Motorcycling Australia (MA) is extremely proud to announce that 2020 bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup (OJC) Champion Marianos Nikolis and Runner-up Tom Drane, have been selected to compete in the 2021 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup Championship.
In only the second year of competition, Australia’s premier junior road racing program, officially supported by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), FIM Oceania and endorsed by Dorna Sports sl, as part of the Road to MotoGP program, is already proving to be the international springboard it was intended to be.
Nikolis from Royalla, NSW, and Drane from Forbes, NSW, who finished 1st and 2nd respectively in this year’s OJC, as part of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul (ASBK), are the newest OJC riders to be selected to race in the highly competitive Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup (IATC).
MA and the the FIM Oceania Junior Cup Management Team selected Nikolis and Drane, both highly skilled riders not only for their results and natural talent on track but their maturity and professionalism off track.
Both riders have come from a dirt track background, with Nikolis a 2-time Motostars Junior Champion who finished 5th in last year’s OJC and convincingly won the Championship this year.
Drane who finished 3rd in the OJC last year and runner-up this year is a 15-time Australian Dirt Track Champion, 20-time State Dirt Track Champion, and 3-time American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Dirt Track Champion.
“The Oceania Junior Cup was developed to provide junior riders with the right training and experience to open up pathways through the Australian Superbike Championship and opportunities on the road to MotoGP,” said MA Operations Director Martin Port.
“In only the second year, we are seeing the results of the hard work by MA, ASBK and our partners in developing this world class junior development program, with every rider representing Australia in the 2021 IATC coming through the OJC program, including 2019 OJC Champion Carter Thompson,” said Mr Port.
For both Nikolis and Drane the unexpected news has turn out to be the ultimate Christmas surprise.
“I’m very excited it’s been a big dream of mine since I started racing,” said Nikolis.
“I’ve looked up to Billy Van Eerde for a while so it’s an exciting opportunity and definitely a great Christmas present, what more could you ask for.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for the Oceania Junior Cup and I can’t thank the OJC and all the staff enough for how they have helped me.
“Winning the Oceania Junior Cup Championship and hearing the good news about the Asia Talent Cup it just couldn’t make my year any better.”
Drane is excited for the challenge of the IATC as he moves one step closer to his MotoGP dream.
“I’m super happy, it didn’t really sink in for a while, but I’m really excited to go over to the Asia Talent Cup,” he said.
“I think with everything OJC has taught me I will go alright over there and do my best.
“I’m hoping to have a good season in the Asia Talent Cup and get good results, and hopefully I can get a spot in the Red Bull Rookies and progress up to MotoGP.”
Parents and riders wanting more information about Motorcycling Australia’s junior development program – Oceania Junior Cup – can visit the ASBK website https://www.asbk.com.au/about-asbk/oceania-junior-cup/
Pictures by Russell Colvin, Andrew Gosling and Asia Talent Cup
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