Tetbury race ace Danny Kent takes step closer to world championship ambitions
8:00am Thursday 18th October 2012 in Sport
DANNY KENT could have the same impact on the sport of motor cycling as former British world champion Barry Sheene, writes Alannah Fellows and Danny Hall.
That’s the view of his manager Roger Burnett, who also guided the career of former world champion James Toseland.
Kent’s win in the Moto3 race at the Japanese circuit of Motegi on Sunday was the first Grand Prix victory by a British rider outside Europe since Barry Sheene won the 500cc GP in Venezuela in 1979.
But it is not just Sheene’s skills on a motorcycle that Burnett thinks the 18-year-old Kent shares.
“Danny is similar to Sheene in a lot of ways,” said Burnett. “He has the same charisma, the same likeability factor and he has a good brain.”
Kent also has the fresh-faced looks of a boy-band member and his Twitter followers already exceed 44,000. Burnett maintains it is his job to make Kent even more popular.
The Tetbury race ace moves to Moto2 racing in 2013 – just one step from the top-level MotoGP series.
He is to join the French-based Tech3 team, with whom Toseland enjoyed some of his greatest successes.
Kent not only scored his maiden GP victory in Japan but he did so after securing his first pole position in qualifying. He was leading the race into the first corner before breaking away with a small leading group.
His victory was tainted with some controversy, however.
On the final lap, Luis Salom crashed, taking out leader Jonas Folger, which moved Kent up to second. With two corners to go, Kent and Alessandro Tonucci swept past championship leader Sandro Cortese, who recklessly cannoned into Tonucci as he tried to rally and hit the deck.
Kent sped away to take the win from Maverick Vinales with Tonucci in third.
Cortese appeared to berate his team-mate Kent on the cooling down lap, clearly frustrated that his own mistake had lost him the chance of clinching the title in Japan. Cortese also suggested Kent should not have been pressing him so hard, but the German has since issued a statement apologising to the British rider. Cortese did recover to finish sixth and he remains at the top of the standings, 56 points ahead of Vinales. Kent stays sixth in the championship.
Kent said: “It was a really good race, all weekend we’ve felt so strong so I knew we needed to be there from the beginning which we managed to do. I’m really happy.
“In the last few laps, it bunched up to about five people until Luis Salom out-braked himself and went into the side of Jonas Folger.
“There were no team orders and I believe I haven’t done anything silly as my passes were clean. The speed of my bike all weekend has been quite strong.
“Going into the second last corner I passed Sandro and I left him more than enough room, so from then I was just out there to win the race. I’m really happy to have my first win in Moto3 and leave with a bang.”
Danny’s next race is in Sepang, Malaysia this weekend and his manager Burnett envisages his man being hard to beat for the remainder of the season.
“Danny’s win has been long overdue – I did think he would have won more than one GP by this stage,” he said.
“I had to tell him a few things he did not want to hear – the sort of things that if he had heard them from his dad, he might have told him to shut up.
“But he had been racing well within himself and I had to point out he must work harder than he had been doing.
“There’s no point having all the talent in the world if you don’t put in the work.
“Now he knows what he needs to do to win, I think it will all click into place and he will get that winning feeling again.”