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3 days ago
By motogp.com

Moto3™ Rookie of the Year battle rolls on

Mir, Di Giannantonio and Bulega locked in fight for fourth place in the championship and Rookie of the Year title

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) wrapped up the Moto3™ World title at Aragon with four races to go in 2016, but there is still plenty to decide in the category over the remaining rounds.

Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) will continue to dispute the runner-up spot, whilst the battle for fourth rages on between a trio of newcomers to the World Championship in 2016: Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing VR46 Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3).

All three debuted last year as wildcards and in 2016 as permanent riders they are each in contention for the Rookie of the Year award, after breakthrough performances by all three.

Spanish 19 year-old Mir leads the way in the three-way fight for fourth with 117 points in the general standings. The highlight of the year so far for Mir was undoubtedly his victory in Austria on a weekend that he also achieved a career first pole position at the Red Bull Ring. Mir was also on the podium in third place at Misano in a hectic race and has consistently been in the top ten in the last five races.

Red Bull Ring delivers riveting last lap in Moto3™

Four points behind the Leopard Racing rider is the young and promising Italian Bulega, who some have claimed could be a natural successor to the great Valentino Rossi. In the fourth race of the year Bulega was on pole in Jerez and finished in second position in the race. The 17 year-old has not returned to the podium so far this season but regularly runs with the leading group in Moto3™ races.

Bulega: “There won't be anyone like Valentino”

Meanwhile, on 111 points, two behind Bulega, is another Italian teenager Di Giannantonio, who like Mir has graduated from the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup to Grand Prix racing. The 18 year-old took some time to adapt to the Moto3™ World Championship as he left the first five races of the year without a point to his name.

Who is Fabio Di Giannantonio?

When he did score point he did so in style at his home round, announcing himself on the world scene with a brilliant second place at Mugello, which he has followed up with further rookie season podiums at Assen and Brno. Of the three Rookie of the Year contenders Di Giannantonio is the only one to have reached the podium three times in a superb debut campaign.

With the likes of Binder and Navarro moving into Moto2™ next season Mir, Bulega and Di Giannantonio are likely to be starring towards the top of the Moto3™ standings again in 2017.