After finishing seventh in the Red Bull Rookies Cup in Germany on a 125cc KTM, Bradl moved up to the German 125cc class in 2004 where he finished fifth for the KTM Junior team, then winning the German championship the following year, earning himself a wildcard World Championship debut at Barcelona. In 2006 he continued with the KTM Junior team for a full-time World Championship 125cc campaign, but it didn’t go well. He didn’t score a point until the 11th round of the championship. A race later, his season was over: he was rammed from behind while practicing a start after warm-up for the Malaysian Grand Prix, breaking his tibia and fibula.
The Blusens team offered him an Aprilia RSW125 for the 2007 Spanish championship, which he promptly used to win the title — Marquez was ninth — resulting in Blusens putting him back on the World Championship trail, first with wild cards, then permanently in Estoril.
Winning four out of the first...
Winning four out of the first six Moto2 races in 2011 allowed Stefan Bradl to build up a huge 62-point lead, the largest lead after six races by any rider in the history of the World Championships.
Bradl’s speed early in the...
Bradl’s speed early in the season was such that he was able to easily beat Marquez (left) and Pons HP 40’s Aleix Espargaro (right) at their home circuit in Catalunya.
The battle for the win was...
The battle for the win was fierce at Mugello, but the win went to Marquez (93) after the young Spaniard cannily timed his draft move at the finish to perfection to beat Bradl (65) by 0.071 seconds.
Bradl’s first podium came at Qatar in 2008 when he finished third on the Grizzly Gas Kiefer Racing Aprilia. His was a fairly consistent season, with a breakthrough win in the Czech Republic. In 2009 all of his finishes were in the top ten, but he had seven non-points-paying races.
Marquez began racing enduro and motocross as a six-year-old, moving to road racing in 2002 when he was nine. He won his first title on a 50 in 2003 and was the Catalunya 125cc champion in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 he moved to the CEV Spanish championship, winning the third round in Jerez, and a year later made his debut with Team KTM Repsol in the 125cc World Championship. It wasn’t until 2010 that the full depth of his talent was on display.
Riding a Derbi for Red Bull Ajo Motorsports, Marquez began a five-race winning streak at Mugello. When he was done, he’d surpassed Valentino Rossi as the youngest rider to win five races in a row. (He’s also the youngest to have four poles in a row and his 12 poles are the most ever in the 125cc class). One win followed in the next four races, then came a four-race win streak that gave him a 17-point lead heading into the Valencia season finale where he earned the title with a fourth-place finish. That earned him a promotion to Moto2 where much was expected and he didn’t disappoint…in testing. But once racing began he suddenly seemed mortal.
Marquez (93) turned the tables...
Marquez (93) turned the tables on Bradl (65) at the German’s home circuit, winning the Sachsenring Moto2 race by 0.896 seconds despite Bradl’s determined efforts.
Three products of the Spanish...
Three products of the Spanish rider farm system have been at the forefront of the 2011 Moto2 season: Marquez leads young Briton Bradley Smith (38), with Bradl lurking in the background.
Bradl’s Viessmann Kiefer Racing...
Bradl’s Viessmann Kiefer Racing team switched to the German-made Kalex chassis in 2011, and while his results speak volumes, Bradl feels a riding style change is the main reason for his speed this year.
“On the test I’m alone, I have all the day to find the best setup and in one race weekend, you have just 45 minutes, in just three free practice and one qualifying,” Marquez began. “And then on the race you have many riders there, you have to pass many riders with a full tank. Also it’s a little bit difficult in the beginning, because 18-20 liters feels quite a lot and this is quite difficult.
“In the beginning the most difficult change is you come from two-stroke to four-stroke, it’s quite a big difference,” Marquez said. “The engine braking I think is the biggest difference and the most difficult also, but then the weight of the bike. This is not so difficult to get a good confidence, but the worst problem is the brake point, because there it’s where you have the engine brake and with the two-stroke you don’t have nothing, so it’s the biggest difference.”
Bradl didn’t find the engine braking a problem. “Yeah, you get used to it,” related the young German. “You need to make a lot of kilometers on the bike, but with the clutch you’re able to control it very well and for me the engine brake was not a big problem.” He does agree on the difficulty of racing with a full fuel tank; “Yeah, you feel it,” Bradl said. “You feel it more also the weight of the bike is a lot more than 125. But, yeah, this is the normal weight if you want to go MotoGP, I think you have to do this way. The exit of the corner is even more important than it is in 125 because you have a really big rear tire. You need to work the tires and is very important to accelerate. You can spin the tire, but not spin too much, because you need to go forward, not to spin too much and go sideways. You have to feel it. This is very funny riding Moto2 because everything is in the throttle hand. No electronics, nothing. This is why the riders make the difference.”