2008 Red Bull Rider Cup preview

AMA Rookies face MotoGP Rookies at IMS

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Sep. 11, 2008
The top young racers in the world will display their talent in the Riders Cup Sept. 14 at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The team competition pits the top ten riders from the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup series against their counterparts in the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup. Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the first half of the Riders Cup while the second half will take place Oct. 25 in Valencia, Spain. The team with the most total points in the two races will win the Riders Cup.

The U.S. Rookies team may hold home-circuit advantage for the Indy race, but the MotoGP Rookies have the edge in experience.

Jacob Gagne (left) and Hayden Gillim will be part of the AMA Rookies team in the Riders Cup.“I’ve seen them ride and they are very aggressive and very fast,” says 14-year-old Californian Benny Solis, Jr. who tops the U.S. Rookie standings. “But we’re all kids and have the same bikes for this race. I know they are used to faster tracks and Indy really isn’t one of those. I'll talk to my friends and help them out any way I can to be aggressive and fast, too.”

Kentucky native Hayden Gillim says he is looking forward to facing the MotoGP Rookies.

“It should be really fun. The top ten of our series coming together with the top ten from the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup should make for an exciting race,” says Gillim. “From watching videos of their races, we know they will be fast and that they are aggressive and have a lot of skills. The Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies will have to go as hard as they can and yet be smart and consistent. We need to get as many of our guys as we can in the top ten.

“Besides the racing, it will be fun to meet the other Rookies. Maybe I’ll learn how to say some phrases in other languages this weekend,” says Gillim.

The MotoGP Rookies team will be led by the 2008 Champion, American JD Beach (front row, center).While the MotoGP Rookies present a more internationally diverse team, they will be led by 16-year-old American JD Beach. The 2008 MotoGP Rookies Cup champion hasn’t raced at IMS, but he says his team will be ready for the circuit.

“It is a Grand Prix style track that was first built for Formula One and that is what we are used to racing on in Europe even if now it is being run backwards and a bit modified,” says Beach. “I don’t think it has any real surprises for our team and I think we’ll have the usual guys running up front, (Luis) Salom, (Matthew) Hoyle, Sturla (Fagerhaug) and I think we’ll be mixing it with the best of them, Hayden (Gillim) and Benny (Solis).”

Beach won the MotoGP Rookies Cup by just four points over Salom. The two riders had an exciting rivalry through the season, with Beach finishing runner-up to Salom in four of the first five races. At IMS, their rivalry will be set aside for a team effort.

“Of course we all want to win the race ourselves but more than that we understand it is about the team and taking home the trophy. We are going to work together and I know from the hard races we have had this year we have great riders in our team,” says Salom. “We know that coming here and racing against those guys at home will not be easy, we don't know much about them but by the time we get to Sunday we will. I think we can do it.”

Rider Cup rosters
AMA U.S. Rookies MotoGP Rookies
Benny Solis U.S.A. JD Beach U.S.A.
Hayden Gillim USA Luis Salom Spain
Leandro Mercado Argentina Sturla Fagerhaug Norway
Jacob Gagne U.S.A. Dajiro Hiura Japan
Tomas Puerta Colombia Nelson Major France
Joey Pascarella U.S.A. Mathew Scholtz South Africa
Austin DeHaven U.S.A. Matthew Hoyle Great Britain
Emerson Connor Canada Daniel Huiz Spain
Bryce Prince U.S.A. Jakub Kornfeil Czech Republic
Huntley Nash U.S.A. Florian Marino France