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By Cycle News

Why did Roberts turn down a 2021 MotoGP™ move?

The American rider was offered an Aprilia ride for next season but chose to stay in Moto2™ with Champions Italtrans Racing Team

Chatting to American sports publication Cycle News, Moto2™’s Joe Roberts has explained why he turned down the chance to move to MotoGP™ with Aprilia Racing Team Gresini for 2021.

After Andrea Iannone was handed a four-year ban, Aprilia needed to find a teammate for Aleix Espargaro. With Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow deciding against the idea – the former taking a sabbatical and the British rider opting for a Yamaha test role – the Noale factory turned their attentions to the Moto2™ paddock. 2020 title contender Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) was the name first in line, but a deal with the young Italian never came to fruition.

Then, across the three days in Portimao, Roberts became Aprilia’s chosen rider for the one remaining MotoGP™ grid slot. In the end though, the American chose to turn down a ride on the RS-GP in 2021 and stay with Italtrans Racing Team – the current Moto2™ World Champions. Speaking to Cycle News, Roberts explains why.


“To be honest there are a couple of things which is why I decided not to go in that direction,” said the American star. “One of the reasons was I haven’t won a race yet. If I went to MotoGP I’d be racing riders that have won races, won titles, and are top riders. They’re the best in the world. Not to say that I wouldn’t be able to ride with them, but for me, the mental side to go there is really important. As a rider, it’s important you understand how to win races. I remember obviously on a smaller scale when I was winning races in America, the confidence I had going into the season just knowing I could win was so crucial, you know? That’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay, to be ready 100 percent.

“Also, the fact that I had already signed a contract with Italtrans. To be honest, if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. It was so late in the season that if I were to break a contract, it really wouldn’t have been good for them. Also, I saw both opportunities as really great ones. Italtrans has just won the Moto2 World Championship. Just spending the day with them yesterday (Tuesday) at Jerez and working together, man, the confidence they have right now after coming out of a Championship (win) is so nice to be around.

“Working with Giovanni Sandi [crew chief for 2021] on the first day, and the whole crew, it was pretty awesome. We got on really well. The first feelings were that everyone was really happy and almost celebrating we are working together. Me and the team, we all think we have such a good chance to be fighting for the championship next year. It’s really exciting. I’m so excited to go to Qatar. It’s one of my favourite tracks after this year. Everyone knows Moto2 is one of the hardest Championships in the world. It’s not going to be an easy thing but I think we have a great chance next year.”

Since the Algarve International Circuit curtain closer, Aprilia have confirmed that Bradley Smith and Lorenzo Savadori have both been signed up for 2021. The British and Italian riders will both complete pre-season testing at the start of the campaign, before one of them is chosen to line-up alongside Aleix Espargaro full-time.

Head across to Cycle News to read Roberts’ full quotes.

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