Long-time fans of MotoGP will know the name of Danny Kent. He has been knocking around the minor classes for a few years now, and if you're like me, you'll have thought he was riding beneath himself - that he had something more to offer.
This year, that something seems to have been set free, and with a good Leopard Racing bike beneath him he leads the championship.
But where did Kent come from? How did he get here? And how good is he?
Born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, Kent started riding as most youngsters do - on Minimoto machines. He then went on to ride in the Aprilia Super Teens championship before going onto the true breeding ground for successful riders - the Spanish 125cc championship. From there, he picked up a ride in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, a race that usually happens after the main races are run on the Sunday.
Kent was runner-up in the Rookies Cup in 2010, only losing out to American rider Jacob Gagne (now riding in the MotoAmerica Superstock) by six points - an impressive feat, considering he didn't race in the final five rounds of the competition, having picked up a ride in the 125cc championship with Lambretta. He was also a wildcard entrant in the 2010 125cc British Grand Prix, although he retired from the race.
In 2011, Kent picked up a ride on the Red Bull Ajo Aprilia in the final year of the 125cc's, finishing 11th in the championship while picking up a fourth-place finish, and only retiring once all year - an impressive feat in the Mario Kart world of 125s. It was 2012, and the introduction of the Moto3 bikes, with 250cc engines and all, that saw Kent truly make a mark on the sport.
While his team mate Sandro Cortese won the first ever Moto3 World Championship, Kent was by no means a slouch. Finishing fourth overall, he recorded his first career pole position, his first lightweight class podium finish (third at Assen), and rounded out the season by winning two of the last four races on his way to 154 points. Kent had made a name for himself, and it didn't go unnoticed, as he was signed by Tech 3 to ride in Moto2.
Moto2 was not kind to Kent. While he only retired once all year, he never finished higher than 12th, only picked up 16 points all season, and missed the last two races of the year after breaking his collarbone in Japan. He had signed on to continue in Moto2 with Tech 3 for 2014, but he eventually joined the Husqvarna KTM team back in Moto3.
Again, 2014 wasn't great for Kent. Two podiums and a pole position helped him to 129 points, but he was 149 points back from champion Alex Marquez, and certainly wasn't the most impressive rider out there. You certainly didn't get the impression that he was capable of mounting a challenge like he has this year, where three wins, and a further podium finish, out of four races sees him top the championship.
Is He Any Good?
Well, he's 31 points ahead of his team mate Efren Vasquez after four races. He could take next weekend off and still lead the championship. There's always been a feeling with Danny that something was missing - be that the bike, the mental maturity, or the confidence to go out and win a race. That seems to have come together this year. If he can keep going as he has, I don't see anybody in the Moto3 field stopping him.
Where Can He Go From Here?
That is entirely up to him. Still only 21, he could spend the next five or so years in Moto3 if he really wanted to, although I don't see that happening. He could easily be up for a Moto2 ride next season, although the Jack Miller approach of missing out the Honda class could easily open up for him too. The world is his oyster.
I tell you what, though - I've not been this excited about a British rider since Scott Redding took the 250cc's by storm a few years back, or when Kent's mentor James Toseland made the jump from WSB to MotoGP.