Archive - Interview
February 24th, 2014
Herve Poncharal Interview: On The Open Yamaha Of Aleix Espargaro, The Future Of MotoGP, And Seamless Gearboxes
Perhaps the biggest surprise after the first day of testing at Sepang was the sheer, unadulterated speed of Aleix Espargaro on the Forward Yamaha, racing in the Open category. Seventh fastest, half a second off the fastest factory Yamaha of Valentino Rossi, and ahead of the two Tech 3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. By lunchtime on the second day, Aleix was closer still, just two tenths off the best Yamaha.
Naturally, all eyes turned to the Tech 3 garage, and the response of team boss Herve Poncharal. How would the otherwise charming Frenchman react to being beaten by a bike which Yamaha was supplying to a rival team for a third of the price he is paying to lease the Tech 3 Yamaha M1 machines, entered under the Factory Option rules in MotoGP? A long line of journalists beat a path to his door, including MotoMatters.com, to put those questions to him.
Poncharal spoke at length about the Open class, the issue of fuel consumption, and the performance of Aleix Espargaro. First of all, though, he emphasized the strength of his relationship with Yamaha.
The Repsol Media Service have released the second of two interviews with the Repsol Honda teams riders. After Friday's interview with Marc Marquez, today they issued a press release with Dani Pedrosa. In the interview, Pedrosa talks about how he assesses his fitness after the first test, how he spent his winter, and how the test went. Pedrosa reports that Honda have made great steps forward with the bike, and his wish list of improvements is now very short indeed. The press release interview appears below:
“This year we have improved the rear grip a lot. We have taken steps forward”
Spanish rider feeling fit and ready after three days of high intensity testing at Malaysian circuit of Sepang.
Repsol Media Service - Malaysia, Sepang Circuit - Saturday 02/08/2014
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa used last week’s Sepang test to improve his 2014 Honda RC213V. He leaves Malaysia tired after three days of intense work and very hot conditions, but is pleased with how his body responded to the demands. Pedrosa says that his machine features better rear grip, and that what he picked up most last year was an ability to stay focused under maximum pressure.
How was your winter?
With the MotoGP preseason well underway after the first test at Sepang, the busy men and women of the Repsol Media Service are hard at work once again. Their first job this year is an interview with reigning world champion Marc Marquez. In the interview, Marquez talks about training during the winter, how the tests went, defending his title and racing against some of his former rivals in Moto2. The Repsol Media Service have also posted a video on Youtube of Marquez and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa from the test at Sepang. The press release interview appears below:
“This year there will be pressure, but I work well under those conditions”
Repsol Honda’s reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, has started 2014 as he ended 2013: On top in MotoGP.
Repsol Media Service - Malaysia, Sepang Circuit - Friday 02/07/2014
Marc Marquez began his preseason in the best possible fashion, preparing for his second season in MotoGP and his title defence. The Repsol Honda rider dominated all three days of the Sepang test, breaking the circuit record on the final day. His time of 1:59.533 bested Casey Stoner’s previous record, set in 2012.
You haven’t stopped this winter. Can you not stay away from racing?
“This has been a winter of two parts. The first was dedicated to events and press, and the second part to a bit more fun and things like Dirt Track racing, driving cars or karting. It is always good to keep active.”
November 22nd, 2013
Interviewed At The Sachsenring: Jeremy Burgess Speaks About Ducati, And Rossi's Return To The Yamaha
Following Valentino Rossi's shocking decision to part ways with his long-term crew chief Jeremy Burgess, there has been much speculation about Rossi's reason for the split. Mick Fialkowski spoke to the experienced Australian earlier this year at the Sachsenring, where Burgess shed some light on the last few seasons of their cooperation. Burgess told Fialkowski about their time at Ducati, the return to Yamaha, and where Rossi has struggled this season. With the benefit of hindsight, this interview makes for a highly illuminating read.
Mick Fialkowski: Jeremy, what went wrong at Ducati when you were there for two years with Valentino between 2011 and 2012?
Jeremy Burgess: I think you probably have to ask that to Ducati, because we tried very hard to get them to work in a way that we had been using for many years but unfortunately it was a mentality of Ducati which even Valentino wasn't able to change. As much as we tried and as you can see this year, the situation doesn't seem to have improved significantly at all. I think there have to be some really big changes in the way Ducati believes that they should go about their MotoGP racing.
Q: What do they need to change?
JB: The people at the circuit are very good. These projects are not lost by the people working at this level. The people in each garage here work to the level of the equipment and the funding that they have. If there is somebody in the higher position that is blocking the development or not believing what the riders are saying and believes that their design is OK, then this is when it suffers at the race track. Ducati regularly tests in Mugello, they compete in MotoGP and see the results every week. It's really in the hands of the directors of the engineering group to put the right people in place back in Ducati.
