Interview: Aspar's Gino Borsoi On Creating A Pathway To MotoGP For Young Talent

The world of motorcycle racing is undergoing a major change behind the scenes. Increasingly, teams are working on creating a path for bringing on young and talented riders. Where once individual teams would merely scour the classes below the one they competed in for talent, and engage in bidding wars for the most promising riders, now, they take a very different tack. Talent scouting starts at the very lowest level, and a path created all the way from Pre-Moto3 to MotoGP.

One of the first examples of teams creating such a pathway came about when Marc VDS teamed up with Monlau for the 2015 season. Monlau had an existing racing structure in Spain, reaching down to regional championships, as well as a technical academy for budding race engineers. Marc VDS had a successful Moto2 team which could take over from the Monlau operation, and a newly created MotoGP operation. Suddenly, the team had a complete package they could offer riders, with sponsorship and consistent support starting in Pre-Moto3 and carrying on through the FIM CEV, Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP. All with the backing of Spanish beer giant Estrella Galicia.

Other teams have now followed suit. The Leopard team has riders in the FIM CEV and Pre-Moto3. Ajo has a junior team in the FIM CEV, and the Finnish team manager's close links to KTM mean that he now can also offer a path from the Junior World Championship to MotoGP, all with the backing of Red Bull and the Austrian factory.

At Austin, we spoke to Gino Borsoi, sporting manager for the Aspar team. Aspar are engaged in a similar activity, having started a team in Pre-Moto3 and the RFME Spanish championship, as well as the FIM CEV. In the Grand Prix paddock, Aspar have teams in Moto3 and MotoGP, though they are currently missing a Moto2 team. They would like to see that change at some point in the future, so they can take riders all the way to MotoGP. Borsoi explained the team's thinking to us.

"For us, a Moto2 team is something that we have in our plan for the future, because we have a school with 85cc Pre-Moto3 and Spanish championship Moto3. Then we are also two riders in the CEV FIM championship. We have Moto3, so we need Moto2 and MotoGP, then we have all the classes from zero," Borsoi said. "We have one rider at the moment, a really good rider who is nine years old. We won today [23rd April – DE] in Spain the 85cc category. In Pre-Moto3, we were fighting until the last lap for win the race, but he crashed. But anyway, we have a really good plan there. We have also Nico Terol there. He helps us to grow up all the young riders and to be ready for the world championship."

Borsoi also explained the benefits the team sees in having a full set of teams through multiple classes and series. "I think it’s a great program first," he said. "It’s good for us of course, but it’s good also for our sponsors to have a school with young riders. They have a chance to help them to grow up and in the future maybe become world champion. It’s a great project for everybody. Necessary, well, you have time to help educate and train them with your idea to tell them how to ride, how to be professional and become a good rider in the racing world. So if you start from zero, it’s a bit more easy. It’s easy for them to understand what you want."

Borsoi contrasted the task of bringing on a young rider to taking a rider from an existing team in the paddock, without any input to their education and training as a rider. "If you take a rider from the paddock, this is what you have. Sometimes it’s difficult to learn them how to manage some situation." By contrast, if a young rider has already come up through the ranks with the same team, things are much easier.

This is very much a development of recent years, Borsoi acknowledged, and part of modern racing. "A lot of these schools were born maybe three or four years ago. It’s something that at the end we really need." It is also part of the professionalization of motorcycle racing. "Racing is becoming more professional. By the time the rider arrives in the world championship, let’s say they are really, really good. They are ready to fight, because the mentality is quite different compared here."

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It really is an interesting idea. Obviously starting someone young into the sport can give them a big boost going forward. You can train and groom a kid to be ready for all the challenges in the sport, get them tons of experience under their belt early, even paring them with a more experienced rider. Then you move them into your moto3 team, moto2, and hopefully MotoGP team. I liked to look at things from a different direction as well, like all the challenges and risks this presents. For instance, while a kid is growing up, especially through the teenage years, they can easily get off track.  Maybe they decide they care more about texting their friends than training for the championship. There's obviously an inherint risk in putting so much effort into someone for many years, only to have them fizzle out 3/4 of the way there, and now it's time to start over with someone else.  Compare this to the risks and benefits of simply selecting a rider who you believe have what it takes to compete at the next level and hope they work out, ala Folger & Zarco. We knew they were strong in Moto2, but no one knew what they'd go in their first year.  Anyway, interesting to look at the different strategies people use to find their up and coming stars :)

It is an interesting observation, David, and thank you for the insightful interview.  But, I hesitate to fully endorse commercialization at the 85cc < what, 10 year old level?>

Also, think of folk like Troy Bayliss, who would have been scotched out if this were the norm.

career pathways in place, MarcVDS ended up poaching their replacement for Morbidelli in Moto2 from Leopard.

