You’ll have probably heard the news that Jake Dixon, former BSB runner-up, will be making his MotoGP debut this weekend at the British GP at Silverstone. That’s right, after what’s looked like a difficult half-season on a Moto2 bike, the lad from Dover’s stepping up into the big leagues (as if Moto2 wasn’t big-league enough) for a round; and I, for one, am thrilled about it. And I’ll tell you why.
First of all, in case you’re wondering what’s going on, let me shed some light on it. It’s all a bit ‘musical chairs’ in Yamaha’s MotoGP setup at the moment; you’ve got Morbidelli out with injury, and Viñales has just been sacked. So Cal Crutchlow, who was riding Morbidelli’s Petronas Yamaha, is now riding Viñales’ old Monster Yamaha. That means there’s a Petronas Yamaha going begging, which is the one Jake’s going to ride… are you keeping up?
That means Jake’s teammate for his premier class debut is none other than Valentino Rossi. That’s fairly cool, isn’t it? Something to tell the grandkids.
But is he the right person to put on the bike? Well I think so, yes. For a few reasons. First of all, he’s not really anywhere in the Moto2 standings (19th), after a few DNFs and a handful of non-points scoring finishes. Missing a round isn’t going to hurt. There’ll also be all sorts of sponsorship and financial reasons to pluck Jake DIxon out of Moto2 for a round; to start with he’s already part of the Petronas Sprinta Sepang Racing Team, so there’ll be very few contractual issues or conflicts of interest as far as sponsors are concerned. There’s also the fact that Dorna (the MotoGP organisers) are bound to get a massive hardon over an extra Brit racing in the premier class at Silverstone.
But aside from all that administrative stuff, is he the best ‘rider’ for the job? Well I know only time will tell, but I’m going to say yes. Because I don’t think there will be any other people in the Moto2 class that have spent as long racing ‘big bikes’ as Jake. And by ‘big bikes’ I mean superbikes, which I know are completely different to MotoGP bikes, but they’re still ‘big’. And he proved to be a proper talent on a Superbike. A race winner in BSB, finishing second to Leon Haslam in the 2018 championship; a top ten finisher (9th) during a wildcard appearance at WSBK at Donnington. Perhaps he’s better suited to a bigger, faster bike?
I know some will say, looking at his results so far in 2021, he’s not ready for a MotoGP ride. But I think he is. We saw from his results at the end of last year that he is one of the best riders in Moto2. And I know he hasn’t matched that this year, but there are a million possible reasons that could be.
The only issue I have with this, is that he’ll be riding a bike that doesn’t really have much pedigree. Nobody’s really been able to do anything on Morbidelli’s bike this year, and they’ve all taken his absolute-slag-of-a-bike for a ride. Gerloff’s had a go, Crutchlow’s had a go, none of them have scored a point. Even Morbidelli himself has struggled, with as many finishes outside the points, as in the points. And this is Morbidelli we’re talking about, a man that won three MotoGP races last year.
So although I’m really pleased Jake Dixon is getting the chance to experience a MotoGP bike, I’m not going to hold my breath for a stunning result; only because I don’t know what the bike is really capable of. But maybe it’ll rain. If it does, maybe Jake will do something special. I’ll be watching every session this weekend. Go on Jake, let ‘em have it, son.