2014 Moto2 Rider Line Up Announced: Rabat, Luthi And Terol Favorites, High Expectations Of Lowes
The Moto2 field for next season is even better filled than the Moto3 grid, with 35 entries for 2014. Like Moto3, the two men who fought for the championship have departed, leaving the championship wide open. The departure of Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding for MotoGP leaves Tito Rabat as hot favorite for the title, after the Spaniard had challenged for most of the season. Rabat has switched from the Pons team to join Marc VDS, where he is already off to a strong start, while teammate Mika Kallio has also showed strongly in preseason testing.
Strongest of all has been Tom Luthi, the Swiss rider having topped the timesheets at the Jerez tests so far. Dark horse in the Moto2 class is surely Nico Terol, who had a very strong end to the season after finally being diagnosed with lactose intolerance, a condition which had been troubling him all year. Since his successful diagnosis, Terol won two out of five races.
The arrival of Sam Lowes has been met with much interest. Previous entrants from World Supersport have fallen short of expectations, with both Kenan Sofuoglu and Gino Rea not managing to achieve the results they had hoped for. Lowes got off to a very fast start at Jerez, however, and was quickly within a few tenths of Luthi, and right on the pace of Nico Terol. It is a long season, however, and it remains to be seen how competitive the Speed Up bike will be against the Kalex.
Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom make their debut in Moto2, and clearly have their work cut out for them. The two men were two seconds off the pace on their debut, but that is common given the huge leap from an 80kg bike to a 150kg machine, with totally different characteristics. Both Viñales and Salom have been forced to drop their numbers, as they are teammates in the Pons team, where the Spanish radio station which sponsors the team decides the race numbers to be used. That leaves Viñales racing with number 40 (the contemporary pop radio station), and Salom racing with 80 (the station playing 1980s hits).
The Spanish contingent is strongest in the Moto2 class, with 8 out of 35 riders coming from Spain. That includes two of the men tipped to take the title, but the competition is more international than it appears. Italy has 5 riders on the grid, but the big surprise is the strength of Switzerland, fielding 4 riders in Moto2. The Swiss contingent is strong, too, as it features both the proven stalwart Luthi and Domi Aegerter, who challenged at the front more and more frequently in 2013. There are also 2 Japanese riders on the grid, with Takaaki Nakagami being groomed to step up to MotoGP, though he will have to find more consistency than he did in 2013. The rest of the field is varied: 2 British riders, 2 Frenchmen, 3 German riders, and 2 Malaysians, while Australia, Belgium, Finland, Thailand and the USA all have one rider each. Josh Herrin is the lone American in Moto2, having made the leap after winning the 2014 AMA Superbike championship.
The depth of riders from Asia is gratifying, especially given their competitiveness. Nakagami should be able to fight for race wins this year, and even play a role in the championship, while Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin has already had some impressive results in his wildcard appearances.
The 2014 Moto2 rider line up
|Tuenti HP 40 Pons|
|Idemitsu Honda Asia|
|22||Sam Lowes||GBR||Speed Up|
|88||Alessandro Nocco||ITA||Speed Up|
|Federal Oil Gresini|
|La Fonte Tasca|
|15||Alex De Angelis||ITA||Suter|
|95||Anthony West||AUS||Speed Up|
|To be confirmed||Speed Up|
|23||Marcel Schrotter||GER||Tech 3|
|92||Alex Mariñelarena||SPA||Tech 3|
|Argiñano & Ginés|
|To be confirmed||Kalex|
|Stop and Go|