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Estoril test preview

The track action for the 2012 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup starts on Monday April 2nd at Estoril in Portugal, scene of so much dramatic Cup action in the past. Hopefully there will be no repeat of the lightning strike that hit competitors at last year’s GP as 24 of the best young riders in the world shake off the winter cobwebs and start the final season for the KTM RC125 2-strokes.

With a rest day on Wednesday and hard work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday there is ample time for the experienced young men to get back in the groove and for the new boys to learn what it is all about. There are 13 newcomers and 11 who stay from last year.

The man with the target on his back is of course last year’s Rookies Cup Champion Lorenzo Baldassarri. The 15 year old Italian is too young to move up to Moto3 and it is 2nd place finisher Arthur Sissis who has the ‘Rookies Cup Place’ in the factory KTM Moto3 team this year. Baldassarri and the other 23 are competing to take a similar spot for the 2013 World Championship season.

The racing year covers 15 races at 8 GPs, only the Italian round at Misano has a single race on the Saturday otherwise they are double race weekends and the desire to succeed in front of all the MotoGP team managers, media and fans is extreme. The TV audience is huge with both the United Kingdom and Italy being added to those nations around the globe already covering the series.

Baldassarri won 2 races last year and knows that a similar score this season will probably not be enough. He was helped by the mistakes made by other riders and by scoring in every race but sometimes he struggled to fight his way out of a pack and he will certainly be working on that from the start this year.

Another double winner was Philipp Oettl and the 15 year old German would have been a serious title threat had he not missed races through injury. He also throttled back early to hand the final race victory of the year to Florian Alt. He will only expunge that hideous memory by claiming the Cup this season, last year he was 4th.

It wasn’t only that good fortune that made 15 year old Alt a race winner last year, in the second half of the year he was usually racing at the front and might well have done so before but for also suffering an early season injury. He was 6th in the final standings.

They are just 3 of the 24 names who have their body and mind committed to Rookies success this year. They will all benefit from the Cup’s constant development including the major partnership with IPONE, the 100% motorcycle oil who join KTM and Alpinestars as backbone supporters.

KTM are already working on the 4-stroke that will power the Rookies Cup from 2013 onwards. It will of course be a close brother to the Moto3 machine that carries their Grand Prix men this season, including ex Rookies Danny Kent and Sissis. Similarly Alpinestars never ease up on their technical development, more than keeping pace with the safety demands of our sport as well as clothing us in style. They are joined by the growing list of suppliers including Dunlop, Oakley, Geox and Rizoma.

The first races of the season are part of the Spanish Grand Prix on April 28th and 29th in Jerez, the following weekend is the Portuguese GP in Estoril. The year concludes with the Cup’s first visit to Aragon at their Grand Prix on September 29th and 30th, just over 5 months that will be key to the future of some very talented individuals.