MotoGP Rookies Cup rider additions

Four invited from canceled AMA Rookies program

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 29, 2009
The 2009 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup grid will feature four teens from the recently canceled AMA Rookies program.

AMA U.S. Rookies Cup Champion Benny Solis and Hayden Gillim were previously invited to compete in the MotoGP Rookies Cup in November. After the cancelation of the AMA Rookies Cup, series organizers extended invitations to Jake Gagne and Joshua Hook.

“I think these young riders will do great,” says Kevin Schwantz, 1993 World Champion and riders coach of the AMA U.S. Rookies Cup. “Three of them have experience in Europe and learned a lot at the Riders Cup events last year. Both at Indy and Valencia, we experienced wet weather and our kids did well in difficult situations. They will find all aspects of MotoGP Rookies Cup a huge step towards trying to learn how to compete on a world level. It will be a huge challenge but also a great chance to show, on a world level, what kind of speed and motivation they really have.”

North Hollywood, Calif. teen Solis won four races on his way to claim the AMA U.S. Rookies Cup championship.

“I’m really excited about racing in Europe this year,” says Solis. “I feel exactly how I felt in late 2007 when I received a call from Kevin [Schwantz] saying that I was accepted into the Red Bull Rookies Cup. I know it’ll be hard, but racing is always fun, if I win or lose, and I’m more anxious than ever to go ride the GP tracks and I hope I do as well as I did last year.”

Jake Gagne (left) and Hayden Gillim will enter the 2009 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.Gillim won two races including a victory at Virginia International Raceway a week after undergoing collarbone surgery. A native of Owensboro, Ky., Gillim earned his invitation to race at the same MotoGP circuits as his more famous relative, Nicky Hayden.

“I can’t wait to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup,” says Gillim. “It should be a lot of fun and hopefully I can learn new riding skills and learn the tracks, so if I get to MotoGP, I’m prepared.”

Gagne also recorded two wins in 2008 and his third place finish at Valencia, Spain, was the AMA Rookies’ only podium finish in the two Rider Cup races against the MotoGP Rookies.

“I’m very excited to get the opportunity to race in the MotoGP Rookies Cup this year and I can’t thank Red Bull enough for this opportunity,” says Gagne, a resident of Ramona, Calif. “Getting to race on the best tracks in the world and in front of the best riders and teams is a dream come true and I can’t wait for the racing to start.”

Unlike the other three additions, Hook joins the MotoGP Rookies Cup following his performance at the AMA U.S. Rookies Cup selection camp in October. Hook, a 16-year-old from Taree, Australia, was invited to the MotoGP Rookies Cup on Schwantz’s recommendation.

“To learn that I was selected to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup was just unbelievable,” says Hook. “I am really grateful and honored that the selection committee believed in my potential to be successful and I can’t wait to get on the track at the first test in Estoril.”

The third Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup will be held over eight races at six MotoGP events starting with a double-header May 2-3 in Jerez, Spain.

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2009 AMA US Rookies Cup canceled