Can't blame MarcVDS for buying who appears to be the best of the Moto3 field, or Mir for taking the best offer (no idea about money, but MarcVDS is more likely to offer Mir a bike winning a championship in Moto2 than Leopard).

MacaveliMC I think the numbers will reduce at the different levels. Some good Moto3 riders will not make the grade in Moto2.

As we have seen some Moto2 champions do not make the grade in MotoGp. Zarco obviously does! sort through a hundred club champions (like me) and you might not find one Valentino Rossi or Mick Doohan or Giacomo Agostino.

Of corse if a team does discover one Casey Stoner or Marco Simoncelli or one V.R.46 then all the investment in the developement program pays off Big Time! Hopefully the young talent will be loyal to the team that has given the opportunity. Staying with what one is accustomed to is often perceived as easier than changing, safer than taking a risk on an unknown team.

Gino & David said it all "This is very much a development of recent years, & part of modern racing. "A lot of these schools were born maybe three or four years ago.  It is also part of the professionalization of motorcycle racing. "Racing is becoming more professional" I cut a bit but you read it before. Change is what it is, get used to it if you can.

How are any non european riders going to progress without relocating to Europe at a young age?

On one hand it's great that some teams are able to reach down to CEV, CIV, RFME, Asia Talent Cup etc to provide that latter for the riders who show the early promise, but I guess there are risks too. 

On the plus side if you're uber-talented having a strong professional team around you will surely help training, fitness, education for if it doesn't work out (don't forget, even if you're the most talented rider and fully dedicated, for whatever reason it just might not happen), but by those pathways through the ranks existing it's arguably [a bit] harder to get a foot in if you're not with them early on (if you're 14 and in pre-Moto3 running with a family team, it's going to be hard to take on Monlau or Avintia). With different teams at each level in the past there was probably a bit more shuffling of riders around, but then again I'd be a fool to suggest that you need some money to get on either way as well as results, and plenty of riders with the big teams in CEV or such like don't make it up the ranks - much like the Red Bull academy in car racing a few years ago which always seemed pretty brutal (because if you weren't performing with the Red Bull money, you had even less chance without it).

On the plus side again, it's probably a reflection of the level of TV coverage given to some of the national series (I watch both CEV and CIV on TV in the UK, and could watch Asia Talent Cup if I had time) that it's worth the bigger teams investing in them all the way down (indeed in Repsol's case, pretty much funding the CEV championship it seems?).

Pluses and minuses, definitely.

The Monlau - Marc VDS link is a good sort of thing. We carry more talent through to where they should be. That , of all pipelines, this one goes again to Honda, and a 3rd/4th team? Ugh.

KTM is going to field a competitive bike and squad in Moto2 and Moto3. They are coming out atop the Moto4 Cup platform over Kawasaki and Yamaha right now. And have a MotoGP program in earnest.

Contrast Yamaha and Suzuki. And Kawasaki when they were here. Superbike pipeline grab bag. This model is hit - miss and declining.

HRC has done it best in the past. Now Dorna has done something good by fostering increasingly global talent programs in growing regions.

Money and a long standing primary big sponsor is an issue. Honda has had it. Yamaha has not. Ducati is hooked on Tobacco and it can't go to the kids, it goes to hospitality and promo events. Then thrown at a hopeful single Alien.

Suzuki has meager sponsorship. And no program/pipeline for young riders. How perfect it could be for them to merge a Marc VDS into them as The Official Satellite Team?! Or LCR with their sponsorship offerings?

Energy drink money is a recent twist. Red Bull has linked to KTM. And Monster somewhat to Yamaha but not the same degree right? More to individual riders. The Red Bull Rookies Cup is an interesting venture. We are in a time of change of the models here. Yes Aspar should do a Moto2 team pipeline. But shouldn't they also link with a factory better than as a tertiary team? Shouldn't that be Aprilia? Or can they displace Pramac with Ducati via offering a pipeline program?

Vinales still got snatched up by the team with the best bike. Stoner jumped from a Honda lineage. Zarco and Yamaha lucked into one another.

Perhaps the pipeline programs are better seen as a big picture boon for the whole sport entirely. All the boats rise when the water does. Again, thankful it isn't just Honda. Glad for our robustly functioning Dorna relative to a decade ago.

Would love to discuss this with somebody more knowlegable than I for our Motorsport Prospects website as we are looking to add bikes to the mix, specifically youth riding programs and development academies.