Before preparing to leave his native California, Cameron Beaubier needed to find a new base to call home between one world championship round and the next. The multiple MotoAmerica title winner has arrived in Europe, ready for the Moto2 season and a return to a paddock he already got to know ten years ago.
The 28-year old tells us why he has chosen Spain as his strategic base ahead of his 2021 adventure with the American Team: “I’m moving to Barcelona – he comments – because that airport is convenient for trips to and from California. From there, I can decide whether to leave from Sacramento or San Francisco, and easily land in the Catalan capital. I lived there back in my Red Bull Academy days, in 2008, and again in 2009 when I was in 125. The climate is also similar to that of California, ideal for training with the bike and in the open air. And I even like the local food, so I know I’ll get on well there”.
It’s been a long while. How well do you remember 2009?
“It was a very tough 125 season. I was only 16, little more. I was anything but an expert and had loads to learn. The opportunity to race with KTM was huge, and then I had a guy like Marc Marquez as my team-mate. But it was difficult, even things that seem insignificant. Like where to stay, where to do outside of the circuit, getting used to habits so different to American ones. I was young. Who knows, maybe if I’d been able to gain experience in 2010, it might have become easier. It was what it was anyway, there’s no point having regrets, as I’m now heading back to where I started”.
Your 2021 season began with the Jerez test of last November.
“I hadn’t ridden at Jerez since 2009, a 125 two-stroke, but I immediately recalled the direction of the track (he laughs). In Andalusia I focused on understanding the many new elements, both bike and team. Track conditions weren’t perfect, as I lapped in the wet on day one and on day two it only dried out towards the afternoon. Lap times weren’t the best I could do, but it was an important test, coming before the winter break”.
You’re going from the R1 Superbike to the Triumph-powered Kalex. Are they very different?
“Yes, of course, the Kalex I rode at Jerez was very different to the R1 Superbike I rode for years in MotoAmerica. I was positively impressed by my new bike, because it was lighter and more powerful that I’d imagined it would be. The frame is stiff and extremely reactive, it’s like a prototype project. I was surprised how much drive the bike has out of the turn. The Triumph three-cylinder has impressive torque and the weight/power ratio is similar to that of the Yamaha R1, but it doesn’t rip your arm every time you accelerate. I know I have a long road ahead, as I need to learn the tracks, the settings and many other important things”.
Capitan America makes a change: Wayne Rainey’s advice
Why has Cameron decided to leave MotoAmerica after such success? Why didn’t he do it before? He explains the reasons behind his return to Europe: "This Moto2 challenge marks a new chapter in my career as a rider. I want the sensation of experiencing something new, fresh. I’ve won a lot back home with Yamaha. Six championships in all, one in 600 and five in Superbike. A great experience, fantastic. But I wanted to compete in a world championship. I’ve wanted it for three years, maybe in SBK, but eh right opportunity didn’t present itself. Then I got the chance with American Racing, and I realised that SBK wasn’t the only way to return to racing in Europe. I’m excited and happy and cannot wait to pack my bags and set off”.
Has Wayne Rainey given you any advice before you leave?
“I’m still able to ask him for advice. Throughout my career I’ve respected and looked up to Wayne, having him with me for years and listening to my suggestions has been amazing, extremely valuable. It’s incredible what Rainey’s done with MotoAmerica. His aim was to get American riders back on the world stage and he’s done that with Joe Roberts, Garrett Gerloff, and now me. I think he’s so cool. I know we have many strong riders in America but people don’t see them. I also know his work is starting to pay off. I am just one example”.
You seem really motivated.
“I am, very much. Both from a sporting and human standpoint. I often think it would be great to see people I haven’t seen since 2009. Who know show they’ve changed or where they live, maybe Europe, maybe their native countries. I will represent America in the world championship. Something that motivated me to choose Moto2 was seeing Joe Roberts and Garrett Gerloff waving the stars and stripes in the respective championships. That moved me and I decided I wanted to do the same”.
Gerloff on Rossi’s MotoGP bike: good job, Garrett!
In the European GP, Garrett Gerloff briefly stood in for Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha Monster Energy team. Despite the Texan not knowing the M1, the Michelin tyres, the carbon brakes or the Valencia track, he did well. Beaubier was his team-mate back in the USA: “He did so well. Garrett was immediately quick, despite getting on the Yamaha MotoGP for the first time. The track conditions were terrible for a debut too, but he did great. I’ve known Gerloff for a long time, we lived together, I know how talented he is, so his performance in WorldSBK didn’t surprise me, and neither did his speed with Valentino’s M1”.
This year will see Gerloff fight for the title and a place in MotoGP: you too?
“Yes, and he’s right to do so. I too would like to reach MotoGP, that’s every riders aim, and mine too. We’re talking about the top class, what everybody wants. I want that. But, at the same time, I’m not looking too far ahead and prefer to focus on the present honestly. If an opportunity to race in the top class presents itself, I’d be in seventh heaven. But first I have to do well in Moto2 and keep a grip on reality. I want to avoid daydreaming and predictions”.
In 2009, could you have predicted Marquez’s future success?
“I already knew Marc was very strong. Our KTM definitely wasn’t the best bike on the grid, Aprilia and Derbi were much more competitive, and yet little Marquez reached the podium twice between 2008 and 2009. Incredible. I remember thinking “how can this Spaniard be so fast?”. He was amazing from a young age. Then he continued to grow and learn, becoming so impressive. His way of riding fast, crashing and getting back up even quicker than before is incredible”.
Might we see you’ll be racing in the same championship in 2022?
“Oh man. One thing at a time, my friend. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Not in terms of time or space. I have memories of some of the tracks, let’s see if I remember them well. My aim is to gain experience, score good results and have fun. Let me enjoy my return to the world championship, then I’ll think about the steps to take and the rivals to face. I come back to Europe with the desire to grow as a rider and a person, everything else will be a happy discovery”.
Translated by Heather Watson