John McPhee ‘100% wants Moto2’ but will stay in Moto3

British rider John McPhee is set for his eighth season in the Moto3 World Championship with Petronas Sprinta after his hopes of moving up to Moto2 are dashed

John McPhee - Petronas Sprinta Moto3

John McPhee says he ‘couldn’t turn down’ the chance to stay with the Petronas Sprinta team, even if it means an extended stay in the Moto3 World Championship category rather than step up to Moto2.

Currently in his seventh season of Moto3, McPhee is enjoying his strongest year to date in the entry-level grand prix class after notching up a second career win in France. With seven races remaining, McPhee is sixth in the standings.

However, the solid form hasn’t earned him a long-awaited swap to the intermediate Moto2 class, despite making it clear that was his plan for the 2020 season.

Opting to remain under the wing of the well-funded Malaysian-backed Petronas Sprinta outfit – the only team currently competing in all four GP categories – McPhee will instead target the 2020 Moto3 title with a view to moving up in 2021 instead.

"To be completely honest, I 100% wanted to go to Moto2," McPhee told our sister publication "But that doesn’t mean I'm not delighted to continue with this great opportunity in Moto3.

“At Silverstone I finished one-second off the win and in twelve months' time we'll come back here knowing what to improve with my riding and the bike. We've got a lot of good data now and I think next year we'll be even stronger,"

McPhee frozen out of expanded Petronas Moto2 line-up

Somewhat awkwardly McPhee – speaking at the British MotoGP event two weeks’ ago - says one of the reasons he will remain in Moto3 is because Petronas Sprinta had no assurances that it would run a second bike in Moto2, saying:

“My main focus was always to stay with Petronas and they are still not 100% on if they have got a second Moto2 bike for next year yet, so the team said 'we need a Moto3 rider and want to sign you now. If we can get the second Moto2 bike, you could be on it. But if we don't, we don’t want you to be left out'.

"To be given the opportunity to stay with Petronas in Moto3, a great team and great bunch of people around me - I couldn’t turn it down. So, I'm staying here and the long-term plan is to try and move up to Moto2 the year after with this team."

However, today Petronas Sprinta revealed it will in fact run a two-bike Moto2 effort with Malaysian rider Khairul Idham Pawi joined by Xavi Vierge, who joins from Marc VDS.

"Xavi has a lot of experience, and we think he will flourish within our set-up," explained team director Johan Stigefelt. "He’s the right rider to help us grow together in this category and will be the perfect team leader for our two-bike squad next year.

McPhee is a relative veteran of Moto3 now having made his race debut in 2010 – when it was known as 125cc – before making the full-time switch in 2013.

He is one of only six British riders currently competing on the grand prix motorcycling stage along with Cal Crutchlow (MotoGP), Sam Lowes, Jake Dixon (Moto2), Tom Booth-Amos (Moto3) and Bradley Smith (MotoE)