalex KTM - 15 years old
The 15 year-old Belgian won't even be competing at the opening two rounds as he turns 16 on the 27th April, a week before round 3 at Jerez (sound familiar? Jorge Lorenzo made his Grand Prix debut in similar circumstances.)

His father bought him a Honda QR50 at the age of three and he has continued his upward trajectory from there. Having cut his teeth in the Red Bull Rookies in 2012, Livio makes the step up to the world stage with Scott Redding's Mark VDS squad who are competing in Moto3 for the first time with Kalex KTMs.

After a slow start Livio won 1 race last year in the Red Bull rookies programme and placed 14th at the official Valencia test. He has already received glowing reviews from team members and is highly tipped by those within the paddock in the know. Standing at a mere 158cm, his baby-faced appearance may be deceiving. Livio is the foremost rookie to keep your eyes on in 2013.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 14th
Jerez I – 21st
Jerez II – 21st
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+1.451sec
+2.771sec
+2.194sec

#22 Ana Carrasco – Spain - Laglisse KTM - 16 years old
With Elena Rosell leaving the Moto 2 class in 2013, Ana Carrasco is the paddock's sole female entry. The recently turned 16 year old will partner Maverick Viñales in the Laglisse KTM squad, who she rode for in the Spanish CEV Moto3 class last year.

The Murcia based teenager scored points in three Spanish Championship races last year and will face a tough task to reach the points at World Championship level. She has youth and the proper equipment in abundance though and her performance at the Valencia test suggests she could trouble the point scorers on numerous occasions.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 16th
Jerez I – 22nd
Jerez II – 31st
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+1.647sec
+2.868sec
+3.105sec

#29 Hyuga Watanabe – Japan – Team Lafonte Tasca Racing Honda – 18 years old
The young Japanese will be competing in the former Caretta technology team after moving to Europe in 2012 to contest the CEV championship. After taking some time to settle and adjust to the different pace of life, Watanabe gradually got to grips with living in Spain and scored a podium at the Albacete round late last year.

There were some in Japan eager to measure his development overseas and he was rewarded for his progress with a wildcard ride in the Motegi Moto 3 race, finishing just outside the points in 16th.

His testing times have been a little underwhelming and team coordinator Giorgio Bertelli acknowledges Watanabe may need more time on the bike before he can push towards the points. He cites double 125 world champion Kazuto Sakata as his idol and he looks to be the first Japanese point scorer in the Moto 3 category.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 29th
Jerez I – 31st
Jerez II – 33rd
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+2.870sec
+3.518sec
+3.958sec

#57 Eric Granado – Brazil – Aspar Kalex KTM - 16 years old
Eric Granado has followed the path treaded by Sao Paulo's other great two-wheeled export, Alex Barros, to Europe. After making his name in regional Brazilian mini bike and 80 cc championships he came across to Spain to compete in the CEV, finishing an impressive 5th in 2011 at just 15 years of age.

You may recognise the Brazilian and his Barros-esque green and yellow lid from his rides in the Moto2 class last year on board the JIR MotoBI. Having started the season late at Silverstone, he was very much thrown in at the deep end and failed to score a point in the remainder of the season. The Brazilian has time on his side however. Aspar clearly saw enough potential to place him alongside Championship contender Jonas Folger for their Kalex mounted KTM assault on the 2013 season.

Testing has seen steady improvements, with an excellent final two days in Jerez promoting him inside the top ten.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 27th
Jerez I – 19th
Jerez II – 8th
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+2.227sec
+2.729sec
+1.368sec

#58 Juan Francisco Guevara – Spain - CIP TSR Honda - 17 years old
The splendidly named Spaniard already has 2 starts in the junior class. He competed at Aragon and Valencia last year and performed admirably in the damp at the final round, scoring 4 points for 12th place.

He narrowly missed out on the European Moto 3 crown last year and has arrived at preseason tests in good shape after an intensive off-season training program. He forced everyone to sit up and take notice at the initial Jerez test, comfortably ending the test inside the top ten in 6th. He will ride alongside Alan Techer in the CIP set up and could be pushing for points early on.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 19th
Jerez I – 6th
Jerez II – 28th
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+1.866sec
+1.371sec
+2.812sec

#65 Philipp Oettl – Germany - Paddock TT Motion Kalex KTM - 16 years old
The young German is not technically a rookie as he also wild carded at Valencia last year, scoring a mightily impressive 11th in the damp conditions. Before this, Oettl was perhaps best remembered for performing a Johan Zarco-esque bottling moment, prematurely sitting up to celebrate the win in a RBR race at the same Grand Prix weekend in Misano, 2011. He climbed aboard the podium cheeks blushed and head bowed as a disconsolate second place finisher.

That minor embarrassment aside however, his CV is mightily impressive. Son of 5-time GP winner Peter, Philipp will contest in the Paddock TT Motion team aboard a KTM. No stranger to fairing bashing and aggressive riding, Philipp first joined the Rookies programme in 2010 when he was just 13. In 2011 he won twice but injury hampered his end of season push. Last season he juggled the Spanish championship with the RBRC and scored a further win at Silverstone. His end of season ride last year suggests he has plenty of speed.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 18th
Jerez I – 23rd
Jerez II – 29th
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+1.810 secs
+2.873 secs
+2.874 secs

#66 Florian Alt – German - Kiefer Racing Kalex KTM - 17 years old
The future of German racing seems to be in good hands if Keifer Racing's appointment of 2012 Red Bull Rookies champion Florian Alt is anything to go by. After comfortably winning the championship with 4 wins, the youngster from Nümbrecht in Western Germany will partner Toni Finsterbusch for the 2013 Moto 3 campaign.

He was a staple of the German IDM Moto 3/125 championship last year too, winning 11 races on his way to the title. On two occasions, in Assen and Misano, he competed in the RBRC before being chauffeured back to Germany overnight by his father and mechanic, subsequently winning in the IDM the following day.

He clearly isn't shy of a touch of hard work and pragmatic thinking either. Alongside his riding duties, he attends business school in Gummersbach, believing he will eventually enter a “commercial profession” when his racing days are behind him. Although preseason results have been modest so far there is undoubted potential here.

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 33rd
Jerez I – 33rd
Jerez II – 32nd
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+5.373sec
+3.837sec
+3.366sec

#77 Lorenzo Baldassarri – Italy – Team Go & Fun Gresini FTR Honda - 16 years old
The 16 year old joins Nico Antonelli in Fausto Gresini's youthful all-Italian Moto 3 effort. He won the Red Bull Rookies championship in 2011, while completing his studies at school. He first competed in the Italian mini bike series aged 7 and after winning the National 50cc mini-bike championship in 2007 he graduated through the classes before joining the Red Bull Rookies programme in 2011.

His consistency shone through as he won twice, finished in the top 3 six times and scored in every race, narrowly beating Arthur Sissis to the crown in the final race at Misano. He balanced the Red Bull Rookies with the Spanish championship last year and, despite suffering from inconsistency, still managed a stunning race win at Jerez.

Fausto Gresini has seen a great deal of promise and feels his personality is suited to the demands and scrutiny of a world championship ride. He commented “Lorenzo showed his potential in 2011 when he won the Rookies Cup. He's an extrovert with a lot of desire to do well and he will now get that opportunity with us.”

Official pre-season Test Results:
Valencia – 21st
Jerez I – 28th
Jerez II – 22nd
Gap from 1st place at above tests:
+1.877sec
+2.267sec
+2.445sec


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