For the first time in nearly 20 years, a top-level grand prix will start with no U.S. riders
When I wrote in May that we could soon see a MotoGP race with no U.S. riders, I was thinking "soon" meant 2015, after Colin Edwards' retirement and if Nicky Hayden's severely damaged wrist led to a forced early retirement. Little did I know that "soon" would turn out to be August 17.
Edwards told Superbikeplanet.com that he will be only riding selected races for the rest of the season and won't be at the Czech Republic round. Italian web sites have reported that Alex de Angelis, who filled in last year at the U.S. Red Bull Grand Prix at Laguna Seca for the injured Ben Spies and finished a respectable 11th, will replace Edwards at several remaining rounds. Edwards has only scored eight points this season, while his young teammate, Aleix Espargaró, has 77 points and is in sixth place in the standings. Meanwhile, Hayden will miss the Indianapolis and Brno races while he tries to recover from yet another operation on the bones in his right wrist.
The last time there was a MotoGP or 500cc motorcycle grand prix without a U.S. rider was in 1995, when Kevin Schwantz retired early in the season. Scott Russell came over from World Superbikes to take Schwantz's place with Suzuki, but there was a gap.
Compare the current dismal state of U.S. roadracing to the stretch from 1983 through 1985, when U.S. riders won 35 of the 36 grands prix, or 1992, when six of the top 10 riders were from the United States.
It just so happens that 1992 was Colin Edwards' first season as a professional racer. So how long does it take to go from world dominance to total MotoGP absence? The space of one long career.