Josh Herrin’s difficult debut year in Moto2 has come to a premature end. The AirAsia Caterham Moto2 team today announced that from the Misano round of MotoGP, Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot will take the place of the 24-year-old Californian.
Wilairot is currently riding in the World Supersport championship for the Core PTR Honda team, but the remaining WSS schedule will allow the Thai rider to compete in both series. Wilairot already subbed for Herrin when the American broke his collarbone in a training accident back in April.
Wilairot is no stranger to Moto2, having competed in the class from its inception in 2010, and in the 250cc class it replaced before that. The Thai rider was forced out of Moto2 in the middle of last season, when he lost support of his sponsors in the Gresini team mid-season.
As for Josh Herrin, the American has struggled throughout his time in Moto2. The reigning AMA Superbike champion has found it hard to adapt to the Dunlops used in Moto2, which, in combination with the stiffness and adjustibility of a Moto2 chassis, require a totally different riding style and allow the rider to brake much further into the corner.
The depth and competitiveness of the field have also presented a huge challenge: in a class where fourteen or fifteen riders are all within a second of each other, it is easy to slip a long way down the grid by losing just a couple of tenths.
Coming in to Moto2 as reigning AMA Superbike champion only served to raise the pressure on the American, and created expectations it was hard to live up to. Those expectations were made even tougher by the ease with which reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes and Moto3 champ Maverick Viñales adapted to the class.
The departure of Herrin means there will not be a single American on the Grand Prix grid at Misano, a low point for US racing.
Many insiders believed that Herrin was the wrong rider to make the switch to Grand Prix racing, with both US and Grand Prix experts preferring to see either Cameron Beaubier or Jake Gagne back in the Grand Prix paddock.
Both riders know the circuits, having raced in both the Red Bull Rookies and, in Beaubier’s case, in 125s back in 2009. Herrin got the call as he was available, unlike Beaubier, and could attract a certain amount of financial support for the team.
Source: Caterham Racing; Photo: © 2014 Scott Jones / Photo.GP – All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.