16 year old, Jonathan Rea from Ballyclare, Northern Ireland has been selected from four promising finalists to join the Red Bull Rookie 125cc team for the 2003 season.

Over a hundred teenagers applied to win the one-year race contract and 20 semi finalists were chosen to attend the academy day at Rockingham Speedway in December last year, where they demonstrated their talent to a panel of elite motorsport judges.

Four finalists were then picked to go to the final selection in Cartagena, Spain where they had the opportunity to spend two days training with the current team and gain valuable advice from Red Bull Rookie coach, Robin Appleyard and MotoGP star Jeremy McWilliams.

"It's very difficult to choose just one rider when there isn't a huge amount of difference in their abilities and they all have such great potential. Whatever the outcome, just being involved with the Red Bull Rookie programme will provide a stepping stone into their future careers," said McWilliams. "Cartagena is a really technical and challenging track and the best rider will shine through on a circuit like this."

Rea gave an incredible performance on the circuit today and is a true Rookie in every sense of the word, having only ridden on a race bike three times. He is an experienced motorcross rider and has won every round of the Iris and Ulster Motocross championship races bar one.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can't wait to start riding with the team," said a delighted Jonathan.

The Red Bull Rookie programme is already recognised by other teams and the apprenticeship provides an excellent grounding in the sport - indeed current Red Bull Rookies, Midge Smart and Guy Farbrother, finished 4th and 6th respectively in the British 125cc championship last year.

"The improvement of Midge and Guy over the last season and even the improvement of the finalists over the last few days in Spain has been incredible and I think this is positive proof that our programme works," stated Linda Pelham, Motorsports Manager at Red Bull. "Our aim with a third rider was to find someone who would really gain the most from a season with the team and we're looking forward to having Jonathan on board."

Team Manager, Robin Appleyard, a former 125 champion and GP rider added: "The decision to have the final test out in Spain has definitely been justified as all four riders have improved immeasurably during the course of the last few days and I hope it will allow the other three to carry this experience into the new racing season."

Judges commenets:

Winner - Jonathan Rea (16):
From Ballyclare in Northern Ireland. Won every round of the Iris and Ulster motocross championship races bar one.

Judges comments: "He's only ridden twice on a road race bike before and put in an incredible performance."

Michael Robertson (14):
From Dalkeith, Lothian. 2002 Scottish GP 125, Melville GP 125 and NEMCC GP 125 champion, fourth in the Stars of Tomorrow at Darley

Judges comments: "Great style and lines through the corners and was very late on the brakes."

Ashley Beech (14):
From Oldham. Minimoto in 2000, Red Bull wild-card at Oulton Park in 2002.

Judges comments: "Smooth, fast but also aggressive on the track. He's also got a confident and positive attitude off the bike."

Daniel Cooper (14):
From Stroud, Gloucestershire. North Gloucestershire road racing club junior and open 125 champion.

Judges comments: "He looked assured and confident all day. He's only 14 and could really shine with the experience of the Rookie team supporting him."

 

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