Moto2, and to a greater extent Moto3, showcases the talent of the future. Elbow to elbow racing fueled by teenagers and young adults starving to achieve their dreams and prove that they too deserve the golden touch from a figure of Puig or Alzamora’s sway in the racing world. But these young dream chasers have already been fighting against the odds, or been under the guiding hand of a well-known manager, for years. The days of coming from the AMA or ASBK are, for the most part, gone. Riders are forced to come to Europe and race in one of a handful of domestic series.
The CEV is Spain’s domestic series and has emerged as the premier paddock in which to hone your skills. The aim for many riders is to eventually end up in the CEV series before heading off to the World Championship, a good stepping stone due to the high level of competition within the series, the number of shared tracks with World Championship (even more so now with the addition of Le Mans to the CEV) and direct team and sponsorship links to the MotoGP paddock.
A high number of Spanish teams and sponsors are involved in the CV, making the idea of you and your family packing up everything and flying to Spain easier to swallow. Calvo, Aspar, Pons and Estrella Galicia 0,0 all run junior teams within the Spanish domestic series, these teams often assuring a step up to Moto3, or even Moto2, upon winning the respective domestic championship. Alex Marquez and Alex Rins both moved up to the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team upon winning the domestic Moto3 crown. Jordi Torres was a Spanish Moto2 champion before graduating, although he moved with different teams. This offers an easy transition to GP and along with the high talent level, is a primary reason the CEV has become the main hunting ground for GP stars.
All of the top riders currently in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP have at some point raced in the CEV. The likes of Jonas Folger, Bradley Smith and Scott Redding were all part of the ‘MotoGP Academy,’ essentially a school run by Alberto Puig for riders to eat, sleep and train with the sole purpose of being the best rider they could. The MotoGP Academy has subsequently been replaced in many aspects by the Red Bull Rookies cup.
Red Bull Rookies
The Red Bull Rookies cup is yet to produce a MotoGP champion, but has provided the likes of Luis Salom, Johan Zarco, Karel Hanika and Arthur Sissis a chance to prove themselves with some of the financial challenges removed. However, the CEV has a far higher success rate of champions (last year all three World Champions had competed in the Spanish series).
Domestic series such as the Moto3/125cc class in British Superbikes and the CIV (Italian version of CEV) have a decent level of competition, but the best head to Spain. Riders such as Bradley Ray, Nicolo Bulega and Luca Marini have all left their domestic championships to go to Spain. In the Moto3 class only 11 of the 38 riders are Spanish, the rest are a mix of British, German, Malaysian, Italian, Australian, Japanese and Venezuelan riders.
An interesting domestic series is Germany’s IDM championship. It attracts an unusually high amount of Australian riders, Damian Cudlin, Jed Metcher and Karl Muggeridge are all Superbike and Supersport riders who have achieved high levels of success in Germany and on the world stage. The IDM is where Jack Miller, one of the hottest properties in Moto3, got his start. Even Maverick Viñales raced in selected IDM rounds in 2008. The attraction of IDM seems to be that it offers a decent first step within Europe, a high level of competition but without the near GP levels of equipment and cost of the CEV. However, the ultimate pre-GP goal still remains the CEV.
Riders were once able to make a relatively easy switch from the AMA, their dirt skills helping them pushing their 500cc bikes to the limit.
As time has gone on competition on a national level has dried up, as has the money. Spain and the CEV stand as one of the few gateways into the world Grands Prix, existing almost as a micro version. A fact surely helped by both series being owned by Dorna.