JOSH O’Brien scorched to a podium finish today as he took on the best MiniGP riders from across the globe in the FIM World Final at Valencia.
The 14-year-old was among six British and Irish riders selected to take on the season finale in Spain this week and after his third in today’s opening scrap before following it up with two top sixes, the Irish rider finished fifth overall.
Representing Ireland alongside Brian Hamilton Finnan Wherity, O’Brien was the best of the trio through yesterday’s practice and qualifying sessions, bagging a P4 grid spot for races one and two.
O’Brien held fourth as the race got underway, while a gaggle of Spaniards battled for the lead. But with one of them crashing out late on, O’Brien slotted up into third just as he ran into brake issues – holding on for the final few laps to impress with a third place finish.
The Irish teen was back in the mix in race two as he battled with a pair of Italian riders for the final rostrum spot, but he was eventually forced to settle for sixth with fading tyres – nabbing a front row start for the SuperFinal scrap.
O’Brien was running as high as second in the opening laps before a few early skirmishes dropped him back to fourth. In an effort to regain his lost ground, he tried a pass at the chicane but was nearly unseated, allowing one of the Spanish riders to get back past as O’Brien settled for fifth at the chequered flag to put him fifth overall in the world standings.
“We’ve had a great season and just to qualify for this World Final was an achievement,” he admitted.
“It’s been a brilliant experience being around the MotoGP paddock and not only meeting but also working with one of my MotoGP idols Brad Binder. I was coming here for the experience and to learn, so I was really happy to be so competitive.
“To finish fifth, battling with riders from the two strongest Motorcycle Racing nations, Spain and Italy, is a massive achievement and way beyond what I was expecting, so I’m delighted with the way it went. I have to thank everyone who helped me to achieve this result, especially Kelan Smith, without whose help I would not have been racing in MiniGP this season.”
Scoring all three race wins, Spain’s Izan Rodriguez-Alvarez was crowned best of the FIM MiniGP World contenders.