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GP Week : Issue 76
the first year. The GP-linked European series continues in 2010, with several past graduates now racing 125s. All of these nurseries have been crucial. No modern rider stumbled upon his talent later in life. For all it was nurtured from the very earliest stage. And it seems that is the way it has to be now. Records for 'the youngest ever' keep tumbling. In 2008 British 125 racer Scott Redding (15 years and 170 days) displaced Marco Melandri to become the youngest-ever GP winner -- Melandri now being 27, and approaching the elder-statesman stage in MotoGP. But nobody has yet undercut Loris Capirossi, who remains as the youngest- ever World Champion, winning his first 125 crown in 1990, aged 17 and 165 days. The point is proven though by the fact that the oldest race and title winners in the 125 class (Les Graham at 41, and Nello Pagani at 37) did so in the distant past, in 1953 and 1949 respectively. Naturally the ages rise as the capacity increases. The youngest race winner and champion in 250s is Dani Pedrosa, who was 18 for his first chequered flag in 2004, and a few days older than 19 when he won the title the same year. The 250s also have the oldest race winner in any class -- Arthur Wheeler in 1962, aged 46; as well as the oldest champion, 45- year-old German NSU rider Hermann-Paul 'Happy' Muller in 1955. The premier class shows how the trend to youth started when the Americans arrived. Freddie Spencer is both the youngest to win a race (20) and to win the title one year later in 1983, aged 21. His victory was over Kenny Roberts, another who had been racing when still in short pants. Casey Stoner missed ousting Spencer from the top of the list by just 84 days when he won in 2007. And the oldest? Fergus Anderson was 44 when he took his Moto Guzzi to victory at Spa Francorchamps in 1953; Les Graham a mellow 37 when he took the inaugural 1949 crown on an AJS. There's plenty of time left for Rossi and the rest, then. Danny Pedrosa, above and left, was just 18 when he won his first 250cc race, at Phillip Island ... Aleix Espargaro -- youngest on the grid this year , at just 20 years of age Moto GP FEATURE >> 45