Kit Bag

Five racing debuts – Sunday list


Marc Marquez had a chance to win the MotoGP title today in Australia in his debut season, but instead was disqualified in a bizarre turn of events. He still has a chance to win the title with two more races to go, though, which would make him the first rookie to claim the world championship in 35 years.

Graham Caygill looks today at five other drivers who were strong their first years in motorsport.

1. Kenny Roberts: The American rider made his debut in the 500cc category of the World Championship series, which has since become MotoGP, in 1978 and four victories helped him become champion in his rookie year. He would ultimately win the title for the next two years as well.

2. Valentino Rossi: The Italian would eventually win seven world titles in the 500cc /MotoGP series, but he almost won the championship in his first year as well. He was edged out by Kenny Roberts, despite winning two races.

3. Nigel Mansell: Having won the Formula One world title in 1992, the Briton made the move to the United States and joined the Indycar series. Driving for Newman/Haas racing, claiming five wins meant he won the championship in 1993 by eight points.

4. Jacques Villeneuve: The Canadian made the opposite move to Mansell, winning the Indycar title in 1995 and then moving to F1 with the Williams team. He challenged for the world title in his first season, winning four times, before having to settle for second behind teammate Damon Hill.

5. Lewis Hamilton: The Briton mustered a strong start to life in F1, finishing on the podium in his first nine races. After leading the championship for most of the season, he missed out at the final round by a point to Kimi Raikkonen.