Motorcycling: Redding rides into history with fifth place on debut

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The Independent Online

The British 15-year-old Scott Redding last night became the youngest ever rider to finish in the top five of a grand prix motorcycle race, when he made a sensational debut in the opening round of the MotoGP world championship in Qatar.

Redding, from Quedgeley, Gloucestershire, climbed as high as third place in the 125cc race on the Losail circuit before vastly more experienced rivals pushed him back to fifth place on his 140mph Aprilia bike.

The 23-year-old Spaniard Sergio Gadea, a veteran of 70 world championship races, won the 18-lap event, but Redding delighted his Spanish BQR team with his astonishing entry into the grand prix scene. Another British teenager, Danny Webb, 16, finished sixth.

Redding had already created history by becoming the youngest ever rider to start from the front row of a grand prix race by qualifying in fourth place in his first ever grand prix event.

"I had a bad start, but I managed to pull back and a few people crashed and helped me to pick up places," he said. "I expected to finish about tenth or 11th, and when I saw that I had got up to third I thought, 'This isn't supposed to happen!' "

Redding has permission to miss school and receive his education from a personal tutor because of the pressure of his 17-round grand prix season. "Scott had a difficult start when he rode for us last year in the Spanish championship," team manager Ricard Jové said. "But he won the last three races of the season and finished second in the championship."

It seemed that another British youngster, 17-year-old Bradley Smith, might rewrite motorcycling's history book after qualifying on pole for the race on his Polaris World Aprilia. It was the first time that a British rider had finished on pole in the 125cc class in 36 years. Smith's bike failed in the warm-up session before the race, and he had to sprint back to the pits to collect his spare machine. He led the race on the first lap, but problems struck again and he finished 16th.