Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 26 July 2

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 114 of 117

CN III CARRUTHERS SAYS... P116 BY PAUL CARRUTHERS WHERE HAVE THE AMERICANS GONE D o you know what Mike Baldwin, Randy Mamola, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, John Kocinski and Doug Chandler have in common besides being talented American road racers who went on to success in Grand Prix racing? All of them were fortunate to have an American in GP racing who wanted other Americans to be there, a man who wanted to guide them and try to make them World Champions. His name was Kenny Roberts. Do you know what Garrett Gerloff, Cameron Beaubier, Jake Gagne, JD Beach, James Rispoli, Jake Lewis and any other young American racer with a dream of going Grand Prix racing have in common? None of them have a chance in hell right now of living that dream. And that's a crying shame. Why? It's simple: They don't have an American team owner or an American in Grand Prix racing who is hell-bent on bringing riders to the series in an effort to crown another American World Champion. They don't have Kenny Roberts. And because of that we are a country with three MotoGPs and not much hope of being able to go to those three races to cheer for a young American racer with a chance of winning. Instead, we have Spaniards. By the dozen. As Roberts says, "What Spain has at the moment is a McDonalds of riders. They've got thousands of 'em and they just pick out two every year." And in a way, we can either give credit to or blame Roberts a little bit for that as well. "I can remember the Spanish government of Barcelona giving me like three and a half million bucks to do that school over there because they wanted a Spanish rider to be a 500cc World Champion and we did it," Roberts says of the training facility he once ran in Spain. "Alex Criville trained at the training camp and Alex Criville went out and won a World Championship. And the government changed – they had a World Champion and they didn't need to spend any more money. But that shows you how Spain feels about having a World Champion – that's how they did it." Back when Roberts ran his teams in Europe – in the years after the three successive 500cc World Championships he won as a rider – he had a program in place. There was the big team in Europe that contested the GPs (with almost always American riders) and there was some sort of team here, whether it was an AMA 250 team or a WERA Formula USA team, to hopefully find and groom the next American to take to Europe – i.e. John Kocinski. "There's no mechanism now," Roberts said. "Basically you can start in Spain when you're eight years old and you're going to be World Champion when you're 1718. They learned from us how to raise racers. Unfortunately, we don't have the mechanism to get them from Superbikes to Grand Prix. Yet." The yet comes from the hope that Roberts can one day get the mechanism back in place. He has a plan, but he needs the funding to make that happen. It's something he's been working on for years, but the word yet at least gives you hope. "You have to have a network," Roberts says. "There are people talking about it, obviously. But it needs a team here, a team there [in Europe] and a Grand Prix team that will invest in American riders. It's a tall order." So if given the opportunity, would Roberts pick an American rider over any other? "Absolutely," Roberts said. "When we ran the team… when we lost the ability to bring up younger riders, we lost the ability to win Grands Prix. That whole network that I had built up worked. When we lost the network and had to buy riders from the established riders board, it just didn't work as well. "There's plenty of talent in America that can in a year or two

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