Features 2 Nov 2017

Q&A: The road to GP racing

How the Rookies Cup and Asia Talent Cup series can assist young Australians.

Gaining an opportunity to establish yourself as an international racer has never been more difficult in some ways, but in in saying that, pathways to the grand prix racing are clearer than ever if you can stand out in a number of global development-type categories. While money talks more loudly than most things in the current era of world championship competition and personal backing is paramount, series such as the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup are providing serious stepping stones for the most gifted young talent around the globe. And with these types of opportunities within reach, it’s only a matter of time until another Aussie cracks the big time via this hard-fought process where only the most capable tend to shine.

Source: Supplied.

Q: What are the Asia Talent Cup and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup series?

A: Put simply, both are platforms established by MotoGP and World Superbike organiser Dorna Sports to develop new talent and feed them into the sport at the top level. As Australians, our riders have the opportunity to try out in Selection Events of each and we have had an assortment of racers contest the series since their introduction.

Q: How long have these opportunities existed?

A: In terms of the Red Bull Rookies, it’s been around since 2007 and a host of the current grand prix riders – including MotoGP rookie sensation Johann Zarco – learned their craft in the championship aboard KTM machinery. As for the Asia Talent Cup, it was formed in 2014 and has utilised Hondas since its inception with definite success.

Q: What events are the Cup series paired with?

A: As the name suggests, the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup is exclusively held alongside seven rounds of the MotoGP World Championship in Europe, while the six-round Asia Talent Cup is contested at a variety of high profile events in the region – MotoGP in Qatar, Japan and Malaysia, WorldSBK in Thailand, the Asia Road Racing Championship in Japan and also at a Malaysian Superbike event.

Q: Who have the most successful Australians been in the past?

A: There have been a number of very good riders from Australia compete in both the Red Bull Rookies and Asia Talent Cup, however the one that stands out in particular would be Arthur Sissis. He first entered the series in 2010 and was runner-up in 2011, leading to a full-time Red Bull KTM Ajo ride in the Moto3 World Championship. He had a best result of third at Phillip Island in 2012 as a rookie, but was never quite able to make the impact that countryman Jack Miller did during a similar time-frame.

Source: Supplied.

Q: Will there be any of our racers on the grid for 2018?

A: Absolutely! And that’s what has essentially led us to this piece of content. Newly-crowned Australian Over 300 Supersport champion Billy Van Eerde recently made the cut to ride in both series, in Europe and Asia, which is an incredible opportunity for him. He’ll be the lone Red Bull Rookie from down under, however Senna Agius and Benjamin Baker have also been selected to for the Asia Talent Cup.

Q: How experienced do you have to be to go and try out?

A: That’s the thing with these systems, is that it’s not necessary to have an extensive background specific to road racing. Needless to say, it most definitely helps, but considering Australian riders’ skills on the dirt we’ve sent some seriously capable young guys over there who have impressed.