Monday, June 23, 2008

125GP: Scott Redding Stuns at Donington

At 15 years old, Scott Redding should be reading history books, not rewriting them. When I talked about his hugely impressive debut in Qatar this year, I said to keep an eye on him, but I couldn't possibly imagine that he would force his way to the top so quickly. In the 125cc motorcycle Grand Prix at Donington, aged 15 years 170 days, Scott became the youngest rider ever to win a GP in the 59 year history of the sport.

This was Redding's 8th GP start. To put that into perspective, Valentino Rossi didn't win until his 11th Grand Prix, and he was 17 years old at the time. A whole slew of statistics have been trashed, most of them being how many decades it has been since a British rider won anything, especially in 125GP.

Although this was Redding's home Grand Prix, he couldn't claim to know the track well. His only previous experience of Donington was 3 laps in the rain on a little 80cc bike, and that wasn't even on the full GP configuration of the circuit. Just to spice things up further, a howling gale was blowing, which can't be easy to deal with on a lightweight 125cc machine.

The really astounding thing was not that he won, but how he won. There have been dozens of shock results over the years when a group were slipstreaming towards the finish line and an unexpected rider shot past everyone and took the chequered flag. There have been shock results when changeable weather conditions caused all of the top riders to crash, with the victory taken by the last man standing. And there have been shock results where all of the main contenders were taken out in a huge pile-up.

Redding's win did not fall into any of those categories.

Early on, Andrea Iannone was leading by a second from Redding, with the following pack dropping further and further behind. It looked like the young Italian was comfortable in the lead, but Redding's Blusens Aprilia started to reel him in. All of a sudden, the pair were together. The young Englishman seemed to be easily holding onto his Italian rival, pulling out of his slipstream to let Iannone know he was there. It gave all the appearance of somebody like Valentino Rossi toying with his prey, not a 15 year old kid in his 8th Grand Prix.

After a few laps of pressure, Iannone finally folded. That is to say, he folded the front wheel in Craner Curves and fell off. He failed to put up with the pressure from the rider behind, and simply pushed slightly harder than adhesion would permit.

Now Redding was in the lead with an enormous 6 second gap to the following pack. Could such an inexperienced youngster take the pressure of riding the final 5 or 6 laps without falling off or slowing down too much? Hell, yeah! He just kept banging in the lap times, and took the chequered flag an incredible 5 seconds ahead of the 2nd placed man.

It was a breathtaking display of skill and maturity. Scott Redding isn't a prospect for the future, he's already a star. Now all we can do is stand by and watch how he progresses when he has some proper experience.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

Scott was fantastic at Donny, a really mature race from someone so young and definately a star in the making.