The Australian rider had to dig deep into himself last year to be crowned Moto2 against an opponent no one expected at this level: his own team-mate.
A decade. It wasn’t more or less than ten long years before Australia once again placed one of its subjects at the top of the Grand Prix hierarchy. So the last time was in 2011, with Casey Stoner’s second crowning in MotoGP, on behalf of Honda (the first was achieved in 2007 with Ducati).
In 2021 it was finally the eldest son of Wayne Gardner (500cc world champion in 1987), Remy, who took over in the Moto2 category. Still, the young Australian, who turns 24 next month, less than two weeks before the start of the new season, was not exactly aiming for the title around this time last year.
No view of the championship at the start of the season
It must be said that at the time he only had one success to show off his record, and again, the latter recently won in the final of the 2020 season, in Portimão, Portugal. Arriving in Moto2 in 2016, so much to say the Aussie took the time to make its hole, but with the Ajo team’s almighty KTM, it had the ultimate weapon to go for the coronation even if it wasn’t . therefore not one of his first intentions in early 2021. “I started the season on the same basis as in 2020, i.e. finish the races and get the maximum number of points”, Remy Gardner explained to the official MotoGP website. “I approached the season with the desire to do the races one after the other, without even having the championship in mind. “
However, he had to face the facts as he won three consecutive races at Mugello, Catalonia and the Sachsenring, finishing the first half of the season well ahead of team-mate Raúl Fernández. A string of wins that led Gardner to revise his ambitions upwards, while realizing that his biggest opponent was undoubtedly in the garage next door. “I think our first part of the season was great, but as we got closer to the end of the season, the points really started to count.”, the reigning intermediate category champion resumes. “Mostly because Raúl had very strong races, and then we really started thinking about the championship, but it was his case too. “
A threat called Fernández
It is true that Fernández, who in turn discovered the intermediate category this year, was immediately in the game and posed a real threat after the intermediate season. So the young Spaniard has gained momentum in the final rounds, racking up victories and even going so far as to establish himself as a credible title contender, especially when Gardner failed, say in Austin. ‘The only mistake I really regretted was in Austin’, admits the Australian, who believes his abandonment in Texas was a rescue and allowed him to re-mobilize for the final tests. “Obviously it was a difficult moment for me to accept in the perspective of the championship, but I think I managed to control my nerves and right after the accident I was still able to get up and go forward. Anyway, it was necessary, because there were only three races to go and nothing was actually lost. So I fought harder than ever. I then managed to widen the gap again.”
Mainly on account of his first win in the category, in the Algarve, where he again won to present a whopping 23 points ahead of his teammate at the start of the final race of the season in Valence. “During the Portuguese Grand Prix, tire choice and the fact that we kept very calm during the event were crucial factors”Gardner, who was still in pain from his fall on the COTA, explains. “In that sense, Portimão was really decisive for me this year. I had to keep my cool while my ribs still hurt. Despite that, I managed to get a win that was arguably one of the most important this season. “
A win that therefore allowed him to benefit from a comfortable mattress as the season finale approached, leaving him free to roll his hand to finish the event in tenth place, while his rival posted his eighth success of the year. Enough to win the stake and the title, at the end of a year that will have been abundant to teach about him. “Obviously there were some very stressful times, and I have to say there were times when it was really tough mentally. But in the end, we must not dwell on the mistakes that may have been made, we must use them to make progress. I think I’ve learned a lot about this this year, especially how to deal with the pressure, especially from Raúl. I think this is a skill that I will be able to reuse in the future, both in MotoGP and in other areas. ”
Gardner and Fernández, from Moto2 rivals to MotoGP partners
Only four unfortunate points separated Gardner from Fernández at the end of the season. But despite the importance of the stakes, the two men managed to respect each other until the end and it is also together that they will make their debut in the premier league this year, within the Tech3 team.
An unforgettable moment
– MotoGP™ 🏁 (@MotoGP) Nov 18, 2021
The most important thing for the two acolytes will then be more to learn than to really get out of the way, while the first tests, held in Jerez at the end of November, left the Australian, who suffered a serious fall on the first day, back in pain. caused his ribs. However, there is nothing to curb his enthusiasm when it comes to starting in MotoGP: “I can’t wait to make my debut in the category, although of course there is a lot to learn. I also think we should keep an eye on Raúl because he should be very fast. We’re going to push each other to the limit at KTM, and I hope we can have a good season because of that on machines that throw it away. “