AS CLOSE AS IT CAN GET, DI MARIO WINS NATC CHAMPIONSHIP BY ONE POINT
It was Di Mario and Shedden down to the wire for the final round at Barber Motorsports Park alongside MotoAmerica.
BIRMINGHAM, AL, September 27, 2022 – The inaugural season of the North America Talent Cup, an official Road to MotoGP™ project, came down to a single point between the champion and the runner-up. It could not have been any closer—a true testament of the incredible show the young road racer put on throughout the year.
For seven rounds, aspiring professional road racers as young as thirteen-years-old put their heart and soul into the North America Talent Cup. The competitors impressed seasoned racers wherever they went, and made full-grown adults question their own guts on the track.
It was an old-fashioned dog fight between Jesse James Shedden and Alessandro Di Mario. Neither competitor was going to give an inch on the track. Ultimately, it was Di Mario who prevailed with an impressive and consistent season on the Aprilia RS250 SP2.
We could be telling a different story and announcing a different winner had any one of the fourteen races ended any other way. The only blemish on Shedden’s excellent season was a DQ during round six, giving him zero points for race one. That technical error ended up costing him the championship. A very hard pill to swallow, but the kind of lesson that forges a lifelong champion mindset. How will Shedden bounce back from NATC 2022?
Regardless, the numbers don’t lie, and it was Di Mario who finished one-point clear of Shedden. What lies ahead for Di Mario? He has proven his talent and tenacity. He can race; can he also be true professional at the highest level?
For many of the other NATC racers, they too have become high-profile talent. Alex Enriquez will represent North America in the 2023 Red Bull Rookies Cup—a phenomenal accomplishment. Logan Cunnison had a stellar year with several podiums and hard charging finishes. Aiden Sneed has shown he is definitely a force to reckon with and will continue to be a top competitor wherever he goes. Chris Clark, Jayden Fernandez, Logan Monk, Haydn Meng, Philip DeGama-Blanchet, and Suhaib Salem are all names we will continue to hear. I suspect we will see them on podiums in the near future.
All the competitors have proven they have what it takes to race at the national level. Thanks to the AMA and the NATC, we have been able to witness the genesis of America’s future road racing champions.
Side note: As a journalist, I am tasked with simply reporting and not getting emotionally involved. After watching these young athletes compete round after round, watching their teams and parents face challenge after challenge, and witnessing the pressure, I cannot help but say something from a personal perspective. Regardless of where they finished in the points, these kids have my respect. Their first round, not having any experience on the bike, was alongside MotoGP at COTA. A huge track and an equally huge production on the world stage. They stepped up. While most kids play ball sports, these kids are pushing the laws of physics at speeds over 100 mph on a high-performance motorcycle, all while traveling around the country and living in a van. Kudos to them, and respect to their families who also sacrifice their time, energy, and money to make dreams reality.
About NATC The NATC is a one-make spec-series of teams and riders, using the successful Northern Talent Cup as a blueprint. The limit on entries is 20 riders between 13 and 16 years of age in 2022. The spec-motorcycle will be the Aprilia RS250 SP2; a machine developed by Aprilia in partnership with Ohvale and proven to offer a competitive platform for developing talent. The NATC is designed to create close competition in a cost-effective manner. In its first year, the NATC will race throughout the continental U.S., with seven designated rounds taking place alongside MotoGP™, MotoAmerica™, WERA, and MRA.
About the FIM North America FIM North America is one of six Continental Unions (CONUs) recognized as geographical subdivisions and accountable to the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). It was founded in 1998. The national federations who are members of FIM North America are, by virtue of their geographical area and their membership in the FIM, the American Motorcyclist Association and the Canadian Motorcycle Association. FIM North America establishes an annual calendar of Continental Championship events and other activities and declares champions in designated disciplines and classes. Its member federations issue CONU licenses to riders participating in FIM NA events as well as those who are participating in Continental Championship events organized in other CONUs. For more information, visit fim-northamerica.com.