Joe Roberts

Portimao Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison On Rookies Ruling The Roost, Americans Racing, And Strange Stewarding

For the third time in as many races, the rookies lit up the smaller classes in Portugal, and now may harbour genuine title hopes…

Raul on a roll

You can count on one hand the number of riders that have impacted the Moto2 class as immediately as Raul Fernandez. A podium in one of his first two races? Only three did it before (Hafizh Syahrin, Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins). And now the 20-year old joins Viñales as the only rider to have won a race in their first three appearances.

By that measurement, Fernandez is fairly special; not even Marc Márquez or Joan Mir adapted this quickly. And for a rider that scored ‘just’ two wins and two podiums in the junior class across three years, it would be fair to say few saw this coming.

In Portugal, the scene of his dominant final Moto3 appearance, he fought through from a poor qualifying (tenth) and methodically picked off the men in the seven-rider lead group. In both Qatar races, the Spaniard had challenged the leaders early on, only for tyre life to slow him as the race edged toward the end. But here, no one could live with him in the final six laps, as he first passed Joe Roberts, then Aron Canet to pull clear and win by 1.6s.

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Le Mans Moto2 & Moto3 Review - Neil Morrison On The Moto2 Starting Mess, The Brit Resurgence, Marini Soldiering On, And Moto2 Silly Season So Far

As always Moto2/3 delivered a wide range of talking points at the French Grand Prix. Sunday’s results threw up a host of surprises. With just five races remaining, both championships remain finely poised. Here, we take a look through some of the big talking points from both classes.

Moto2 start line mix up explained

The race began in bizarre circumstances as pole sitter Joe Roberts was dragged off the grid, started the warm up lap from pit lane, and then watched the race get underway before he had a chance to line up on the grid.

So what the hell happened? Well, the intermediate class followed MotoGP on Sunday afternoon. The track was wet but drying rapidly. The majority of Moto2 riders left pit lane for their sighting lap on wet tyres but soon realised only slicks would do. The grid then became a flurry of activity as teams not only changed tyres, but adjusted their bikes from wet to dry setup.

The American Racing Team attempted too much. The rules state, “All adjustments must be completed by the display of the 3-Minute board. After this board is displayed, riders who still wish to make adjustments must push their machine to the pit lane.” As that board was raised, a highly bemused Roberts and his machine were shown off the grid.

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Brno Moto2 & Moto3 Review - Neil Morrison On Lowes' Podium, Roberts' Revival, A Fiery Foggia, And More

Sam Lowes leads Joe Roberts ing the Brno Moto2 race - Photo: Polarity Photo

In one of the most topsy-turvy rounds in recent memory, Moto2 and Moto3 added to the spectacle as certain riders triumphed while others bafflingly faded away. As always we’re on hand to take a look through some of the biggest talking points through both classes.

A calmer Lowes

There was good reason to believe Sam Lowes’ hopes of a strong championship finish were over before it had all started. A slow, innocuous testing fall at Jerez in early February ruptured tendons in his right shoulder, chipped the top of his humerus bone and deprived him of his entire preseason testing programme. That kind of injury isn’t one you just shake off; the joint still gives the Englishman considerable pain at the end of each day.

It was a nightmare start to life as a Marc VDS rider in what is a critical season. But how he has fought back has been exceptional. While fortunate the suspension of racing gave him added time to recover, there has been nothing lucky about performances since. A pair of fourth places at Jerez was a solid foundation to build on. And the Czech Grand Prix – where he was never outside the top two – resulted in a first podium finish since September, 2016.

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Jerez MotoGP Things I Missed: Numb Hands, A Possible Second Place, And The Support Classes

An awful lot happened at Jerez on Sunday, when the 2020 MotoGP season resumed/started. So much so that it didn't all fit into the subscriber notes published in the very, very wee hours of Monday morning. You can go back there to read about the delicate balance between risk and reward which riders face in 2020, Marc Márquez' astonishing ride and terrible fall, wrecking his upper arm and his title defense, how Márquez' crash exposes Honda's precarious situation without the reigning champion, Fabio Quartararo's fantastic win, and how Yamaha have turned around their MotoGP project since the nadir of 2018, Dovizioso's first MotoGP podium at Jerez and the strength of the Ducati, how the championship has been blown wide open, as well as how the KTM is now a genuinely competitive racing motorcycle. But here are a few more things to think about.

