Written by By Camila Riasatti, CNN
Italy has a long tradition of legendary racing drivers, but the ride of its latest star is catching everyone by surprise.
In his second full season on the international motorcycle racetrack, Senad Kolasa Pecco has emerged as one of the main contenders to claim MotoGP’s premier crown.
At the age of 30, the young Italian stands fifth in the world championship with three victories to his name. So far this season, he’s recorded a comfortable 20 points total, which places him behind Andrea Dovizioso (28), Maverick Vinales (23) and Marc Marquez (19).
On Monday, he will race in his fifth successive round of the grueling World Motorcycling Championship (WMC) in Argentina. But with his main rival Valentino Rossi a distant second in the standings, this could be Pecco’s year to take the crown.
The latest addition to Italy’s motorcycling revolution — coming to the sport as an 11-year-old from Sardinia’s port town of Porto Porto — the rider who goes by the nom de plume ‘Pecco’ has been tipped to make the biggest impact since 2009’s ‘Spiderman’ Valentino Rossi.
After an indifferent start to his career, the Italian is now riding at the top of his game in MotoGP, with a series of clean sweeps in the more prestigious class.
According to a report in Corriere della Sera, it’s Pecco’s love of karting that gives him the edge.
In 2011, he broke the record for karting class, riding to victory in each of the seven races staged across the 12 days in Laguna Seca, Monterey and Zing.
On his website, the rider describes ‘pyro karting’ as “a 5-9-2 lap racing circuit involving faster bumps, jumps and climbs.”
In each round, the young rider only had eight laps to cross the line first, while winnings increased each lap.
With three titles to his name, as well as a series of highly personal honors, such as five titles from Italy’s Italian Moto Show (its version of MotoGP’s BRDC and BRDC Pro Sant’Anna) and Risso Championships, Pecco has become a fan favorite.