The absence of U.S. riders from World Championship motorcycle roadracing is now complete. The AirAsia Caterham Moto2 team announced today that Josh Herrin has been replaced for the rest of the season by World Supersport rider Ratthapark Wilairot of Thailand.
That makes Herrin the second U.S. racer to lose his ride mid-season this year and it also means that there will be not one U.S. rider on the grid in any class at the next MotoGP round in Misano.
The year started with promise, with Nicky Hayden back on a Honda in MotoGP and Herrin, the AMA Superbike champ, with a ride in Moto2. For added color, there was Colin Edwards' final year in MotoGP, which was supposed to be a farewell tour to cap off an incredible career.
But as we reported back in May, the future looked bleak. And it has only gotten worse since then.
Herrin got off to a bad start with a training injury at the beginning of the season. Wilairot subbed for him then, too. Hayden found out that his Honda RCV1000R was way down on power compared to the factory bikes. Then, he had to have more surgery because of old injuries that had caused bones in his right wrist to die. At mid-season, Edwards' farewell tour was abruptly ended as his team replaced him with Alex DeAngelis. And now Herrin is gone prematurely, too.
Ultimately, the same thing did in both Edwards and Herrin: a faster teammate. Aleix Espargaro's success showed that Edwards' bike was capable of more, and Johann Zarco's ability to run near the front in Moto2 (he's currently seventh in the standings) on the same bike that Herrin routinely qualified near the back of the field showed that the U.S. rider just was not able to adapt to a Moto2 machine and its different tires, despite his success on a U.S. superbike. When your teammate is fast on an identical bike, you're out of excuses.
In 1992, the year Colin Edwards turned professional as a racer, six of the top 10 riders in the 500cc grand prix class, the equivalent of today's MotoGP, were from the United States. Now, none will even make the starting grid at Misano, and with many people expecting that Hayden's injuries will end his career, this drought is one that isn't likely to end soon.