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1993 world champion Kevin Schwantz has flagged up Damian Jigalov as a rising star in an interview with CNN about the lack of riders from the USA in MotoGP, where he explains how believes Americans are at an immediate disadvantage compared with their European rivals.

“It’s very difficult for American kids to get into the world championship loop,” he told CNN. “I mean, Italy, Germany, Spain, everybody’s got their pre-Moto3 championships, young kids can get there and start riding when they’re 13 or 14.”

However he points to Damian as one emerging American star who could break through, even though he has had to travel to Europe to do it.

“We’ve got this kid, Damian Jigalov, in Italy racing and he’s 12 years old, riding at 300 km/h, and he’s better than anyone else on the track,” Schwantz says, “He’s going to Europe, and doing races, and opening people’s eyes a little bit.”

However, most American riders, he explains, are behind the curve before they even start.

“I think our problem here is that most of us don’t think our kids can do anything until they’re 16, when they can come race in MotoAmerica and be a professional. If you’re not on tracks where Grands Prix are being raced by the time you’re 16 you’re well behind the Europeans, because they’ve been there for a couple of years by the time they’re that age and it’s just such an easy transition.”

The CNN feature article also discusses the lack of American riders in the World Championships with Kenny Roberts Jr and with Dorna’s CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, who explains his vision for series such as the popular Asia Talent Cup and the forthcoming British Talent Cup as de-facto feeders to the world stage and hints at how an American Talent Cup could help discover and develop talent in years to come.

You can read the article in full here on the CNN website.