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Introducing Raymond Schouten: the next Dutch youngster making the leap to GPs
One of the new names to appear on the provisional entry list for the 2004 125cc World Championship is Raymond Schouten.The 18 year old has signed with the Honda Arie Molenaar racing team to make his GP bow for 2004 and becomes the latest talent to emerge from Holland. The son of a former national champion Schouten will join the renowned Molenaar set-up and come under the instruction of former 9 times GP winner Hans Spaan. "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; 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," said Arie Molenaar. Acting as chief mechanic Spaan has been working with Schouten over the last few months and guided him through two rounds of the Spanish CEV series to get the youngster up to speed. "The Dutch national level is low in comparison with that in Spain, Italy and Germany," remarked former double vice-World Champion. "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." "We have good experience with the Honda and Raymond will have to get a lot of practice and testing done in short-time with the kitted bike, that will arrive late as it is," Spaan continued. "I want to get him to as many tests as possible with other GP riders so that he can watch and learn before we go to Africa. It was beneficial that we went to Spain, the race at Jerez in particular allowed him to get some valuable circuit knowledge; it was bad luck that it rained." "Technically he is already very good. He can tell a lot about what he is doing right and wrong and knows how he should feel on the bike. This knowledge together with our data recording from the bike makes for an effective combination." Spaan and Molenaar hope to continue the dream that saw their successful combination aid Haruchika Aoki to glory in 1995 and 1996 and they see Schouten as the ideal investment. The teenager already has two GP appearances to his name and his last row place at Assen in 2002 saw him become the youngest ever Dutch rider to start a round of the World Championships. "I am so happy! You really don't expect a thing like this so early in your career," he said concerning his new deal. "It is especially good news because I lost out on a ride at the start of the this year and wondered if I might even be able to carry on racing, but now I am at the centre of a Grand Prix team and cannot wait to start. I always dreamed of this when I was a little boy; it's crazy!" "I competed one year with my Dad and I saw how hard it is with all the money and costs to try and run a team; I learnt a lot. Half way through this season the association with Hans started up and my confidence and my results immediately improved. I have already made two GP starts, both at Assen, and the two European races I contested this year was a good schooling. I was running third at Anderstorp until a mistake dropped me to seventh, but the finish was still above my expectations. At the Spanish Championship my riding was good but the level of the competition is so high, there were some 80 entrants, 50% of which is at GP level. At Valencia I crashed in first practice and missed qualifying by a fraction of a second. In Jerez I was much better and qualified 20th from a group of 70. Unfortunately it rained and I crashed. When you win in Holland it is no guarantee that you will be any good internationally; now it is all down to me."
13 years ago
13 years ago