Moto2 is hotting up to have an explosive end to the championship battle.
It’s not over until the fat lady sings as they say! The Moto2 championship was Remy Gardner’s to lose going into the AmericanGP with a lead of 34 points, four races left and an impeccable record of just one crash all season long in all sessions. Despite this advantage racing never fails to throw a spanner in the works and Remy Gardner is no exception to this rule despite his clean sheet of zero DNF’s in 2021.
Remy Gardner has been the man to watch all year long in Moto2 and very quickly was able to establish himself as a title contender taking eight podiums in the opening nine races of the season, however for Remy he has also been gifted with a rather fast teammate. Gardner’s experience has been working in tandem with the hunger of Raul Fernandez which has seamlessly expedited the adaptation process of the young Spaniard into the brutal class despite the huge differences to Moto3. For Raul it was expected he would be fast very early on but never to hit the ground running as quickly as he did winning his first Moto2 race in the third round at Portimao, a track he won at the previous year in Moto3.
Since then both riders have dominated sessions and race weekends taking consistent 1-2’s across most sessions including finishing races in the top two positions six times so far, these results would turn into championship points which would firmly plant both riders at the top of the championship standings, Remy leading the way after opening up a 30+ point lead following DNF’s from Raul Fernandez in Germany and Silverstone allowing the Australian rider to relax a little knowing the title battle was firmly in his favour.
Both riders have immense respect for one another.
The odds would tip even further in the favour of Gardner when Fernandez was diagnosed with a metacarpal fracture following a training accident on the eve of the Aragon Grand Prix, at the time he was trailing Gardner by 44 points in the championship, seemingly enough to put a lid on the championship and hand it over to Remy. Fernandez however wasn’t going to give up, he knew there was a chance to win the title still despite the points deficit and the broken hand and would grit his teeth and ride through the pain, during the Aragon practice sessions he could barely complete five consecutive laps meaning the race and championship were majorly in doubt.
This is what separates us mortal humans from motorcycle racers, for Raul the thought of losing the championship was too much and despite the crippling pain from his hand he would go out and race at Aragon, fuelled by adrenaline he would pull off a stunning victory to take five points from his teammate, completing the same feat just seven days later at Misano to cut the title lead to 34 points, it was within reach with 100 points to play for.
Remy knew he had to strike back at COTA, he was armed with Moto2 track knowledge and a good hand whereas Raul had only ever raced there once in his third appearance as a Moto3 rookie back in 2019 meaning his knowledge of the circuit was incredibly limited, yet somehow against all odds yet again he would pull out an incredible performance from seemingly nowhere and led FP1, FP2, FP3, qualified on pole position, led the warm-up and then went out and won the race to eat further into Gardner’s title lead bringing it to 29 points if Gardner finished in second. For Remy however the cards were dealt out of his favour and he suffered a crash which has had a devastating affect on his title chances, his crash during the race would be his first DNF of the season and only his second crash in all sessions as fortune favoured the brave Fernandez.
The chase was on in America.
This DNF for Gardner accompanied by victory for his teammate has swayed the title in favour of Fernandez despite having a nine-point deficit on the experienced Australian, you see there are only three races left but all three tracks are places Fernandez is exceptionally strong at. The MotoGP circus will head to Misano next time out which is where rookie Raul took victory just weeks ago before going to Portimao, the circuit he took both his first Moto3 and Moto2 victories at, a win at each would secure him 10 solid championship points over second place which would be enough to overturn the deficit into his favour and lead the championship by a minimum of one point at the season finale at Valencia provided Gardner finishes in second for both races.
Of course we can’t forget that this is Remy Gardner we are talking about, the son of 1987 500cc champion Wayne Gardner has proven consistently throughout his career that he never gives up no matter the circumstances, he has been forced to ride some terribly outdated machinery in his career including a Mahindra Moto3 bike, a two-year-old Kalex in 2016, the uncompetitive Mistral 610 Moto2 bike and even won a race at Portimao 2020 on a year old bike. He is more than capable of coming back and winning the title this year and there’s no doubt the tension will heat up between the pair race by race with some fireworks expected at Portimao with both riders having a win apiece in the Moto2 class there.
It’s not a question of talent but a question of who wants the title more, all we know is that it’s going to be a battle you cannot miss!
Featured image – Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM Media – Polarity Photo