2008 Movers & Shakers in 125cc
Britain’s Bradley Smith has a new home at Polaris World and a full 2008 factory-spec Aprilia at his disposal.
Mattia Pasini’s move up to 250s and Joan Olive’s departure leaves Smith with the entire team at his beck and call and in a great position to become Britain’s first 125 race winner since 1973.
He’ll have a job on his hands to beat the three-strong Aspar team though, who retain world champion Gabor Talmacsi and race-winner Sergio Gadea.
With this season’s championship runner-up Hector Faubel graduating to 250s though, Pere Tutusaus, a front-runner in the Spanish championship, comes in for his first full season of GP racing.
15-year-old Briton Scott Redding, who won races in this year’s Spanish Championship, remains with Blusens as he graduates to the world championship, and will be paired with Efren Vazquez , who moves down from 250s to form an all-new line-up.
Stefan Bradl, who raced for the team this year, remains on an Aprilia, but with the Kiefer squad who have dropped down a class from 250s to run him, rookie Robin Lasser and Romainan Robert Muresan, who spent this season on an Ajo Derbi.
Danny Webb, the third Brit in the class, stays with Arie Molenaar Racing, but will have a new machine as the Dutch squad switch from Honda to Aprilia.
His team-mates in an expanded three-rider line-up will be American Steve Bonsey and Dutchman Hugo van den Berg, who raced for KTM and Blusens Aprilia this year.
Simone Corsi is sticking with Fontana Racing – the team that guided him to victory in Turkey this year – and has former Derbi rider Nico Terol alongside him.
Stefano Bianco stays with WTR, but his 2007 team-mate Andrea Iannone ships out to the I.C team who spent this season under the Multimedia banner.
Iannone will have Austrian Michael Ranseder, following his defection from Ajo Derbi, and Takaaki Nakagami – who became the youngest Japanese rider in championship history when he made his debut in Valencia – alongside him.
The clear-out for Matteoni Racing leaves a space for Roberto Lacalendola to slot in, while Sandro Cortese – a man many people tip for race wins in 2008 – is staying with the single-bike Caffe Latte team.
Only Randy Krummenacher retains a full factory-run machine, while Japan’s Tomoyoshi Koyama, third in this year’s championship, retains the backing of the Austrian concern but his shipped out to the Seedorf team, who ran Derbi’s works squad this year.
Koyama will be paired with Italian Lorenzo Zanetti, who moves over from Matteoni Aprilia.
Alberto Puig’s Repsol team have switched allegiances from Honda to KTM and have retained Spaniard Esteve Rabat and will pair him with newcomer Marq Marquez.
The Scot team have followed suit and will have class veteran Pablo Nieto and Raffaele de Rosa – both Aprilia riders this season – on their bikes.
With Seedorf Motorsport having switched to KTM, the works team is taken over by Jorge Lorenzo’s manager Dani Amatriain. Pol Espargaro – a title favourite for many and another Amatriain protégé – and Joan Olive make an all-Spanish line-up.
Ajo meanwhile, also have two new riders with Frenchman Mike di Meglio moving from Scot Honda and Dominique Aegerter coming in from IC Aprilia.
With the Japanese marque confirming they will not build two-strokes after 2009, just one team – the French FFM operation – will run their machinery. Rookie Louis Rossi rides a single bike.
While things are slowing down for the Japanese manufacturers, they are certainly speeding up for the Chinese ones, who will have a team entered at world championship level for the first time.
Loncin, whose operation will be based in France, have resisted the temptation to sign Chinese riders and instead put ex-FFM man Alexis Masbou and Jules Cluzel, a returnee from 250s, on their bikes.
(*Originally published by Eurosport – 17-12-07)