Raul Fernandez joins Gardner at Tech3 - Petrucci, Lecuona out

Raul Fernandez confirmed as a 2022 Tech3 KTM rider alongside Remy Gardner, meaning no room for current riders Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona.
Raul Fernandez, Remy Gardner, Moto2 race, Dutch MotoGP, 27 June 2021
Raul Fernandez, Remy Gardner, Moto2 race, Dutch MotoGP, 27 June 2021
© Gold and Goose

It's been officially confirmed that Moto2 rookie star Raul Fernandez will move to MotoGP alongside current Ajo team-mate Remy Gardner at Tech3 KTM next season.

The young Spaniard's deal means both of Tech3's current riders, Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, are not only out of the team but almost certainly out of MotoGP at the end of this season.

When Moto2 title leader Gardner's MotoGP deal was confirmed in early June, Fernandez seemed likely to spend another season in the intermediate class.

However, by the summer break, Fernandez had equalled Gardner's tally of three race wins, alongside six podiums and four pole positions from nine rounds and has decided to join the likes of Joan Mir in spending just a single year in the Moto2 class.

A mistake at Sachsenring means Fernandez starts the second half of the Moto2 season in Austria this weekend needing to overhaul a 31-point deficit to Gardner, before both step-up to the four-time MotoGP race winning RC16.

“Honestly, I’m really pleased with this opportunity from KTM, as much for this year as for the next. I’ve been learning a lot and enjoying Moto2 and was able to get into a position where I have this chance to enter MotoGP and for which I’m very grateful: it’s the dream of any rider to arrive to this class," Fernandez said.

"Right now, the most important thing is to keep focusing on this season and giving all I have up until the last race to try and fight for the championship. If it doesn’t work out then fine, everything happens for a reason, and you have to look towards the positives. I’ve been a rookie this year and I want to close the chapter and then start again for 2022 where I’ll be looking to find a good feeling on the bike and, above all, aiming to enjoy myself.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director added: "We all know that Raul is an outstanding talent. His jump from Moto3 to Moto2 had some question marks but he showed repeatedly that he is an excellent rider on the bigger bike, which was our original thought and hope because he was quite tall for Moto3. Going to MotoGP so quickly wasn’t part of the initial plan but he has demonstrated that he has the potential."

"I think it’s going to be a very exciting 2022 season with the two of the brightest talents of the Moto2 category moving to the premier class," said Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal. " Even though it will be their rookie season, I’m quite sure they will quickly learn and after a few races show their potential in the MotoGP as well.

"Raul has had an unbelievable first part of his rookie Moto2 season, something that has not been achieved in a long time.

"Although we are very pleased with this announcement we know we still have half a season to go with our current riders, Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, which I want to thank for their dedication and their never-ending constructive attitude, and, we clearly wish them well and best of luck for the future.”

The all-new Tech3 line-up comes at the expense of Lecuona and Petrucci, who until recently had seemed to be battling for the remaining ride.

Petrucci arguably had the strongest case for a renewal. Being new to the team and bike this season meant that the double Ducati race winner (like Pol Espargaro and class rookies Enea Bastianini, Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini) was worst hit by the scrapping of the usual winter testing programme due to the Covid restrictions.

Apart from a general lack of familiarity with the RC16, it also meant Petrucci has struggled with top speed due to an aerodynamics package that appears not suited to his size.

The Italian, 30, has taken Tech3's best finish so far this season with fifth in the wet at Le Mans while equalling Lecuona's high of ninth in the dry.

While a 2022 MotoGP seat now looks unlikely, Petrucci would be highly valued in World Superbike, where the likes of former Pramac team-mate Scott Redding (another rider who struggled with his height and corresponding weight in MotoGP) is a leading contender.

For Lecuona, 21, who has spent two seasons with Tech3, the obvious move would be a return to the Moto2 class, where he had claimed just one podium before being picked out by KTM in the aftermath of Johann Zarco's 2019 departure.

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