Maggiora, Italy. June 2013. Alessandro Lupino’s career from the junior ranks and three years of Italian Federation support as the country’s ‘next big thing’ finally hit a taller gear. Over 30,000 spectators cheered the stylish and friendly 23 year old (now 24 and in his last crack at the MX2 class) to a second podium finish of that season and his racing life up until that point. It was vindication for the hype, injuries and derision of some people who believed Lupino was too ‘nice’ to make the grade. Part of the paddock since puberty, ‘The Wolf’ has grown physically and mentally and improved his all-round abilities in various terrain to draw near to being a contender in MX2. Now a regular part of Italy’s Motocross of Nations team – and one of the trio that took a memorable third place in Germany last summer – Lupino, in his second year with CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki, is one of the elder statesmen of MX2 and knows that 2014 represents a final shot at glory on the 250s before MXGP beckons.