2011 125cc Season Preview: Young Chargers Ready for Series Swansong

4 Mins read

The final 125cc World Championship begins in Qatar this weekend, and with a number of exciting rookies joining some familiar faces.

From 2012, the two-stroke racers will be replaced with four-stroke 250cc bikes, and renamed Moto3.

2010 was another vintage year for the series with three Spaniards engaging in a season-long battle for supremacy, with Marc Marquez overcoming Nico Terol and Pol Espargaro at the final round in Valencia. Britain's Bradley Smith was their nearest challenger and rounded of his 125 career in style with victory in the season finale.

So the question on everybody's lips is who will be the last ever 125cc World Champion?

And with his three chief rivals from last year all making the step up to Moto2, Terol must start the campaign as hot favourite.

The Bankia Aspar rider stepped onto the podium 14 times in 16 starts last year and with his greatest competition out of the way, he has a golden opportunity to take his first World Title.

His greatest threat this year is likely to come from new teammate Hector Faubel. Three years after moving to 250s, Faubel is back to try and clinch the title that narrowly eluded him in 2007.

Final testing at Jerez showed signs of what is to come, with the Aspar boys finishing the session 1st and 2nd.

Their nearest challenger was Sandro Cortese, and the German may be the man to take the fight to them in 2011. Despite his tender years, the German has enormous experience at this level and after a positive pre-season, this may be his breakthrough year.

Other riders to look out for in the 31-man field include Efren Vazquez and Johann Zarco, who will be teammates for Ajo Motorsport. Both have shown steady improvement during their time in the Championship, with regular podiums the next step for both.

As ever there will be some exciting rookies who will be looking to make their mark. 16 year-old Maverick Viñales has been hugely impressive in winter testing, and the 2010 European 125cc Champion looks like a star of the future. His main rival last year was Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira has also turned heads with his pre-season pace. Both were in the top six when testing concluded at Jerez,

Britain will have a familiar name to cheer for. Taylor Mackenzie, son of former 500cc rider Niall, will embark on his first full season, as will former Red Bull Rookie Harry Stafford.

Danny Webb returns riding for Indian outfit Mahindra Racing, while Danny Kent completes the British quartet after showing signs of real potential last year.

As racing gets underway on Sunday night in Qatar, the sun will begin to set on the 125cc World Championship. Many great names have taken the title, one more will add their name to the list.

Ones to Watch

Nico Terol

18. Nico Terol (Bankia Aspar team)

Has stayed in 125s for one more year to go after the championship that has eluded him since his debut in 2004.  His speed and consistency will make him very difficult to stop in 2011.

55. Hector Faubel (Bankia Aspar Team)

Three years in the 250cc/Moto2 class yielded only one podium for the experienced Spaniard. A return to 125s should suit him better and he is best placed to take on Terol.

11. Sandro Cortese (Intact-Racing Team Germany)

The German has done everything but win at this level. After claiming pole positions and podiums in the last two years, Cortese will be chasing the top step of the podium this year.

7. Efren Vazquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)

Will be looking to build on an impressive 2010 which saw him finish best of the rest behind the four men who dominated the season. Another man who will have victory at the top of his targets for 2011.

33. Sergio Gadea (Pev-Blusens-SMX-Paris-Hilton)

A proven race winner in the 125cc series who found life tough in Moto2 with a podium at Mugello the only result of note. He should also fare better on his return to more familiar machinery.

Jonas Folger

94. Jonas Folger (Red Bull Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)

The German has been a solid midfield runner in this category, but testing indicates he may be able to join the leading group. Don't be surprised to see this name very high on the timesheets this year.

25. Maverick Vinales (Pev-Blusens-SMX-Paris-Hilton)

The 125cc World Championship is the logical step for the teenager who took the Spanish and European crowns last year. Testing has shown him to be genuinely quick and provide a major challenge to teammate Gadea.

5. Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)

After regularly finding himself in the top 10 in just his 2nd season in the World Championship, Zarco has made a solid start to his career. The Frenchman will be targeting podiums in 2011.

44. Miguel Oliveira (Andalucía Banca Civica)

The Portuguese ran fellow rookie Vinales close to the European Championship last year and the two have been evenly matched in testing for this season too. This is another name you'll be hearing a lot more in years to come.

23. Alberto Moncayo (Andalucía Banca Civica)

After finishing as one of the top rookies in 2010, Moncayo has joined his teammate in the top 10 of the testing timesheets. But despite a strong debut year, he will have to raise his level to keep his new teammate in sight.

The Brit Pack

Danny Webb

99. Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing)

His fourth season in the 125cc category proved his best to date as he finished 10th in the Championship. If the brand new Indian team can produce the goods, he will have another positive year.

52. Danny Kent (Red Bull Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)

The 17 year-old looks well prepared for his first full season in the World Championship. After finishing as runner-up in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Kent has certainly earned his chance, now he has to take it.

17. Taylor Mackenzie (Phonica Racing)

The newcomer follows in the footsteps of his father who raced for 12 years in World Championship competition. Another product of the Red Bull Rookies Cup.

21. Harry Stafford (Ongetta-Centro Seta)

He is the third Brit to advance from the Red Bull Rookies Cup, finishing 7th in 2010. A season of discovery lies ahead for the teenager.

Avatar photo
5101 posts

About author
MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and WorldSBK writer for The Checkered Flag. Contact: [email protected]
Related posts
125British Endurance ChampionshipBritish SuperbikeBTCCFormula 1Formula Renault BARCGB3General Formula 3IndyCarMotoGPWTCCX Games

The TCF Team Pick - Moment Of The Year

7 Mins read
The authors of The Checkered Flag pick their moment of the year, including a dead heat, a miraculous rebuild and the best overtaking move of F1 in 2011 – bar none.

Jerez Set For 2012 Grand Prix Of Spain

1 Mins read
Dorna and the city of Jerez have announced an agreement which will see the 2012 Grand Prix of Spain take place at the Circuito de Jerez.
125MotorcyclesSeason Review

125cc Season Review 2011: Terol At The Last

16 Mins read
The days and weeks preceding the opening race of a Grand Prix season are normally filled with excitement, expectation and unpredictability but ahead of the final 125cc World Championship before Moto3’s introduction, most two-wheel experts were in no doubt as to the destiny of the title