Reaction: Ruben Fernandez to MXGP!
Jonathan McCready: This was a win/win really for Ruben Fernandez and Honda. Ruben could have stayed in MX2 on what by all accounts is an impressive new 250 machine with the expectation of winning races or, strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of the opportunity to move up to the toughest class in the world to compete with the best motocross riders on the planet. Racing the MXGP class is lifelong dream for any rider to achieve, and with Ruben having a good package behind him to go racing at the highest level of the sport at this moment in time, it’s hard to say no!
For Honda it would have been nice to have Ruben lead the launch of the new Honda in MX2 but when you have the opportunity to race a 450 in MXGP and you are coming off some very, very impressive performances at the end of the season in the class, it’s easy to understand why Ruben is moving up – especially as he has the comfort of staying with the 114 Motosport Honda team. The 450 Honda is proven and Ruben is now proven on it, he seems to suit the bigger machine really well and it means with Boisrame and Renaux also moving up from MX2 plus Honda getting the benefit of the returning Mitch Evans, the class is certainly being filled with new blood following the departure of a legend like Cairoli plus Strijbos and Simpson.
Bringing in Hakon Fredriksen in MX2 is also a good move, yes he is a rookie but as we saw at the end of the EMX250 season if you give the Norwegian a bike he trusts he can fly and if they can get the promising young rider out of the gate in MX2 I expect him to turn a few heads this season.
All in all, it’s an exciting development to see how both riders will get on in their new classes and the bottom line is Ruben has earned this opportunity with how well he rode at Mantova at the end of 2021 as well has some brilliant rides on his 250 Honda. MXGP will have an aggressive, hungry new rider who is intimidated by no-one joining the ranks next season, and that will be an exciting addition to keep an eye on for the fans while Honda will have an increased presence next season with Fernandez and the returning Evans both capable of racing at the sharp end along with Honda’s main man, Tim Gajser.
Andy McKinstry: After being thrown into the deep end at the end of the 2021 season and racing the MXGP World Championship with very little prep, Ruben Fernandez certainly turned a few heads at Mantova with his results of sixth and eighth overall. With a full winters preparation behind him you’d think he’ll be ever better in 2022 and there’s no doubt that he looks to suit the bigger bike more than the 250cc.
However, Fernandez had a strong season in MX2 despite an injury which hindered his championship position but he still stood on the podium in MX2 five times. Another season in MX2 might not have been such a bad thing as he had the tools to be a consistent podium guy in the class – will we see him on the podium in MXGP in 2022? It’ll be incredibly difficult but never say never.
It’s nice to see Honda run three riders in the MXGP class – they’ve a very strong line up with Gajser, Evans and now Fernandez in the class. Livia Lancelot has done a good job with the 114 Motorsports Honda team contesting the MX2 World Championship up until this point and I feel Hakon Fredriksen is a strong signing as well – perhaps another rider that suits the 450cc more than the 250cc but a year racing MX2 will be just what he needs to gain experience.
I’d have quite liked to have seen the team run two riders in the MX2 World Championship as I feel that the Honda 250cc is at a good level now and it would have been nice to see two riders in red run towards the sharp end. Fredriksen should be strong but the challenge might be getting him out of the gate but if he can manage that there’s no reason why he can’t be a consistent top ten rider in his rookie season.
Despite signing a two year deal, it looks like Joel Rizzi won’t be with the team for the 2022 season so it remains to be seen what he does but hopefully we can see him race the EMX250 series.
Going back to Fernandez I just hope for his sake he gets the results needed next year to keep his ride for the 2023 season – we’ve already saw Watson lose his Factory Yamaha rider after his rookie season although thankfully Kawasaki swopped in to snap him up. The last thing Fernandez will want after the 2022 season is to be scrambling to secure a ride and in MXGP, that can so easily happen after one bad/injury affected season.
Having said that, Fernandez has plenty of potential and if he rides the way he ended this season in Mantova he should turn plenty of heads in the MXGP class. Spain could be very strong at the MXoN in the future with Fernandez and Prado helping the sport grow in Spain which is always a positive for the sport.
Image: InFront Moto Racing