It’s well known that one of the specific missions of the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship is to introduce young men and women to the sport of motorcycle road racing. The pathway starts in Liqui Moly Junior Cup, where MotoAmerica nourishes the young apprentices, cultivates their skills and racecraft, and helps advance them through the various MotoAmerica classes, ultimately, to the Motul Superbike class, and then- for the very best riders – onto the world stage, whether in the Superbike World Championship or in MotoGP.
It’s a steep learning curve, and the rungs on the development ladder are fairly widely spaced, especially since Superstock 600, the intermediary step from Junior Cup to Supersport, was removed in 2018. In addition, the one-manufacturer KTM RC Cup spec race class was replaced in 2018 by the multi-manufacturer Liqui Moly Junior Cup race class, and we’ve already chronicled the fact that 2017 RC Cup Champion Benjamin Smith moved up to Supersport for 2018 and was met with a buzzsaw of talent in the process.
For the upcoming 2019 season, 2018 Junior Cup Champion Alex Dumas and Championship runner-up Cory Ventura will most likely face the same challenge that Smith did when, as expected, they also move up to Supersport. But, when comparing Dumas with Ventura, their situations are dramatically different.
Dumas raced a KTM RC 390 in Mexico before becoming old enough to race in the MotoAmerica KTM RC Cup. Then, he was one of only two riders in America to be part of the KTM Orange Brigade, which meant that Dumas got to race the brand-new, much-more-potent 2018 RC 390 R in the inaugural season of the Junior Cup class. And, at age 16, Dumas, in his third consecutive year with KTM, won the title, which was the first road racing championship that KTM has won on America soil.
At MotoAmerica’s Night of Champions, Dumas appeared on stage to accept his #1 plate, and he was joined by former KTM Superbike rider and current brand ambassador/rider coach Chris Fillmore, who was beaming with pride about what his young, French-Canadian protégé had accomplished. The moment was as poignant as it was celebratory because KTM doesn’t have a middleweight sportbike, or even a Superbike, on which Dumas could race and continue with the same brand. Thus, that moment on stage between Dumas and Fillmore could be seen as a goodbye or at least a forced parting.
We spoke to Dumas and his father Francois right after the Night of Champions concluded, and both of them lamented that it appeared to be the end of the road for their KTM affiliation. Francois mentioned that they were exploring the possibility of Alex continuing to race a KTM RC 390 R by competing in the 2019 World Supersport 300 Championship instead of in MotoAmerica. Francois also said that they were pursuing opportunities for Alex to race a middleweight bike in MotoAmerica Supersport, but it was clear that father and son both seemed reluctant to make the move up a class.
And then, this week, Alex Dumas posted a photo on social media of himself aboard a Kawasaki ZX-6R and lined up right next to a ZX-10R with beIN Sports MotoAmerica commentator Jason Pridmore in the saddle. Pridmore is Dumas’ rider coach and Pridmore’s company JP43 Training is a title sponsor for Dumas’ team. The text accompanying the social media post from Dumas says, “Having a blast on the stock 600 and learning new things about big bikes with @pridmore43.”
So, it would seem that Alex Dumas’ reluctance, along with his father’s, to move up to MotoAmerica Supersport is now possibly turning into enthusiasm for the idea.
At the other end of the spectrum, Cory Ventura seems all-in on the idea of moving up from Junior Cup to Supersport, and if he chooses, he can continue his brand loyalty for Yamaha, since the tuning-forks company’s products run the gamut from the Junior Cup YZF-R3, to the Supersport YZF-R6, to the Superbike YZF-R1, and they even have the Twins Cup-eligible MT-07 and the Stock 1000-eligible R1 if Ventura chooses to compete in those series in the future.
Ventura rode an R6 during the Customer Appreciation Day that Yamaha hosted at Sonoma Raceway on the Monday following the MotoAmerica Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma. In addition, Ventura has also thrown a leg over his MP13 Racing team owner Melissa Paris’ Yamaha R1 Stock 1000 machine.
So, chances are good that we will see Ventura on an R6 in Supersport next year, although the 16-year-old is probably also doing his due diligence and exploring opportunities in World Supersport 300 just as Dumas is.
When asked about moving up to MotoAmerica Supersport for 2019, Ventura said, “For me, I’m totally open to moving up. I feel like I can ride a 600 really well, and it suits my style. I think it’ll be a blast to learn a new bike and a new class. It’s going to help advance my career, and it will make a top-10 finish mean even more.”
So, will we see both Dumas and Ventura competing in the 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship? For Ventura, it’s more than likely, and for Dumas, it seems at least probable.
Either way, the mission of MotoAmerica continues.