The Road to MotoGP™: the first beginnings of World Champions

As Joan Mir celebrates the 2017 Moto3™ crown as the newest winner to come from it, we look through the Road to MotoGP™

Self-professed fan of Valentino Rossi and coming from the Jorge Lorenzo training program, Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) took the Moto3™ crown at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit – with two rounds to spare. The win in Australia was Mir’s tenth – the new all-time record – and ninth of the year.

Born in Palma de Mallorca, Mir became part of the Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Cup on the third time of asking, and soon began to rise to the top as he was runner-up in 2014. The following year, he was fourth in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship – and took a number of wins. Part of the Leopard junior program, Mir was then called up to debut in the World Championship at Phillip Island that season to replace the injured Hiroki Ono. The Mallorcan is now the latest World Champion and race winner to have come from the ‘Road to MotoGP™’ program, a Dorna initiative to promote and discover talent.

RedBull Rookies Cup - Joan Mir

The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Asia Talent Cup, the FIM CEV Repsol and soon to begin British Talent Cup form the biggest paths of the Road to MotoGP™ – and it also includes extra support for different Championships such as the ADAC Northern Europe Cup. More than the latest Champion to have walked that road, there are many riders who count on a history involved with one or more of these initiatives.

Traditionally, the route into the World Championship was the FIM CEV Repsol. Riders such as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and teammate Bradley Smith have raced through that route, as well as many more. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is the most recent former CEV Champion to become a World Champion, after winning the Moto3™ crown in 2014. Dennis Foggia is the most recent CEV Champion, and will move up to the world stage next season - also counting on some support from Valentino Rossi's VR46 Riders Academy initiative.

Now, a great number of the Moto3™ field have also come from the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Riders such as Mir’s current rivals Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) came from the competition – and Mir is the third Moto3™ World Champion in a row to have raced in the series, following Danny Kent in 2015 and Brad Binder in 2016. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) is another Champion - twice in the intermediate class - to have come through as a Rookie.

The Asia Talent Cup is a newer initiative, designed to widen accessibility across the globe and promote talent from Asia and Oceania. Winners now on the world stage include Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team), with last year’s Champion Somkiat Chantra on the way, now racing in the FIM CEV Repsol.

Beginning way back when as the first forays into talent discovery found riders such as Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Casey Stoner, two-time MotoGP™ World Champion, the Road to MotoGP™ has grown exponentially by 2017. Here is why the Road to MotoGP™ is important, in the words of those who climbed the same ladders:

Next, the British Talent Cup will be starting in 2018. The same format as the Asia Talent Cup, the competition is aiming to take talent from the British Isles to the world stage.