Smith and Cortese step forward

Monday, 14 December 2009

English and German riders make big impressions throughout season and finish the 2009 125cc World Championship as two of only four non-Spaniards inside the top 10.

The dominance of Spanish riders in the 125cc class was clear in 2009 with four in the top five, but there were impressive displays from Bradley Smith and Sandro Cortese to ensure that Britain and Germany were represented in the top 10.

Challenging for the title this year, Smith ended his fourth season in the category as runner-up to World Champion Julián Simón, who was his Bancaja Aspar team mate in 2009. The 19 year-old pushed the eventual winner throughout the campaign, while Cortese proved an able replacement at the Ajo Interwetten team for the 2008 World Champion Mike di Meglio.

In his first season on the Bancaja Aspar team, Smith realised the potential that had been restricted to a best placed finish of sixth in 2008. Two wins and seven further podiums were the hallmarks of a successful campaign, with a first World Championship GP victory at Jerez in the third race of the season a sign of what was to come. Six successive podiums in the final six races were a strong finish to Smith’s year, and his battles with Simón in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia added to the excitement.

Now installed as a firm favourite for the 2010 title, the Oxford rider was also one of only three riders – Andrea Iannone and Simón the others – who was able to win a race from pole position when he took victory in Italy.

Cortese, in his fifth full season in the World Championship, also had his best season to date. Recording his first GP podium in the opening race of the season in Qatar the German rider repaid the faith placed in him by his Finnish team with two more top-three finishes, at Estoril – where he fought with Pol Espargaró for a win – and Phillip Island.

A first career pole position at Assen was a further indication of Cortese’s ability, and the 19 year-old will continue his development on the Derbi machine with Ajo Interwetten next year.

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