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Bonsey flies flag for US in 125

Bonsey flies flag for US in 125

The coming season will see American 125cc World Championship rookie Steve Bonsey become the first US rider to enter the class for a full season since Alan Scott in the 1980s, and the first American rider in the class since Jason di Salvo in 1999.

The coming season will see American 125cc World Championship rookie Steve Bonsey become the first US rider to enter the class for a full season since Alan Scott in the 1980s, and the first American rider in the class since Jason di Salvo in 1999.

US competitors have been prominent in the premier class since the late 1970s, from the great names of yesteryear such as Kenny Roberts Sr, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Randy Mamola, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz, through to the current crop of American MotoGP heroes Kenny Roberts Jr, Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and John Hopkins.

However, the sight of an American rider in the smaller classes has not been so commonplace. Many US riders rise to prominence in their homeland before switching directly to MotoGP, rather than serving an apprenticeship in the 125cc or 250cc World Championships en route to the premier class, as tends to be the European way.

Of the four current American MotoGP regulars only Roberts Jnr has competed in a smaller class race, having made three 250cc appearances in 1994 before a full season the following year. Indeed the history of US riders outside the premier class makes for interesting reading.

Roberts Snr, who advises and mentors Bonsey, set an example which both his sons followed, appearing in the 250cc category before proceeding to the premier class, although in the case of Kurtis Roberts this only led to a few MotoGP class appearances.

The list of Grand Prix riders from the United States who have had a taste of 250cc before moving into the premier class also includes three time 500cc champion Rainey and four time premier class world championship runner-up Mamola.

Indeed, the 250cc World Championship has twice been won by Americans, with John Kocinski taking the same title in 1990 as his legendary compatriot Freddie Spencer won in 1985. Spencer famously won the then 500cc premier class World Championship the same year, riding two World Championship races at each Grand Prix.

In total there have been 142 individual appearances by Americans in the 250cc World Championship, the first being in 1952 by Bob Gehring and the most recent being by Chuck Sorensen in 2002. Bonsey will add to the all-time tally of appearances in the 125cc class which stands at just 46 - the earliest being by Rick Schell and Joe Tate at Daytona in 1965 and the last being by Di Salvo in Argentina in 1999. Meanwhile, there have been just six individual American appearances outside the premier class since 1997, four in 250cc and two in 125cc.

Di Salvo, who made those two appearances in the 125cc championship in 1999 and a further two in the 250cc category in 2001, is of course a star of the AMA Superbike series but has reportedly been eyeing a ride in MotoGP for some time.

Other US riders appearing temporarily on the Grand Prix scene include Jim Filice, Bubba Shobert and Rich Oliver, who all made the odd appearance at Laguna Seca in 250cc in the late 1980s. The trio also made a handful of premier class guest appearances between them. In addition, Chris D'Aliusio, Kevin Murray and Takahito Mori each made single guest appearances in the 125cc class in the mid 1990s.

As for new Red Bull KTM GP recruit Bonsey, having made the transition from dirt-track racing to road-bikes via Freddie Spencer's racing school he should be well aware of the history of Americans in Grands Prix. However, with the exception of possible wildcards or replacement riders Bonsey will not have any compatriots competing against him in the 125cc World Championship this season but he is sure to take inspiration from the like of Edwards, Hayden, Hopkins and Roberts Jr in the paddock throughout the forthcoming campaign.

And of course, he can always count on sound advice from mentor and MotoGP legend Roberts Snr, without whom his arrival on the World Championship would most likely not have been possible. Bonsey's dream will be to become the first US rider to win the 125cc World Championship and one day follow his tutor into the premier class.

Tags:
125cc, 2007, Stevie Bonsey

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