Moto2: Raul Fernandez, one of the strongest rookies ever
Raul Fernandez has burst his way onto the scene in Moto2 in 2021.
Before you read this, we are in no way comparing Raul Fernandez to any of the riders mentioned here, every rider mentioned happen to have excelled in their move into the Moto2 class which is why they are being highlighted.
Raul Fernandez is a rider who has been held in high regard for quite some time now, bursting onto the scene in 2016 finishing in a strong third place in the Red Bull Rookies and third place in the FIM CEV championship. This earned him a replacement ride at Valencia in the World Championship replacing Maria Herrera which saw him finish in a strong P11 on his debut scoring 5 points beating Herrera’s season-best result of P14, he scored 2 less points than Maria did all season long clocking in 7 points over 16 races.
It was clear as day that Fernandez was quick enough to race full time in the world championship, unfortunately despite these stellar results he would once again ride in the Junior World Championship for 2017 and 2018 with the Aspar team, struggling his way to 28th overall in 2017 with just 11 points to his name after the teams disastrous change to the hugely uncompetitive but cheap Mahindra machinery. With a switch back to KTM in 2018 he was able to prove it was the bike and not him and he would be crowned the 2018 Moto3 Junior World Champion, earning him a move to the world championship with Aspar on a two-year deal.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo boys have dominated in 2021.
He would complete just two years in the Moto3 World championship running 2019 in Aspar colours before KTM and Red Bull bought out his contract to secure his services in the strong Red Bull KTM Ajo team, he would instantly impress notching up six pole positions, four podiums and two race wins to his name in the latter part of the season after finally finding that 5% he needed to battle for the podium.
Originally he was supposed to remain in Moto3 for 2021 penning a deal with his Red Bull KTM Ajo team, however an issue would arise with his huge 177cm height and he became too tall to ride the Moto3 machines, Aki Ajo, Raul Fernandez and the teams partner Red Bull decided together that they would promote Raul to the Moto2 championship for 2021 next to Remy Gardner opening the doors for Pedro Acosta to join the team.
Many expected Raul to have a standard Moto2 rookie season, a few top 10’s here and there with maybe a shock top 5 result once or twice in the season at tracks he knew well like Catalunya and Portimao which he had raced previously in the FIM CEV. Raul had other ideas.
Over the years since the Moto2 class was born in 2010 we have seen many incredibly impressive rookies, riders who you’d know incredibly well including Marc Marquez, Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins, all three riders have gone on to win races and even championships in the premier MotoGP class.
A baby-faced Marc Marquez instantly made his name known in Moto2.
Marc Marquez had the strongest Moto2 rookie season of the three riding for his Catalunya Caixa Repsol Team, he very nearly took the Moto2 championship in his first attempt before an eye injury ruled him out of the final two races allowing German Stefan Bradl to take the title. Despite this Marquez notched up a huge 7 wins and 11 podiums in the 16 races he started taking the runners up medal as a Moto2 rookie, he adapted to the class almost instantly in a time where the races were still incredibly close and ferocious, battling riders like Thomas Luthi, Andrea Iannone, Alex De Angelis and many many more riders who have gone on to take titles or compete in MotoGP.
Maverick Vinales won his second ever Moto2 race.
Maverick Vinales was another rider who instantly adapted to the Moto2 way of life finishing in a strong P4 on his debut in Qatar after winning the Moto3 title the year previous, Vinales took his first podium and victory in only his second race at the Circuit of the Americas going on to total 4 wins and 9 podiums in 18 races very nearly finishing in second place in the championship. He would take the third-place medal at the FIM awards behind the unbeatable Marc VDS duo of Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio beating many established riders including Thomas Luthi, 2015 and 2016 champion Johann Zarco, Simone Corsi and Dominique Aegerter.
Alex Rins finished as a runner-up in his rookie season.
If we are talking quick rookies we cannot leave out Alex Rins, it would be a crime to do so, he stepped up to Moto2 in 2015 vacating the seat left by Vinales who went to Suzuki. Rins would finish the season as the class runner up finishing 3 points ahead of Tito Rabat who missed the final three races through injury. Rins racked up 2 wins and 10 podiums stomping his ex-teammate, rival and 2014 Moto3 champion Alex Marquez into the ground in an impressive display. It wasn’t enough to battle for the title given Zarco’s dominance but it was a valiant effort by the Spaniard.
Now, back to Raul Fernandez. We already know the caliber of riders he’s up against in 2021 when you look at the strength of Remy Gardner, Sam Lowes, Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Diggia and more, yet despite this he has walked into the class taking three wins and six podiums in just nine races. He currently sits in P2 in the championship and already has a 25 point advantage to Marco Bezzecchi who is third overall. Fernandez already can add his name to the list of impressive rookies which we have previously mentioned, if you look at what the rookies of the past have gone on to achieve, it’s safe to say Fernandez has a strong future ahead of him.
Featured images – Dorna Sports
Red Bull KTM Ajo