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To say the 2019 MotoGP™ grid sees a shakeup would be an understatement. Big name riders moving teams, teams moving to new manufacturers and brand-new teams joining the grid, just to name three components. But one of the most exciting prospects of 2019 will be the four rookies we’ll be welcoming to the premier class.
Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, 2018 runner-up Miguel Oliveira, race winner Fabio Quartararo and 2017 Moto3™ World Champion Joan Mir will all graduate from the intermediate class, and we couldn’t be more excited. So, let’s get to know each one of them a little more…
To put it simply, Bagnaia has had a stunning 2018 season. A maiden intermediate class win under the lights at the opening round in Qatar paved the way for the Italian to have a super consistent year, with the numbers speaking for themselves during his second Moto2™ campaign; 8 wins, 12 podiums, 5 pole positions, 301 points – and that’s before we’ve raced at Valencia.
Pecco Bagnaia masters Moto2™: a Champion is crowned
But let’s wind back the years to see Bagnaia’s rise. The 21-year-old first appeared on the Grand Prix racing scene in 2013 on board an FTR Honda machine, before a season with a KTM in SKY Racing Team VR46 followed. However, it was his 2015 and 2016 years on a Mahindra powered Aspar Team that caught the eye. A first GP podium would come his way at Le Mans in 2015, before his maiden win a year later at Assen followed. A win in Malaysia then capped off an impressive Moto3™ career that saw him take seven podiums before Bagnaia secured four rostrums in his rookie Moto2™ season. Now? A Ducati GP18 awaits as he partners Jack Miller in the Alma Pramac Racing garage.
Pushing Bagnaia almost all the way in 2018 was the ever-impressive Oliveira, who has been a prolific figure once again on the World Championship scene. Prior to him stepping up into World Championship racing, the Portuguese rider battled Maverick Viñales to the final race of the 2010 FIM CEV Repsol season – eventually finishing runner-up by two points. In 2013, Oliveira grabbed the headlines as he earned Mahindra’s first ever GP podium by taking P3 at the Malaysian GP.
Oliveira: "I’m convinced that I can do well in MotoGP"
2015 saw Oliveira join the Red Bull KTM Ajo setup, a season that saw him stage a stunning title race comeback in the Moto3™ Championship – four wins and two P2s in the final six races was nearly enough to overhaul eventual Champion Danny Kent. Three years in Moto2™ have followed and after teaming up with Kent in 2016 with Leopard Racing, 2017 saw him move back into the Red Bull KTM Ajo ranks. A P2 in Argentina sealed a maiden Moto2™ podium for the Austrian manufacturer in just their second race, with five wins and a further 14 podiums coming during two stellar seasons. Is a fantastic rookie year with Tech 3 and KTM on the horizon?
‘Mir’s meteoric rise’. It’s a phrase we’ve heard many times, and there’s good reason for that. An impressive Moto3™ stand-in ride at Phillip Island in 2015 was the start of an incredible three years for the Spaniard. Three podiums – including a win in Austria – during his full-time rookie Moto3™ campaign set Mir up for a sensational 2017: 10 wins, 13 podiums, 1 pole position – this proving his superior race craft - and 341 points was the stats behind his title-winning campaign. Fittingly, this was wrapped up in Australia, the venue he’d made his debut at two years prior.
Mir: "Suzuki offered me a good project and a good challenge"
Moto2™ and the EG 0,0 Marc VDS team came calling for 2018, but it wasn’t long before numerous premier class teams were linked with his signature for 2019. In the end, it would be Team Suzuki Ecstar who won the race for the 21-year-olds signing and after four podium finishes in his rookie intermediate class campaign, one of MotoGP™’s brightest prospects will aim to hit the ground running when he partners Alex Rins on the GSX-RR machine.
A return to the forefront has been the story of Quartararo’s 2018. His two wins – including the race he was later disqualified from in Japan – have been won in scintillating fashion on board his Speed Up bike, with his late surge to P2 at Assen his other standout ride this year. These performances were a reminder of the 15-year-old Frenchman that burst onto the World Championship scene.
Quartararo: "For rookies, the Yamaha is the best bike"
After winning two consecutive FIM CEV Repsol Championships in 2013 and 2014, Quartararo announced his arrival in Moto3™ with a P2 in just his second race, a feat he would repeat six races later at Assen. Pole positions in his fourth and fifth race starts at Jerez and Le Mans would further demonstrate that we had another serious talent on the grid. An ankle injury would halt his impressive rookie season, before a move to Moto2™ would come in 2017 after a further year in the premier class. In 2019 - after his aforementioned win at the Catalan GP and his P2 in the Netherlands turning heads – a seat on a SIC - Petronas backed Yamaha Independent Team machine is his, with the 19-year-old partnering Franco Morbidelli in a young and exciting setup.
Four rookies and four rising stars who make up an important part of a compelling 2019 premier class grid. The ‘Rookie of the Year’ Championship looks set to be a fierce battle between this quartet – who are you backing? Watch how each of them gets by subscribing to MotoGP™ VideoPass as they begin their 2019 Pre-Season testing on Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 30th of November.
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