2012 MOTOGP MOMENTS - A NEW BRITISH STAR IS BORN
The emergence of Scott Redding and Bradley Smith in recent years convinced the world that young British riders were worthy of a punt on the Grand Prix stage again.
We might not be churning out precocious young talent at the rate of Spain and Italy, but Danny Kent stepped onto the trail blazed by Redding and Smith to emerge as Britain’s newest bright young star in 2012.
He’d already scored his first podium in the new Moto3 class in Assen but then went onto win two of the last four races with stunning last lap victories in Motegi and Valencia.
His debut victory in Japan was memorable also for the reaction of his Red Bull KTM teammate Sandro Cortese.
The final lap drama started when Luis Salom attempted an outrageously ambitious and ultimately flawed overtake on the brakes that saw him crash and wipe out leader Jonas Folger.
That rash move put Kent in third and with no team orders in place to protect championship leader Cortese, his made a decisive move for the win with a brilliantly executed move on the brakes at the penultimate corner.
Kent was blissfully unaware as he sped off to take his first win that there was more chaos behind him as Cortese crashed after a tangle with Alessandro Tonucci, The German remounted to claim sixth.
Kent barely had time to soak up the magnitude of his achievement when he had Cortese waving his fist and shouting abuse in his face on the slowing down lap, even though his advantage in the standings had increased from 51 to 56-points with just three races remaining.
With Salom crashing out and Maverick Vinales only fourth, Cortese could have clinched the inaugural Moto3 title had he not got embroiled in the late controversy.
He clearly felt Kent should have respected that fact that he was seconds away from his first world title and not attempted to overtake him. But with no team orders in place, Kent ruthlessly honoured his pre-race pledge to attack for the win.
Cortese later apologised for his public show of road rage but at the time Kent told MCN: “That last lap incident was nothing to do with me. I left Sandro a stack of room going into that corner and then he came into contact with Tonucci. So I have no idea why he has got such a big problem with me.
I’m disappointed that he couldn’t win the championship but over the moon that I’ve won the race. I’m pretty disappointed in his reaction to be honest because before the race there were no team orders. They did sit me down and told me not to do anything stupid and I don’t think I did. In fact I don’t think I did anything wrong at all. He was going crazy but I knew it had nothing to do with me. I didn’t mess anybody up.
If I didn’t pass him then I would have regretted it because I knew I could have won. It is not like I ploughed into the side of him at over 100mph like he did to me in Assen.”
The 19-year-old moves to the Tech 3 Racing Moto2 squad next year and is definitely in the ‘one to watch’ category.