Thus far, the 2021 Moto3 world championship has been all about Pedro Acosta, the 16-year old rookie who is simply astounding the world. The Spaniard has scored three podiums in his first three races, including two wins, one of which he achieved from pitlane (Doha).
An endless hotbed
The 2020 Rookies Cup champion is the latest in a long line of riders coming from Spanish soil, a veritable breeding ground for talents who perform across all world championship categories. While Acosta is the latest tip of the Spanish iceberg, we should not forget Jaume Masia, winner of the inaugural race in Qatar and second in the standings with 39 points.
Within this latest group of young Spanish phenomena, we also include Xavi Artigas and Izan Guevara, who come from CEV Moto3 and have immediately been able to do well on the world stage, despite what their current positions might demonstrate, the result of rookie mistakes that we can put down to a lack of experience.
But how are the Italians responding to this Iberian offensive? By trusting in the ‘old guard', or rather those veteran Moto3 riders who are still seeking that definitive step up in quality.
We’re talking, first and foremost, about Dennis Foggia. Born in 2001, he is now in his fifth Moto3 season. Once again competing for Leopard Racing this season, he finished second in Portugal at the end of a convincing race, the result going some way to invert the negative trend seen at Losail.
Similarly, Andrea Migno, now in his ninth season in the cadet class. He too did well in Portimao, scoring pole and third-place finish. His move to the Honda of Team Snipers might finally represent a turning point in a career that has seen few highs but significant disappointment.
Another rider who’s stood out in the early part of this season is Niccolò Antonelli. Born in 1996, he did well at Losail, finishing third in the Doha GP. Although he appears to have the race pace, his Achille’s heel is qualifying. Starting so far back in Portugal, in 17th position, put the rider at a clear disadvantage and is something he needs to address over the next events.
We finish with Romano Fenati, who’s been in the world championship since 2012. Now riding for Team Max Racing, the Italian hasn’t done better than seventh in the first three races, too little for a rider who should be fighting for the title.
But will these results be enough to take on Acosta & Co? Perhaps not, unless the four Italian representatives can find the consistency they need to fight these fresh Spanish faces. Because Moto3 is no sport for old men, and the first part of 2021 is only confirming this.
Translated by Heather Watson