EXCLUSIVE: ‘Very difficult’ to say Skinner is Britain’s next MotoGP hope - Lowes

While an extremely talented rider, Sam Lowes has doubts about whether Rory Skinner can become Britain’s next MotoGP star, mainly because the ‘step’ from domestic racing to Grand Prix is ‘massive’.
Rory Skinner, Kawasaki British Superbike
Rory Skinner, Kawasaki British Superbike

A MotoGP rider in 2017 with Aprilia, and now a consistent challenger for race wins in Moto2, Lowes has and continues to compete at the highest level and against the very best motorcycle riders in the world. 

Since Cal Crutchlow retired from racing at the end of 2020, the UK has not had a rider in MotoGP. 

Jake Dixon made two appearances for Petronas Yamaha in 2021 after replacing an injured Franco Morbidelli, but with both Lowes and Dixon appearing to be out of contention for a MotoGP seat going forward, it begs the question who could become Britain’s next premier class rider. 

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Scott Ogden has been one of the better Moto3 rookies this season and looks to have a bright future ahead of him, however, the young Brit is a long way away from even being touted as a MotoGP rider. 

Success in the form of wins or championships will need to be had in both Moto3 and Moto2, while gaining the experience to match will be vital for the Visiontrack rider. 

While he’s not currently racing in the Grand Prix paddock, Skinner has a potential pathway into Moto2 that could make him the most likely option of being Britain’s next MotoGP star. 

The FS-3 Kawasaki rider, who is managed by former MotoGP podium finisher and current American Racing Team Director, John Hopkins, has emerged as a 2022 title contender in BSB .

Speaking before a double wildcard appearance in Moto2 was confirmed for Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring in Austria (August), Hopkins said this about the BSB rider: "He’s a huge talent, an unbelievable talent. He’s currently racing in British Superbike with FS-3 Kawasaki and although that’s his primary focus and winning that championship, we’re trying to make a deal to have him as a wildcard this season. 

"We’ve been working to try and do it at the home round. His ultimate goal is to come to Grand Prix racing and we’re trying to facilitate that.

"I personally believe Rory Skinner will be Britain's next competitive MotoGP racer. I'm just trying to help him get there!"

Lowes not so keen to crown Skinner as Britain’s next MotoGP hope

While Lowes agreed that Skinner has a lot of talent, stepping into Moto2 for any rider, but especially one who hasn’t come through Moto3 is ‘very difficult’. 

Sam Lowes, Jake Dixon, Moto2, Dutch MotoGP 25 June
Sam Lowes, Jake Dixon, Moto2, Dutch MotoGP 25 June

In an exclusive chat with Crash.net, Lowes said: "He’s obviously doing very well and doing a good job in BSB. He’s been impressive in some races. But I think it’s very difficult. 

"It’s very difficult to say that and the level in this paddock is very, very high. There are a lot of young riders who have always come through the rookies [cup] and then gone in Moto3. I know Rory’s done a bit of that before but it’s just difficult, it’s complicated. 

"I think Ogden is doing a great job in Moto3 and that’s something to be proud of. Maybe [we should] be looking in that direction. To come into this paddock now is very, very difficult. Maybe Rory can do a good job, I like him, he’s a good guy and is doing a nice job in BSB. 

"But the level and step [Grand Prix] is massive. Hopefully he gets a nice chance on a good bike and can see how it goes. I think it’s difficult to say he’s the next hope for British racing."

Potentially helping Skinner in his bid to move from BSB to the MotoGP paddock could be his age, as the Scottish rider is only 20 years-old. However, it’s a move Lowes believes would need to happen very quickly in order to not be overlooked.

"Whether it’s right or wrong - probably wrongly in my view - if you’re not already here fighting for victories in your early 20s then you’ve sort of missed the boat," Continued Lowes. 

"In my opinion that’s wrong but it’s the way they seem to be going about it. Also, in the next few years with sponsors; the way the world is going it’s difficult, that’s why it’s great to see Michael [Laverty] doing his thing with the British team. 

"I hope Rory does get a good opportunity and a good team and I'm sure he will do well. But it’s a big ask to jump in. I’ve heard he could do a wildcard - it’s very difficult to turn up at Silverstone on a bike you’ve not ridden much and then do yourself justice." 

A full pre-season ‘would be better’ than wildcard appearances, says Lowes

"It would be better if you had pre-season testing to then show himself in a good light. I hope he gets a chance and I know John [Hopkins] is managing him.  

John Hopkins, Moto2, Austrian MotoGP, 15 August
John Hopkins, Moto2, Austrian MotoGP, 15 August

"There’s also the weather over the weekend, you might not get very many laps and so it’s very difficult. It’s also not fair to judge a rider when they’ve been riding a Superbike and then jump on a Moto2 bike. 

"Sometimes it’s great to have the opportunity but if he’s looking [at Moto2] and has the chance to go into Moto2 in the future, then you’re nearly better off doing the winter, the testing and doing the work to show yourself [more effectively]. But for any rider to race in the British Grand Prix is hard to say no."

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