Pol Espargaro: Moto2 World Champion
Espargaró won his first World Championship title with 22 years of age. The Spanish becomes the world champion 107 pilot in the history of the World ChampionshipsThe younger brother of MotoGP™ racer Aleix Espargaro made his World Championship debut as a wildcard in 2006, at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya situated barely ten minutes’ drive from his Granollers home. From 27th on the grid, Pol would finish that 125 race in 13th position to become the youngest ever rider to score points in the World Championship, barely one week after his 15th birthday. Covering for the injured Andrea Iannone for the final six races, Espargaro impressed with sixth place in the Valencia season-closer. His first full season came in 2007, switching from Derbi to Aprilia equipment and achieving a first podium finish at Estoril as he finished only two tenths of a second behind winner Hector Faubel. Espargaro switched back to a Derbi bike for his final three 125 seasons. In 2008 came a further three podium finishes plus his career-first pole position in Barcelona. He would finish fourth in the standings in 2009, then going one better to manage third overall as he missed the podium on only five occasions in 2010. Marc Marquez would win the title before both he and Espargaro jumped up to Moto2™ for 2011. Espargaro’s first campaign in the intermediate category was with FTR machinery and would prove to be difficult, not scoring a podium until Indianapolis before following up with another top three result in Malaysia. He ended a somewhat low-key year 13th in the championship, switching to a Kalex for a title assault in 2012. Remembered for the battle between Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez, the 2012 Moto2™ World Championship would not be without its controversy. Espargaro would rack up no less than eight pole positions and four race victories, including Round 2 at Jerez which was red-flagged. The other three wins came at Silverstone, MotorLand Aragón and Phillip Island, with the Australian success being nothing short of dominant as he clinched victory by the massive margin of nearly 17 seconds. However, there was a contentious incident in Barcelona when Espargaro crashed following a chop from Marquez who was recovering from an incident of his own. He would eventually end the year as runner-up and 56 points in arrears of Marquez. A favourite for the title in 2013, Espargaro started off as he meant to continue by winning in floodlit Qatar but only after an entertaining battle with Scott Redding. He would not retain the championship lead for long, crashing at the inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas two weeks later. A third place in Jerez was followed by a crash at Le Mans and fourth at Mugello, then celebrating back-to-back wins at Barcelona and Assen. The low point was eighth at Silverstone as title rival Redding romped away to a popular home victory, but victories at Misano and Phillip Island were more than welcome. The turning point was qualifying in Australia, when Redding crashed and fractured his left wrist which left the Englishman on the sidelines for a race. Espargaro clinched the title at Motegi on 27th October, winning the Japanese Grand Prix after closest rivals Redding and Tito Rabat were involved in a first-lap multiple collision. In 2014, he will step up to MotoGP™ with Monster Yamaha Tech3 and is expected to be in contention for podium finishes as he partners Bradley Smith.