New names rise as sun sets on 2023 JuniorGP season in Valencia
Frantic. Frenetic. History-making. The Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ World Championship season has come to a close as another year of records, drama, excitement and passion concludes. The sun set in style at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, with a new winner in the JuniorGP™ class in Adrian Cruces (Finetwork Mir Racing Team) who won Race 1, whilst Race 2 honours saw Joel Esteban (Aspar Junior Team) triumph after late drama. The Moto2™ European Championship saw Senna Agius (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact Junior GP Team) sign off in style with victory from P17 on the grid, whilst European Talent Cup honours went to Guido Pini (AC Racing Team), although it was Maximo Quiles (Aspar Junior Team) who clinched the crown. Stock European Championship competition ended the day with David Muñoz (SP57 Racing Team) taking a fifth win of 2023.
JuniorGP™ action fired up in Race 1 to start the day and it was a battle from the start. Adrian Cruces led for the majority of the race but was always under attack from Luca Lunetta (AC Racing Team), Alvaro Carpe (STV Laglisse Racing) and Angel Piqueras (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), with Carpe and Piqueras coming through from the third row. However, resisting a final corner attack from the #83 of Carpe, Cruces held on to take a career-first win in the class, whilst Piqueras snatched third. A mistake from Lunetta on the final lap left him P5, behind polesitter Xabi Zurutuza (MTA Junior Team).
Race 2 was an epic fight and whilst Cruces tried to implement a fast pace like in Race 1, it couldn’t be replicated to the same level as the battle intensified. Jacob Roulstone (Aspar Junior Team) was his main rival this time, although the Australian was soon bundled out the way by the likes of Lunetta, Piqueras and Carpe – Carpe and Lunetta both in the battle for second overall in the standings. Joel Esteban was also in contention in the final stages and despite being close, he couldn’t make a pass in the last sector on the last lap. Cruces crossed the line first ahead of Esteban and Lunetta, but the #11 was forced to drop one place for exceeding track limits on the last lap, giving the #7 of Esteban a second win of 2023. Lunetta’s third place meant he secured runner-up spot in the Championship, which was one by Piqueras at Aragon.
The title had already been secured by Senna Agius at Aragon but he faced a different challenge in the final Moto2™ ECh race of 2023. A penalty after qualifying meant that his original pole position had turned into a P17 grid start. Inside the top ten by the end of the opening lap, Agius powered himself into contention whilst Alberto Surra (Team Ciatti-Boscoscuro grabbed the early advantage. Agius was soon ahead of his rivals, with Roberto Garcia (Cardoso-Fantic Racing), Unai Orradre (STV Laglisse Racing) and Yeray Ruiz (FAU55 Tey Racing) all being dismissed by the charging #81. The Australian then made short work of closing down a 2.6s gap up to Surra but despite catching the Italian, it took three attempts at Turn 4 to make the move stick. However, once he made it work, Agius eased to a tenth career win and an eighth of 2023, becoming just the third rider to win ten races in the class. Surra was a strong second whilst Orradre clinched third. Agius finished 67 points clear of Xavier Cardelus (Promoracing) in the end with Surra third.
The only title on the line coming into the final round of 2023 was that of the ETC, with Maximo Quiles vs Brian Uriarte (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) being the rivalry. The race ignited with the #28 Quiles going all out from the start before a group of seven was formed, with Uriarte and teammate Rico Salmela part of it. Jesus Rios (MRE Talent) was a polesitter for the first time and swapped paint with Quiles before big drama occurred behind. At Turn 2 towards mid-race, Salmela tried to pass Uriarte but in doing so, ran wide; as he cut back, Uriarte was already under him and the two collided and crashed, ending the #51’s title hopes in a teammate clash. Quiles was now Champion whatever happened but he still fought hard against Pini, Valentin Perrone (Frando VHC Racing Team) and Rios. On the final lap, Pini rode to perfection for a last win with the #1 plate. Perrone took a first podium – also a first for Argentina in the class – whilst Rios was third with a third straight podium. Quiles in P4 became the first double ETC Champion; Pini finished second overall, leapfrogging Uriarte.
The last Stock ECh event of the year was an intriguing one; Daniel Muñoz was already crowned Champion but wanted to finish strongly, with Eric Fernandez (FAU55 Tey Racing) likewise aiming to sign off his 2023 season as number one in race terms. Both battled throughout the 18 laps, with Fernandez even slowing the pace right down, as both engaged in a game of strategy. After a lap of cruising around with a 13-second advantage, Muñoz pulled the pin and eased away to win by eight seconds ahead of his main title rival. Third place had seemingly gone to Archie McDonald (MRE Talent) but for exceeding track limits throughout the race, he was handed a three second penalty which left him in P7, denying him a first podium. Taking profit, Marco Garcia (Easyrace Team) was third, with the top three in the race being reflected in the same order in the final standings of 2023.
2023 may be over but the Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ World Championship promises to make more history in 2024! The season kicks off at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” in Italy with racing action commencing on April 21st.