After witnessing yet another stunning performance by Marc Marquez just days after reading of Scott Redding’s departure to the British Superbike Championship I thought back to that youngest ever podium in the history of Grand Prix racing. It was the 125cc race at the 2008 British Grand Prix staged at Donington Park. It’s a story of contrasting fortunes.
It was a historic podium in so many ways. Redding won the race to become the youngster ever Grand Prix winner at the tender age of 15 years 170 days. Frenchman Mike Di Meglio was second on route to the 125 cc World title while in third place and looking even younger than Redding was a certain Marquez. It was the first time the Spanish teenager had stood on a Grand Prix podium and little did we realise what lay ahead. The average age of the three riders was just 17 years 29 days and it would have been considerably lower with Di Meglio pushing it up. He was the old man at that considerable age of over 20 years old.
Marquez went on to do what Marquez does and there will be even more after the Japanese Grand Prix next weekend. Di Meglio stepped up to the 250cc and Moto2™ classes before a couple of years in MotoGP™ while Redding broke plenty of records but just missed out on a world title after an eventful 11 years in the Grand Prix paddock.
Redding and Marco Melandri are the only two 15-year-old riders to win a Grand Prix race. The Donington Park win was the first British 125 cc winner since Chas Mortimer in 1973 and the first British solo class winner at the British round of the World Championship for 22 years. Redding is the only British Grand Prix winner in any class at Donington Park. Moving up to the Moto2™ class he continued to break the record and came so close to clinching the title in 2013, eventually finishing runner-up after a battle royal with Pol Espargaro.
His first Moto2™ win came at Le Mans in that Championship chasing year, making him the first British intermediate class winner since Jeremy McWilliams 12 years earlier. That win meant that he pipped a certain Barry Sheene to become the youngest British rider to win in two classes of Grand Prix racing and the first in 40 long years. He also won the British Grand Prix to become the first British winner at Silverstone since the return of the Grand Prix from Donington.
Redding’s much anticipated MotoGP™ career never quite took off despite two podium finishes in difficult conditions at Misano and Assen. In the end, it was inevitable he would move on.
MotoGP™ will miss so much about Scott Redding both on and off the track. He gave us success-starved British fans some real hope and great fun after such a barren time in the Grand Prix wilderness. He should be proud of that achievement as the youngest ever Grand Prix winner. A record that will surely remain with him forever.