The Red Bull Elite Youth Academy’s mission to give wings to the next generation of motocross stars got off to a flying start on Tuesday when seven aspiring 65cc racers spent the day training with off-road legend Dave Thorpe and reigning Red Bull Pro Nationals MX2 champion Elliott Banks-Browne at Apex MX.
Dave’s magnificent seven were hand-picked by the three-time world MX champion and together with Red Bull athlete Elliott the youngsters aged between nine and 11 were treated to a motocross masterclass that covered all aspects of the sport from riding techniques through to dietary tips and advice on mental preparation.
“Today has been excellent,” said Dave who won three world 500cc titles in the 1980s. “All the lads turned up ready to learn and I could see them make definite progress throughout the day. It’s been very rewarding for me as well as the young riders. This is just the beginning of big and exciting things to come and I can’t thank Red Bull enough for giving us all this opportunity.”
As well as benefitting from Dave’s unrivalled experience the young pupils were also able to study modern riding techniques with 22-year-old Elliott giving one-to-one tuition as well as putting in a series of demonstration laps and his enthusiasm for the project was clear to see.
“It’s been a really good day,” said Elliott. “I was actually pretty amazed at how fast they were going – they’re not scared of anything. It’s an awesome thing for Red Bull to do and if I’d have had something like this when I was growing up it would have helped me so much. You can see the benefits a structured programme like this has in other countries – these lads need that guidance to put them in the right direction. I’m very proud to be a part of it and help these kids although it looks like one day they’ll probably be beating me!”
Dave Grimshaw, whose 11-year-old son Tom was in action at Apex, was equally enthusiastic.
“It’s something that’s been missing for several years now,” explained Dave. “Straight away all the boys have stepped it up a level and to have Dave Thorpe and Elliott Banks-Browne, riders from both ends of the spectrum, giving their input is fantastic. This is the way forward. Red Bull put so much into the sport and this is a great thing for them to do because the youngsters will benefit so much from it – they’re giving lads like Tom a golden opportunity. I can’t wait for the next race and I’m sure when we go practising this week Tom will work on all the techniques he’s been taught today.”
The Red Bull Elite Youth Academy now moves to Cusses Gorse on July 31 with a date for Small and Big Wheel 85cc riders. Then it’s on to Tonymoto on August 16 where the country’s most promising Big Wheel 85cc riders will receive instruction alongside our best Rookie racers before signing off with a specially selected group drawn from all four classes at GP star Jake Nicholls’ private track at his home on the outskirts of Ipswich on August 21.
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Scott Russell, 10
“I’ve learned all about smoothing out the corners and keeping momentum going around corners. It was exciting to train with Dave Thorpe and Elliott.”
Jack Scott, 11
“We learned about late braking, how to stand up going around corners and jumping. I’m very proud to have been given the opportunity to come here today.”
Rossi Beard, 9
“I’ve learned how to scrub a bit better and brake later into the corners. It’s been really good to train with Dave and Elliott.”
Callum Gasson, 11
“Today’s been really good. I’ve learned loads of stuff. Dave Thorpe is an absolute legend and meeting Elliott has been really inspiring. It feels great to be part of the Red Bull Elite Youth Academy.”
Jack Wankling, 11
“I’ve enjoyed myself so much – it’s been really good and I’ve learned some good techniques like standing up as long as I can into corners and braking late, stuff like that. I’ve been given a great opportunity and it’s cool to learn from riders like Elliott and Dave.”
Tom Grimshaw, 11
“We’ve been working hard on cornering – picking lines and thinking about angles and flowing. It’s been a really good day and great to meet a rider like Elliott and also a three-time world champion.”
Christopher Mills, 11
“I really enjoyed the training and have learned a lot from today. It’s great for Dave to have seen something in me and given me the chance to come along.”
Images by Nuno Laranjeira