First, an update on Marc Márquez. After a preliminary examination in hospital, with the swelling of the initial trauma surrounding Márquez' broken humerus starting to reduce, doctors are optimistic that Márquez has not suffered damage to the radial nerve in his right arm. That would greatly improve his chances of a speedy recovery, a pin or plate enough to hold the bone in his upper arm together. Dr Mir, overseeing Márquez' care, told the media that Márquez could be ready to race in Brno.

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Iker Lecuona To Make MotoGP Debut At Valencia Race

Iker Lecuona's MotoGP debut has been moved forward a few days. The Spaniard will replace Miguel Oliveira in the Red Bull KTM Tech3 MotoGP team at Valencia, Lecuona's home Grand Prix.

Lecuona is set to join the Tech3 team for 2020, replacing the departing Hafizh Syahrin, and would have been riding the KTM RC16 at the official test on Tuesday and Wednesday anyway. With Oliveira choosing to have surgery on the shoulder he damaged in the crash with Johann Zarco at Silverstone, it made sense to put Lecuona on the bike a few days earlier.

Lecuona's early promotion opens up a gap in the American Racing Team in Moto2. The team have decided to replace Lecuona at Valencia with Sean Kelly, an American currently racing in the MotoAmerica series. Kelly has experience of Valencia, having raced in the Red Bull Rookies Cup for three seasons.

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2018 Argentina Saturday Round Up: A Gambler's Wild Ride Rewarded

Motorcycle racing is many things, but above all, it is unpredictable. Just when you think a racing series has settled in to a pattern, either during a season or over the course of a race weekend, along comes some unexpected factor or other to throw a spanner into the works and turn it all on its head. Suddenly, the script has gone out of the window and the protagonists are all ad-libbing their way to a completely new and unimagined story.

This is why so many riders sport symbols of gambling on their leathers, helmets, or bikes. Look around the MotoGP grid, and you see dice, cards, and poker chips everywhere. With so many random elements which can affect the outcome, from mechanical misfortune to errors of judgment to choosing the wrong tires to the fickleness of the weather, there is always the hope that things can break your way. It's always worth rolling the dice, because from time to time, a gamble will pay off handsomely.

That is how we ended up with the polesitters in the three classes at Argentina all taking pole for the first time in their careers. And it wasn't just the riders on pole: in MotoGP, three of the top four riders in qualifying were on satellite bikes. In Moto2, two of the top three hadn't finished anywhere near the podium in the first race in Qatar. And the same in Moto3, the favorites qualified down the order, with fresh faces at the top of the timesheets.

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American Joe Roberts Interview: "Moto2 Is The Hardest Championship In The World"

Times are hard for American racers in the Grand Prix paddock. The series has seen a dearth of riders from the USA since Nicky Hayden left for the WorldSBK paddock after holding the fort for fourteen season, winning a MotoGP title along the way. Motorcycle racing in the US is clearly in a rebuilding phase, the MotoAmerica series focused on producing and encouraging new talent.

There are signs that it is working. Cameron Beaubier is taking on multiple champion and veteran racer Josh Hayes and winning. Jake Gagne, JD Beach, and Garrett Gerloff are all promising young racers capable of going places. But few have taken the leap of faith required to come racing in Europe. Josh Herrin tried in 2014, but never found his feet in the tough Moto2 class.

Now, there is Joe Roberts. The 20-year-old Californian moved to Europe this year after spending three years in MotoAmerica, winning the Superstock 600 title in 2015. He already had some experience, having raced in the Red Bull Rookies for a couple of seasons. He started the 2017 season racing in the FIM CEV Moto2 championship for the AGR team, alongside fellow American Jayson Uribe. When AGR parted ways with Yonny Hernandez in July after the Sachsenring, the team asked Roberts to step up the Moto2 world championship. It was not a particularly hard choice, as that was precisely the reason Roberts had come to Europe in the first place.

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