Five young hopefuls have been identified as the latest batch of Red Bull Rookies to hold the future of British motorcycle road racing, following exhaustive trials throughout December.

Ashley Beech, Daniel Cooper, Michael Robertson - all 14 years of age - 15-year old Jonathan Rea and Barry Burrell (16) came out on top of over a hundred applicants for the scheme, which moves into its second year in 2003.

A cold day at Rockingham Motor Speedway was the venue for the battle of the bikes, with 20 finalists having to be whittled down to the final five by a panel of judges that included former BSB champion John Reynolds and ex-Red Bull Ducati team-mate Sean Emmett.

"Once again, I have been really impressed by the talent," JR admitted, "Today, we have really seen the best of both worlds, as the track has been wet and dry and, to be a top class rider, you need to be good in both."

The five remaining riders will now go to Spain next month, along with existing Red Bull rookies Guy Fairbrother and Midge Smart, with the lucky winner of a shoot-out staying on to test with the team ahead of his first race of the season, at Silverstone in March.

"All the lads have shown great commitment and it was a hard task selecting the final five," commented Red Bull Rookie team manager - and selection panel judge - Robin Appleyard, himself a former 125cc GP rider.

"It will be even harder to make the final selection!"

 

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