Is KTM MotoGP ready for Raul Fernandez vs Remy Gardner, Part II?

Could the outspoken Raul Fernandez prove an antagonistic distraction for KTM during the 2022 MotoGP season following some choice comments in 2021?

Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez - Tech 3 KTM

He’s not started a MotoGP race as yet but already Raul Fernandez has made quite a name for himself in MotoGP circles.

The talented Spaniard has courted plenty of attention since making his full-time GP debut just three years ago, a rapid rise through the ranks he topped off with an impressive run at the Moto2 title last season at his first attempt in the intermediate ranks.

Eight wins should have won him the title relative to KTM Ajo Motorsport team-mate Remy Gardner’s five successes, but ill-timed DNFs would ultimately see him fall four points short.

Even so, the experience disparity between the pair accounts for that tiny margin, Fernandez forcing KTM to act on scrapping its two-year Moto2 plan in favour of offering a Tech 3 MotoGP seat for 2022 or risk losing him to one of its rivals, namely Yamaha.

Not that Fernandez has been thrilled by the outcome, the Spaniard making some curiously pointed comments in the wake of his MotoGP promotion announcement that suggested he’d rather have seen KTM accept a sizeable offer from Yamaha to buy him out of his contract.

It’s a friction that carried through into the second-half of the season when, after losing out to Gardner in the title race, he suggested a plot to prioritise the Australian over him, describing himself as a ‘moral winner’. 

To his credit, Gardner - son of 1987 500GP World Champion Wayne Gardner - clapped back that his comments were ‘bulls**t’.

Team-mates again in 2022, it’s a rivalry KTM is only too aware of and while this time they won’t be fighting for any titles, Pit Beirer is confident the team can keep the riders in check for the greater good.

“When you have two fantastic drivers pursuing the same goal, there is friction,” he told Speedweek. “We had to learn that as a group in many disciplines. When you have champions who want to win, they go far. 

“They're just trying to get the team on their side too. As a manufacturer or team we obviously try to help all our boys, they are like our children to us. But in the end they have to fight it out on the racetrack."

"I think at that moment it was best not to comment and just let things calm down a bit," continued Beirer. “Of course the boys put themselves under pressure, a world title was at stake. One won it and was super happy, the other wasn't and of course he wasn't happy at the moment... That's clear."

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