#JuniorGP Round 2, Valencia: Weekend Preview
It was an electric start to the 2023 Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ World Championship at Estoril in Portugal, and the action continues as the stars of the show head to Spain for round two. The Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Cheste, Valencia has always sprinkled magic through the paddock and this year promises to be no different. With two JuniorGP™ races, one Moto2™ European Championship race, two European Talent Cup races and one Stock European Championship race, fierce battles are bookmarked once again.
In the JuniorGP™ class, a slipstream battle to the line saw Nico Carraro (Aspar Junior Team) pick up a career-first win, the 49th in the class since 2012, when Moto3™ machinery was introduced. As there was only one race at Estoril, the 20-year-old Italian leads the charge to Valencia, where he’s never previously scored points. He pipped Angel Piqueras (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) to honours at Estoril but Piqueras has been touted as one of the riders to watch throughout 2023 and for good reason. A rookie last year with three podiums, the first of which came as a second in Valencia’s Race 1, a first win does elude him but after being denied again last time out, he’ll be hungry to stand on the top step. One rider who impressed at Estoril was Alvaro Carpe (STV Laglisse Racing), who crossed the line third but was later disqualified from what would’ve been his first podium in JuniorGP™. With two victories in ETC at Valencia, Carpe aims to become the 50th different winner in the class since 2012 and the 100th since the first year of the Championship, back in 1998.
Jakob Rosenthaler (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP Junior Team) inherited his and Austria’s first ever podium in JuniorGP™ and hopes to continue that form at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, where the 16-year-old Austrian scored a point last year. A first pole of the year went to Italian star Luca Lunetta (AC Racing Team) at Estoril, and after taking fourth, he once again wants a first podium. He was a stand-out performer in the second half of 2022, finishing his season in Valencia with a fifth and sixth. With four fifth places from five races, Lunetta’s sights are firmly on a rostrum this weekend. In fifth place, Jacob Roulstone (Aspar Junior Team) hopes that he can build on a solid start, with the Australian returning to Valencia, where an 11th place in the final race of 2022 proved to be his best result of the season. Xabi Zurutuza (MTA Junior Team) is sixth and will be one to watch in Valencia.
Looking to the Moto2™ ECh and it was a dominant start to 2023 for Senna Agius (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP Junior Team), as he eased to two wins. Heading to Valencia, he crashed out of the lead as he came to prominence within the Championship in 2022. He’ll be hoping to make it three from three at the start of 2023. Second overall ahead of Valencia, Niccolo Antonelli (Team MMR), who started with an eight place in Race 1 before taking third in Race 2 at Estoril. Antonelli is a veteran in the World Championship paddock and has experience in abundance at Valencia. A pole position in Moto3™ back in 2014 is coupled with two top ten finishes, whilst he also has a pole in JuniorGP™ in 2012 and two front rows in the two years previous, in the standings, Mattia Rato (AGR Team) was consistent at Estoril with fifth and fourth, with the 18-year-old aiming for a first podium of the 2023 season. After their clash and crash at Estoril in the podium fight, Carlos Tatay (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and Harrison Voight (Yamaha Philippines Stylobike Racing Team) aim to make amends.
The ETC saw familiar faces fend off the new stars, as Brian Uriate took a double victory in fine style, to lead the standings on his way to Valencia, where he was second last year. He hopes to continue his form from Portugal, but 2021 ETC title winner Max Quiles (Aspar Junior Team) will hope to have something to say about that. Valencia was the scene of his first win of 2022, although it was the only race he failed to finish in during his 2021 season, so it is a case of mixed memories. Third in the standings and so close to a first race win in Race 1 of the season at Estoril, Rico Salmela (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), with the Finnish rider taking a third podium of his career. At Valencia last year, he achieved a best result of third in Race 1, whilst he’s enjoyed a front row start in second back in 2021. Defending title holder Guido Pini (AC Racing Team) was second in the final race of 2022 in Valencia, where he clinched the title. After a tricky start to 2023, he’ll hope to be back on form for round two.
In the Stock™ ECh, their second round will be all about trying to tame Daniel Muñoz, as the Spaniard stormed to victory at Estoril and he’ll be keen to do the same again at his first home round. Marco Garcia (Easyrace Team) was second at Estoril, ahead of Alex Millan (Fifty Motorsport) and both will try and stop Muñoz in the final race of the day.
The Sunday race schedule for the second round of the Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ is as follows:
11:00 – JuniorGP™ Race 1: 17 laps
12:00 – ETC Race 1: 16 laps
13:00 – Moto2™ ECh: 18 laps
14:00 – JuniorGP™ Race 2: 17 laps
15:00 – ETC Race 2: 16 laps
16:00 – Stock ECh: 18 laps