It is the 17th season of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and 17 different flags adorn the front wheel fairings of the KTM RC 250R’s as a slew of teenagers, including a Kiwi, chase their dreams in the opening round of 2023 in Portimão.
Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan is among those who have dreams of being added to the list of top performers at Portimão, in Portugal, this weekend (March 25-26).
The 16-year-old from Southland has yet to mount a Rookies podium but he was right on the pace at the test, having just flown from the other side of the world where he clinched the 300cc and 600cc New Zealand titles just three days earlier.
“I am happy with the feeling on my swish new KTM Factory Racing RC250 and we have found a setup which works for us,” said Buchanan, pictured here.
“In the race simulation I am really satisfied with my pace and had the fourth fastest time. I focus on being very consistent and can stay with the fastest riders, feel comfortable overtaking and confident going into next weekend’s first round of racing!”
There have been 10 World Championships and 161 Grand Prix wins achieved by ex-Red Bull Rookies in recent years.
Two days of testing at the same circuit was great preparation and with record-breaking lap times being set not only by the experienced riders in their 2nd and 3rd season but also by those in their 1st, the stage is set for another incredible season.
The most winners in one year were in 2011 and there have never been fewer than 4. If the closeness of the test is anything to go by it seems highly unlikely that Pedro Acosta’s record of 6 wins in a row to start the season will be broken.
But then he went on to win the Moto3 World Championship the following season taking 2nd in his first Grand Prix and winning the next 3.
It is Karel Hanika who has the most Rookies career wins though, 10 from 2 seasons, 2012 and 2013. Acosta has 9, also from 2 years, as do Bo Bendsneyder and Can Öncü.
It’s not all about numbers and more great rivalries between fascinating characters are bound to develop.
Watch out for 15-year-old Màximo Quiles and fellow Spaniard 16-year-old Angel Piqueras, who finished 3rd and 4th in last year’s Cup. With the riders in front of them, José Rueda and Collin Veijer now contesting the Moto3 World Championship, they are title favourites in their 2nd Cup seasons.
They already have three and two Cup wins to their names respectively and finished 1st and 2nd in the final race of 2022.
Rico Salmela, the 15-year-old Finn, will mix it with them and he is looking for his second Cup win and more. Casey O’Gorman is a 15-year-old Irish rider still looking for his first Cup victory, but he was second in race one in Portimão last season, his Rookies Cup debut.
Some of the new boys are likely to shake things up from race one include the 15-year-olds, Italians Guido Pini and Edoardo ‘Doddo’ Boggio, Malaysian Hakim Danish and Spaniards Álvaro Carpe and Alberto Ferrández.
Photo courtesy Red Bull
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