Q: After years with Honda and Yamaha, were there any significant differences between working with a Japanese and an Italian factory?
JB: Very much so. The Japanese factory listens to what we say and responds to our requests. Ducati, whether they've listened, they've heard, for sure, but they didn't respond. They believed for some reason that what they've had was good enough and that in some miraculous way everything would be OK next week. And then it wasn't and of course you start to lose the bond between the engineers and the rider to work together to improve the machine. Fundamentally Ducati needs to regroup, go back, try and build again and perhaps hire the very best rider, change their structure and their strategy somewhat.
Q: What were your first thoughts when Vale told you that you're going back to Yamaha for 2013?
After the test at Valencia, Marc Marquez was asked by journalists what he was going to do over the winter. His answer came back quick as a flash: 'First I will do a lot of interviews.' Marquez was all too keenly aware of the media exposure his championship would bring.
He had already done his first big interview, speaking to journalists last Tuesday in a teleconference organized by the ever-industrious Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office. In the interview, Marquez talks about winning the championship at the first attempt, aggressive riding by himself and by Jorge Lorenzo, what Honda needs to do to improve the 2014 bike, and the mental strength he learned after the eye injury he suffered at Sepang in 2011.
The transcript of the press conference appears below:
2013 RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
2013 MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez, Nov. 12, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference. We are very grateful and privileged today to have the new Moto GP World Champion, Marc Marquez, of the Repsol Honda Team. Marc won the title by finishing third Sunday at the Grand Prix of Valencia, edging Jorge Lorenzo by four points. I could spend the next 15 minutes reading off a list of Marc's accomplishments, but I'll try to keep it brief.
A little bit of background. Marc is 20 years old. He's from Spain. He's the youngest premier class World Champion in history. He's the first rookie to win the premier class world title since American legend Kenny Roberts in 1978. Marc won six races this season, a rookie record. One of those wins came in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at IMS, and he finished on the podium in 16 of his 18 starts this year. Marc has won three world championships in the last four seasons. He's won the 125cc title in 2010, the Moto2 title in 2012 and the MotoGP World Championship in 2013. Oh, by the way, he also led testing today. His 2014 season is already underway. He led test today at Valencia.
In part one of our interview with Mike Webb, the MotoGP Race Director talked about the penalty point system and how it had worked in 2013. In the second part, talks about the tire debacle at Phillip Island. Webb explains what the teams were told about the rules and the penalties they would incur, and he discusses the incident on the exit of pit lane between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. He explains how Race Direction felt the dry flag-to-flag race went, and whether the situation could be handled any differently.
Webb also explains why penalty points are only handed out at the front of the race, while the battle mid-pack can be much fiercer than anything happening for the lead. Finally, Mike Webb casts an eye on the future, and explains the next steps towards improving safety, and improving communication with the riders.
Q: Phillip Island. First of all, I've seen the sheet of paper that was passed out to all the teams …
Mike Webb: Several sheets of paper, unfortunately. It changed several times, we were forced to. There was Moto2 for a start, that changed several times, and the same situation in MotoGP, where we had a meeting with the tire supplier, and they told us, OK, this is how many laps the tire can safely do, our recommendation from the tire supplier is that how many laps the tire can do, now it's up to you to make a decision on the race. And that information changed, during Saturday and then after Sunday warm up, so we had three different instructions to the teams based on what the tire companies told us their tires were able to do. And the last one was of course after warm up on Sunday, which is a horrible time to change anything. I know I hated that whole thing, but it was forced on us.
Race Director Mike Webb Interview, Part 1: On Penalty Points, Precedent, Jerez, Sepang And Whether Motorcycle Racing Is A Contact Sport
It has been a busy year for MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb. Since taking on the job of ensuring that MotoGP events take place safely and efficiently, stepping into the shoes vacated by Paul Butler at the start of the 2012 season, Webb has faced some tough decisions and unusual situations, his second year in the job even more eventful than the first.
In response to criticism over the warning system in 2012, a new penalty points system was introduced to allow for harsher penalties for persistent offenders. There were several high-profile incidents involving Marc Marquez in his rookie season, including a clash with Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez, a touch which severed the traction control sensor of teammate Dani Pedrosa's Honda and caused Pedrosa to crash, and the situation at Phillip Island, where the new asphalt at the circuit caused the tires to degrade much more than the two spec tire manufacturers had expected, requiring last-minute adjustments to the race schedule on the fly.
We spoke with Mike Webb extensively at Valencia, on the Thursday evening before the race, covering the above subjects and more, and reviewing his second year as Race Director. In the first part of the interview, Webb talks of whether motorcycle racing is a contact sport, how the penalty system has worked out, explains why Marc Marquez was not given points at Jerez, why Jorge Lorenzo wasn't penalized for the touch at Sepang, and of changing perceptions.
