One of the few new names to appear on the provisional entry list for next year's 125cc World Championship is Raymond Schouten, who has signed with the Honda Arie Molenaar Racing team to make his grand prix bow.

The 18-year old is the latest talent to emerge from Holland and, as the son of a former national champion, will join the renowned Molenaar set-up with some expectation on his young shoulders.

"Normally, to get to this stage involves following a road through the European Championships, but Raymond has so much potential that we wanted to shorten this procedure," team boss Arie Molenaar explained, "Because of Vaessen and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, we were able to do this and I am very happy to have him as part of the team."

Schouten will come under the instruction of nine-time GP winner Hans Spaan, who will act as chief mechanic for the youngster. Spaan has been working with Schouten over the last few months and guided him through two rounds of the Spanish CEV series to get him up to speed.

"The Dutch national level is low in comparison with that in Spain, Italy and Germany," remarked the former double world championship runner-up, "I believe he learned more by contesting the last two rounds of the Spanish Championship this season that he did during a whole year in Holland. The difference between our national level and the GPs is huge, and Raymond knows that he will have to make a big effort in his first campaign.

"At the moment, he is one of the best Dutch riders, and we hope that, with every GP, he will learn more. If he finishes the first race in 30th and, by the last, he is within the points, then he will already be showing a progression."

Schouten is following in his father's footsteps by joining the grand prix ranks, and comes from one of the major 'race families' in Holland. The 18 year old talent's father and uncles all raced, with Mar Schouten gracing the grand prix scene between 1981-86, racing in both the 250cc and 350cc categories. After his retirement, Schouten Sr became chief engineer to fellow countryman Wilco Zeelenberg, who raced Honda and Suzuki factory bikes in the 250cc class and, later, a Yamaha 600 in Thunderbike and Supersport competition. Schouten was the highly-skilled technical brain behind Zeelenberg's 250cc GP win in 1991.

When Zeelenberg hung up his leathers, Schouten became chief engineer at the 250cc and 500cc DeeCee Jeans Racing Team, leading Alberto Puig, Johan Stigefelt, Robby Rolfo, Jurgen van den Goorbergh and Anthony West towards the top flight.

With his father working in grands prix, young Raymond started his motorsports career in motocross at the age of four, challenging for the KNMV Cup just six years later.

After four more years in motocross, the now 13-year old Schouten switched from dirt to tarmac, starting in the 50cc Scooter Cup, before graduating rapidly to the Dutch 125cc Championships after finishing third in the 2000 Yamaha TZR Cup.

Dutch motorsport federation KNMV acknowledged Schouten's talent and gave him dispensation to race at Assen when the national championships visited. After his first race miles at the 'cathedral' in 2001, when he finished seventh in the championship, the KNMV handed Schouten a 125c wildcard for the 2002 Dutch TT, making him the youngest Dutch Grand Prix participant ever, at the age of 17. Since then, he has qualified as the best Dutch rider at Assen, when handed a 2003 wildcard. Unfortunately, engine problems (2002) and a crash (2003) have prevented Schouten from finishing a GP to date - something he will be looking to put right in 2004.

In the past two seasons, Schouten has taken second and third places in the Dutch Championship, missing the crown by just 0.0728secs in 2002, and losing valuable ground when missing races through injury in 2003.

The Dutch federation gave him the opportunity to gain valuable international miles in 2003, however, taking part in the second half of the European Championship, and claiming 14th at Most, in the Czech Republic, and seventh at Anderstorp, in Sweden.

The KNMV and TT Circuit Assen will support the talented youngster with extra practice facilities and physical and mental training.