The MotoGP championship is to get an American rider once again. Joe Roberts, currently racing with the AGR team in the FIM CEV Moto2 championship, is to replace Yonny Hernandez for the next five rounds of the Moto2 World Championship. Roberts will ride the AGR Team's Kalex Moto2 machine.
Roberts starts from a strong position to replace Hernandez. The American is already familiar with most of the tracks the series will visit, having raced at them during his stint as a Red Bull Rookie. He is already familiar with the bike, having ridden it in the FIM CEV championship. That leaves only the fiercely competitive nature of the World Championship to get used to, something which has caught out other riders in the past.
Roberts is currently slated to race at the next five rounds of the Moto2 championship, doing it concurrently with the FIM CEV. That will take the team up to the flyaways, leaving speculation open as to who might race in Japan, Australia and Malaysia.
The choice of Joe Roberts is no real surprise. The youngster has long been seen as the candidate most likely to make the jump to the MotoGP paddock. Apart from his background, Roberts has shown the talent to succeed. Roberts won the MotoAmerica Superstock 600 title in 2015, and has already had two podiums in the FIM CEV Moto2 championship. For a fuller profile of Roberts, see this interview with the American by Andrea Wilson over on Sport Rider.
The press release from the AGR Team appears below:
Joe Roberts: The rider from California will replace Yonny Hernández
The Moto2 Argiñano & Ginés Racing Team has news for the second half of the World Championship season. The Team Management decided to replace Colombian Yonny Hernández as the official rider in Moto2 with one of our FIMCEV Repsol riders, Joe Roberts.
The American rider (Los Angeles, 16/6/1997) made his debut this year with our team in the European Championship and quickly got to grips with the Kalex and the class. Former 600cc Champion in his home country, he has achieved two podiums at the FIMCEV, and only some physical problems prevented him from getting even better results (he is 5th overall).
In a World Championship with no USA riders, Joe Roberts also arrives to cover that position and, for now, he will have 5 weekends to learn new circuits and the pace of the best in the world. It will not be an easy second half of the year for Roberts, as he will combine both Championships. Thinking about it, it might be a way to gather experience.
The AGR team thanks Yonny Hernández for all his efforts during his return to Moto2. His professionalism will be remembered.
Joe Roberts: “I was surprised to get this opportunity so soon. It’s been my dream, ever since I was a little kid to race in the World Championship and I was hoping for next year to get an opportunity so for me to get it this year is amazing. My expectations are basically to keep learning as much as possible and hopefully make some big steps riding with these amazing riders, some of the best riders in the world. If I can come in and learn some more and keep improving with my riding, that would be amazing. From the start of this year till now I’ve learnt so much about this bike and the team seems quite happy with the way I’m progressing. The best thing is to keep that going and we’ll see what happens. Thank you to everyone in the team for giving me this amazing opportunity. It’s a dream come true.”
Iker Burutxaga, Team Manager: “We’re very happy to have Joe Roberts with us for this second half of the World Championship. After his performances in the first few races of the FIMCEV Repsol, we considered that he was knocking on the Championship’s door. We think he’s a rider that has a high enough level to be among the best and that the earlier he takes that step, will be better for all. We are looking forward to seeing him compete with the best riders in the class. He will obviously need an adaptation period, and he’ll need to work very hard at the beginning, but we trust his talent and we believe he’ll be able to give us some good results. Of course, we want to thank Yonny Hernández for the job he has done during the first half of the year and we wish him the best of luck in his future projects”.