Q: You're at the end of your second year in the job of Race Director. Was it easier than the first?
The Pata Honda team today issued the following press release, containing an interview with Jonathan Rea. In it, Rea discusses the leg injury he suffered in Germany, watching races at home, why he chose to remain with Honda, and his hopes for 2014:
Rea raring to go for 2014
Q&A with Pata Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea
By his own admission, Jonathan Rea’s 2013 World Superbike season was not all that he would have wanted and, in spite of maintaining his record of scoring at least one race win in each of his five SBK seasons to date, it ended prematurely.
The 26-year-old was well-placed in race one at the Nürburgring in Germany on 1 September when he crashed at high speed on an expired machine’s oil. Rea broke his left femur in the crash and his season was over.
It was the second serious rider injury that the Pata Honda team suffered this season after Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam broke his left tibia and fibula at Assen in The Netherlands in April.
Haslam returned to riding just four weeks later but his injury and its after-affects influenced the rest of his season and his own contribution to the development of the 2013 CBR1000RR.
As is their custom, the industrious Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office organized a teleconference with Marc Marquez ahead of this weekend's Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP race. As all these occasions were, it was highly informative and wide ranging, with Marquez being asked about a host of different subjects. The Repsol Honda rookie was asked about his unexpectedly strong start to his MotoGP career, about Casey Stoner developing the 2014 MotoGP bike, training on a dirt track bike, what he still has left to learn in MotoGP and the legendary 125cc race at Estoril in 2010, when Marquez crashed the bike on the sighting lap, but still went on to win the race. A great read, as ever:
Marc Marquez, Aug. 12, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Today our guest is current MotoGP World Championship leader, Marc Marquez.
Just a little background about Marc. Marc is from Spain. He is, as I said, leading the World Championship standings. He has a 16-point lead over his teammate and two time Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa and a 26-point lead over reigning world champion and 2009 Indianapolis winner, Jorge Lorenzo.
The Repsol Media Service issued an interesting interview with Alex Rins, currently engaged in fighting for the Moto3 championship with Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom. In it, Rins talks about his arrival in Moto3, how he sees the championship, and sleeping in the paddock with noisy fans all around the track. The press release is shown below:
“My aim is to fight for the win at every race”
Alex Rins lies third in the World Championship, with two wins and podiums at every race that he has finished.
Repsol Media Service - Thursday 08/08/2013
Alex Rins looks back positively on his first half of the Moto3 season, in which he has only placed off the podium at Jerez and has two victories —in Austin and Germany. The 2012 Rookie of the Year has become one of the candidates for the title in Moto3 this season.
What evaluation do you make of the first half of the season?
"A positive one. We did not expect to be up so high, fighting for the podium at every race. It's a shame about the crash that we had in Jerez, because I think we are having a great start to the season."
You’ve been on the podium at every race in which you've finished. Do you feel you have met the objectives set at the beginning of the year?
Repsol Press Release Interview: Marc Marquez On Winning, On Overtaking, On Racing In MotoGP, And On His Brother Alex
After Dani Pedrosa's interview yesterday, today, the Repsol Media Service issued a press release containing a mid-season interview with Marc Marquez. In another interesting interview, Marquez talks about his process of adaptation to riding a MotoGP bike, about surprising himself with his performance, and about beating his brother Alex. The full press release is shown below:
"A win in MotoGP is something special"
Marc Marquez reaches the summer break of his first season in the premier class as championship leader, after breaking all kinds of records.
Repsol Media Service - Thursday 01/08/2013
With three wins and a further five podiums in his rookie year in the premier class, the Repsol Honda team rider is enjoying a well-deserved rest at the halfway point of the season. Despite being new to the category and still in a learning stage with his Honda RC213V, Marquez has shown in the first nine races of the year that the sky is the limit for him.
Which race have you liked best this season?
"There are several, but Austin was special —the first victory for me. I also liked Laguna Seca. It was a new track for me, which I had not ever ridden at, it’s a special circuit. I also loved the Jerez race because I pushed 100%. There are several races in which I could have done better, some worse, but overall I'm happy, except for Mugello, which was a weekend with crashes and a fall in the race with just two laps remaining and I lost some valuable points."
As is their custom, the Repsol Media service is sending out interviews with their riders over the summer break. First to break cover is an interview with Dani Pedrosa. The 2012 championship runner up talks about the progress he is making in recovering from the collarbone injury he suffered at the Sachsenring, his hopes of repeating in 2013 the outstanding results he obtained in the latter half of 2012, and on the balance between the Hondas and the Yamahas. As always, the Repsol Media interviews are an interesting read:
"Hopefully we can have a second half to the season like in 2012"
Dani Pedrosa reaches the halfway point of the season in second place, heavily involved in the fight for the title after scoring 11 valuable points at Laguna Seca —with a broken collarbone.
