Hundreds of riders have been proclaimed Champions; hundreds had to start somewhere, someday, young and unexperienced. Agostini, Doohan, Rainey, and more recently Rossi and Marquez; all started at the bottom and gradually made their way to the top. With today’s competitions being so hard to crack, new riders may not always have opportunities to pierce the veil and show to the Motorcycling community their talent. These youngsters just need the opportunity and space to do just that – like Jonas Knudsen (FIM Speedway Youth 250cc) and Marc Garcia (FIM Supersport 300), both crowned as the first ever FIM World Champions in their respective categories. Every year, the FIM rewards youth and junior categories in order to ensure a regular renewal of the two-wheeler elite. This year the FIM Awards will honour 8 Champions and 2 teams, some of them born after the year 2000!
Being a Youth or Junior rider does not mean things are simpler on the motorbike, far from it. In what is described by some as the toughest Enduro Championship, FIM Youth Enduro World Champion Bradley Freeman had to fight until the last race to secure the title. Regardless of age, riders can achieve brilliant records, like Andrea Verona with his 9 consecutive wins or Facchetti and his astonishing comeback after his pelvis injury. Facchetti’s feat is all the more surprising when you realise he is only 17! Other riders are even younger, like Dennis Foggia or Jonas Knudsen, both 16 years old, but this year’s youngest FIM Awardee is Eddie Jay Wade (FIM 85cc Junior Motocross), aged only 15 – talk about youth!
As if being born in the years 2000 and competing like a pro wasn’t pressure enough, some riders have a big legacy to live up to. Knudsen became FIM Speedway Youth 250cc Champion nearly 32 years after his coach Erik Gundersen was proclaimed FIM Speedway World Champion (the 1st of 3 World Titles). No doubt, when the master teaches the pupil, expectations are in order when it comes to winning the title. Foggia also has a special entourage; being the protégé of no other than 9 times FIM World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Junior Team VR46 Academy rider has some big shoes to fill, but his appetite for victory is not anywhere close to stopping short of his goal. As for Maksym Drabik, maybe talent is a family gene after all. Son of former Polish Champion Slawomir Drabik, he has talent running in his veins, like father like son.
Andrea Verona – FIM Youth Enduro (ITA)
Bradley Freeman – FIM Junior Enduro (GBR)
Jonas Knudsen – FIM Speedway Youth 250cc (DEN)
Maksym Drabik – FIM Speedway Under 21 (POL)
Eddie Jay Wade – FIM 85cc Junior Motocross (GBR)
Gianluca Facchetti – FIM 125cc Junior Motocross (ITA)
Marc Garcia – FIM Supersport 300 (ESP)
Dennis Foggia – FIM Moto3 Junior (ITA)