It was with great pleasure when I saw an email from Cycle News’ MotoGP correspondent Neil Morrison that contained a news article on Cameron Beaubier’s imminent departure from American shores for the world stage in Moto2 for the America Racing Team.
Beaubier has utterly brained them in MotoAmerica this year and is clearly America’s best talent right now in a domestic sense.
He’s been helped this year by having a superlative machine underneath him, prepared by one of the best in the game, Attack Performance head honcho Richard Stamboli. But, there’s no escaping the fact the 2020 MotoAmerica Superbike season has been nothing short of a snooze-fest. Beaubier’s dominance by the middle of the season had me nodding off on the couch in the middle of Sunday afternoon, which is not good from a spectator point of view.
MotoAmerica needs unpredictability, it needs different names winning to keep fans and sponsors happy. Remember the processional late 1990s in the 500cc World Championship with Mick Doohan waking up each Sunday morning and wondering who was going to finish second? That’s what it was like this year in MotoAmerica, only with Beaubier doing the damage.
You can’t blame Cameron for his dominance. He was hired to do a job and he did it absolutely better than anyone on the grid, and he at least had the same bike as Jake Gagne, a brilliant rider who never got anywhere near Beaubier all year until right at the very end of the season. And like Doohan famously said, “What do you want me to do? Slow down?”
As obvious as it was that Beaubier had reached complete and total dominance in America, it was equally obvious his talents needed further testing. That’s the mark of great humans, those who seek to improve themselves and take on new challenges.
Beaubier’s move to the Moto2 piranha club comes with it a massive degree of uncertainty. He is leaving a series where he has a better-than-average chance of taking the wins to race on mostly unfamiliar tracks, on a new and very different bike, in lands far away from Roseville in California, and against the fastest up-and-coming riders in the world, many of them still teenagers who will sell their mom for a race victory.
Cameron has made a very respectable living racing in America—he is by far the highest paid rider in MotoAmerica (fair enough, too, considering his wins and titles), and here’s hoping he’s set himself up for what could prove some lean years as he makes tracks in arguably the most competitive championship in the world.
I’ve often said if the goal in life is to make your living from racing a motorcycle and you’re earning a great deal more racing in America than you would anywhere else, then why go? It’s what Mat Mladin did to great effect. But I’m not a champion like Cameron and possess about the same skill in my entire body as he does in his little finger. Again, challenging themselves is what champions do.
Beaubier is still young but, in racing terms, not-so-young “27-years-old,” the same age Casey Stoner was when he called it quits from MotoGP back in 2012. He’ll be 28 by the time he joins the Moto2 grid for the first race of the 2021 season, and his last stint on a Grand Prix bike was way back in 2009, when he was teammate to a certain Marc Marquez.
The age may be getting up there a little, but so, too, is his experience racing and consistently beating America’s best. He’s one of the best superbike riders in the world in any racing series and has plenty of experience in supersport racing as well.
Recently, a couple of ex-superbike stars have shown you don’t need to grow up on a diet of Moto3 and pre-Moto3 bikes to be able to make it in Grand Prix racing. Britain has a long history of dominance in superbike that stretches back to the first years of WorldSBK in the late ’80s, and this year there was a total of seven Brits on the grid in that championship, and all on factory machinery.
Yet the man who leads the Moto2 World Championship, Sam Lowes, grew up riding in the British championship on production four-strokes, showing you don’t have to come through the ultra-expensive CEV (Spanish) championship route on prototype machines to get your GP racing start. Lowes’ compatriots Cal Crutchlow and Jake Dixon are both ex-superbike stars and have paved the path for Beaubier to now follow.
Beaubier is old enough and smart enough not to get over-awed by the chance to race in Europe—he’s been there before and got spat back out—and he arrives a much sharper man than the teenager who returned home for a stellar domestic career. He’s for sure good enough to make it in GPs, and the success of Joe Roberts and in WorldSBK, his old teammate Garrett Gerloff, show the MotoAmerica talent factory is alive and kicking.
For me and I’m sure anyone with a passing interest in MotoAmerica, the 2021 Moto2 season can’t come soon enough. And for those racing in MotoAmerica next year—the king has left, so who is going to step up?CN