Repsol Media Service - Wednesday 31/07/2013
Second in the World Championship and 16 points off the lead, Dani Pedrosa salvaged a difficult situation at the United States Grand Prix to add 11 valuable points to his tally. A crash during practice for the German Grand Prix disrupted the consistency of the Repsol Honda Team rider, who had led the Championship for much of the season.
How is your body after Laguna Seca?
"Honestly, I'm very happy. Whenever you make a big effort and take risks like I did at the United States Grand Prix, getting good results and points is very rewarding."
You're 16 points off the lead. What evaluation do you make of the previous races?
The Power Electronics Aspar team issued the following press release, containing an interview with one of the most interesting riders of the moment. Aleix Espargaro has been exceptionally impressive in the first half of the 2013 season, regularly scoring top 10 finishes, and harrassing the satellite machines. In the press release, Espargaro talks about the 2013 season so far, and his hopes for the second half of the year:
“STAYING AT THE LEVEL WE'RE ALREADY AT WOULD BE AN EXCEPTIONAL ACHIEVEMENT”
After making history as the first CRT 'champion' in MotoGP last year, POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider Aleix Espargaró started the 2013 season as a strong favourite to repeat the feat. His form so far has gone far beyond that and alongside outright MotoGP title contenders Márquez, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, the Spaniard has been the standout rider of the current season; as well as leaving the rest of the CRT field trailing in his wake he has gone head to head with the factory prototypes on a regular basis. Aleix Espargaró is a man in demand and after a successful first half of the season with the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team he is hoping for even more when the action resumes next month.
How do you reflect on the first half of the season?
I am much happier than I expected. Last season finished well and we were looking forward to picking up with similar results in 2013 but I don't think I or anybody else expected us to be so close to the official prototypes. So I am really satisfied and I hope we can raise our game again in the second half of the championship.
Cal Crutchlow has not taken the customary route into MotoGP. Not for him racing 125s in the Spanish Championship, before the inevitable climb up through the Grand Prix support classes to MotoGP. Instead, he took a very sideways path, through BSB, World Supersport and World Superbike, before encountering a very tough first year in MotoGP.
That circuitous path has stood him in good stead, however. Crutchlow is now on the brink of breaking into the elite circle of riders who have won a MotoGP race in the dry, and his services are in demand. It is surely just a matter of time.
I sat down with Crutchlow at Assen, with the intention of trying to extract the secret of his riding from him. I had a whole line of questions lined up on the technicalities of braking, the mechanics of cornering and how to race a MotoGP bike, but I got distracted by a long and philosophical chat before my recorder was turned on. By the time we started the interview proper, it went off in a different, but just as fascinating direction. Cal Crutchlow talks about his love for the sport of motorcycle racing, how he got started, how he arrived in MotoGP, and why it is so important to be a factory rider. And why it is so very, very difficult to win a race in MotoGP.
MotoMatters: Why are you a motorcycle racer?
Cal Crutchlow: It's funny, I said in an interview the other day, I don't race motorcycles to be famous, I don't race motorcycles to earn money, as such. It's my job, and I do earn a salary doing it, but I do it because I love it. And I'd still be racing on a Sunday in a club race if I had to pay for it. If I had to work all week as whatever I was and go club racing on a Sunday, I'd still do it because I love it. So it must be an inbred thing, in my blood, when you see how many racers now had their fathers racing.
That the Red Bull Rookies Cup has been a huge success goes without saying. Former rookies now fill the front of the Moto3 grid, and are starting to make an impact in Moto2. The goal of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, of bringing young riders from around the world into Grand Prix racing has clearly been met.
So successful has it been that two years ago, the World Superbike series set up a similar project. After a modest first year, the European Junior Cup is thriving in its second year, and providing some fantastic racing for talented young riders. At Jerez earlier this year, we had the opportunity to talk to Red Bull Rookies Cup supervisor Peter Clifford about the series he is involved in, as well has the European Junior Cup. He gave us his view of the rival series, but also on a range of other subjects.
The interview covered the difference between four strokes and two strokes, the range of nationalities participating in the Rookies Cup, the complementary role of the European Junior Cup, and the approach the Rookies Cup is taking towards female riders in the series. As always, Clifford provides plenty of food for thought.
MotoMatters: There has been a major change to the Red Bull Rookies Cup this year, with the switch from the 125cc KTM two strokes to the four stroke KTM RC250R. How has the series changed this year?
Peter Clifford: The new bikes that's the huge difference. We've had the usual influx of riders, we keep roughly half from the previous year, and add about half new guys. And of course, this year it makes it an even more level playing field for everybody, because they've all got new motorcycles. They've done four days of preseason testing, everybody got the same treatment, obviously, and then went to Austin for the first races on the new bikes. It's been really good.