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In 2014, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was competing and winning in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup alongside the likes of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) – to name just a few names. Fast forward six years and the Spaniard is now a two-time World Champion, having claimed the 2020 MotoGP™ World Championship at the Motul Valencia Grand Prix.
And in doing so Mir is the first rider to have won the premier class crown having previously competed in the Red Bull Rookies. 2013 was his first season in the MotoGP™ feeder series, a year that saw Mir finish ninth in the overall standings after one podium finish and three other top five results. The youngster then stepped up his game for the 2014 campaign. Three victories in Jerez, Brno and Misano alongside two other podiums at Silverstone and the Sachsenring saw Mir finish second in the standings behind winner Martin.
A successful year in another Road to MotoGP™ programme followed in FIM CEV Repsol’s Moto3™ Junior World Championship, as Mir then entered the world stage for the first time in 2016. From not even competing on the Grand Prix stage to winning the MotoGP™ World Championship, in five years, is a staggering achievement from the now 23-year-old. Moto3™ World Champion at your second attempt and MotoGP™ World Champion at your second attempt also is outstanding from the rider who has less Grand Prix experience than anybody on the premier class grid.
In addition to his Rookies Cup statistic, Mir is now the first rider to win both the Moto3™ and MotoGP™ World Championships. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) are part of the current crop of premier class stars to have also won the Moto3™ title, they’ll be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Mir – as will the upcoming heroes of the future. Martin is the latest Moto3™ World Champion who will pitch his skills against the best riders on the best bikes in the world from 2021 onwards.
There is no doubt that the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup was a phenomenal proving ground for Mir and many others. And it continues to be. Only a few riders will earn the chance to lift motorcycle racing’s most coveted trophy, but Mir will surely be the first of a few who will have done so coming from the Rookies Cup. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Binder are the current MotoGP™ riders who have also come through the Rookies Cup programme, two of those are already race winners in the premier class.
Martin and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) are two more exciting names to add to that list next season, and there’s a host of names currently competing in Moto2™ that could step up in the coming years. Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up), Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing), his teammate Marcos Ramirez, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP). Next year, 2007 Rookies Cup competitor Cameron Beaubier joins the fray.
Mir is the leading light, but how many will follow his path in the coming years?