Rossi-Gardner Showdown in Spain
The Rossi-Gardner showdown never really happened.Remy Gardner, the 12-year-old son of 1987 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner, and Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi’s 13-year-old half-brother, faced off at the Albacete Circuit on Sunday, but not in the main race. Neither of the young riders transferred to the Honda NSF100 final at the UEM Road Racing European Championship. Instead they took part in the five-lap consolation race.Marini was among the front-runners from the start, while Gardner started sixth, worked his way up to fourth, then dropped back. Marini, meanwhile, pressured the leaders to the end and was part of the mad dash to the flag, finishing third in a pack of four that crossed the line on the same second as the winner, Alessandro Zaccone of Italy. Alessandro Costantino, also of Italy, finished second, just .090 behind the winner and .780 up on Marini.In his first ever road race, Gardner was 11th, 1.623 secs. behind the winner as his father and three other world champions, Alex Criville, Angel Nieto, and Julian Simon, looked on.”My first race was so much fun,” Remy Gardner said. “I just want to keep doing that forever. It’s like a drug – you can’t get enough of it. I know if I had some more time on the bike I could do better, but I’m just happy to be able to compete with the best in the world.”Gardner and Marini were some of the 36 young riders invited to Sunday’s final. The riders took turns qualifying on the 18 Honda NSF100’s over two Saturday sessions. The top 18 went to one semi and the second 18 went to the second semi.Gardner missed transferring to the main by three places by finishing 12th in his semi.In the consolation race, Gardner started sixth and was fourth in the first corner. Then he dropped back to fifth in the next corner and eventually dropped to 11th, .744 secs. from third.”I loved battling against everyone. It was so much fun, I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I just wanted to keep going! I actually leant over on a guy on the corner – it was sick.”The NSF 100 main was a thriller, with the top three riders covered by .094 sec. and the top eight covered by .820 sec.The victory went to Spaniard Albert Arena by .090 sec. over Italian Fabio Spiranelli, with Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio another .001 back in third and Lorenzo Gabellini, also from Italy, another .003 sec. back in fourth.