Pressures mounting as Le Mans looms

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Monday, 13 May 2013

Moto2™ has a new World Championship leader as the series travels from Spain to France, courtesy of Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat’s glorious first-time win at Jerez. With Kalex riders topping the standings, pressures of various forms now lie on riders’ shoulders.

Rabat’s victory could not have been more emotional. Not only was the Tuenti HP 40 rider on home turf, but he celebrated his first World Championship success barely 14 months after the loss of his mother. Furthermore and perhaps comfortingly to the 23-year-old, the win came on Spain’s equivalent of Mothering Sunday. He now bears the responsibility of carrying the lead in the riders’ standings for the very first time.

Teammate Pol Espargaro - the pre-season title favourite for many - finds himself third overall and 11 points in arrears of leader Rabat: certainly not in the script before the start of the campaign. Furthermore, the brother of MotoGP™ rider Aleix is now being linked with a Monster Yamaha Tech 3 ride for the next two years. The result? The world is very much watching, analysing what the media is reporting as the possible replacement of Cal Crutchlow.

In between the Tuenti riders and on similar Kalex machinery (but competing with the Marc VDS Racing Team) is Britain’s Scott Redding. In a similar case to Rabat, his first career win also came at home - in the 125 race at Donington Park in 2008, but at the more tender age of 15. He may be yet to claim a win in the intermediate class, but the Gloucester rider’s consistency of two second places and one fifth is paying dividends while very much turning him into a genuine championship challenger.

There’s pressure of a slightly different sort for Nico Terol. The Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 rider triumphed brilliantly in Texas and was fifth in Spain, but finds himself fourth in the championship (14 points in arrears of the leader) due to a 14th place finish in the Qatar season-opener. As for Britain’s Gino Rea, he has amassed enough public donations to be able to race as a wildcard with a privately-entered FTR bike. Also making his first appearance of the year in Le Mans this weekend is Malaysia’s Hafizh Syahrin, who raced to a highly impressive fourth place at Sepang last year.

Sunday’s Moto2™ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France begins at 12:20pm local time (GMT +2) and will be decided over the course of 21 laps.

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