Aspar Press Release: Interview With Jorge Martinez, On CRT, Jonas Folger, And Sponsorship Innovation
The Aspar press office today issued a press release containing an interview with team boss Jorge Martinez. In the interview, the Spaniard talks about how 2012 has turned out in the three classes in which the Aspar team competes, touching on subjects such as the success of late signing Jonas Folger, how CRT is working out, and the power deficit which CRT machines have to the MotoGP prototypes, and the sponsorship initiatives being taken by the team to help fill the gaps being left open as the global economic crisis continues. Below is the press release in full:
Interview with Jorge Martínez 'Aspar' - 24/09/12
'I HOPE THE ASPAR TEAM RIDERS TREAT THE LAST FIVE RACES LIKE FIVE CUP FINALS'
After 33 years at the coal face of motorcycle racing Jorge Martinez 'Aspar' is a true legend of his sport. He speaks with the calmness of a veteran but his eyes still sparkle with the limitless enthusiasm of youth. A four-time World Champion himself in the smaller classes 'Aspar' has won the same number of titles as a team owner but no matter what your success there is always a flip side to contend with in racing and this season has seen him forced into some difficult decisions. In this interview the Spaniard opens up about the season so far, his relationship with his sponsors and his targets for the near future.
With just the final sprint to go in the championship what is your evaluation of the Aspar Team?
It has been a tough year, different. Maybe we have become too used to enjoying success in recent seasons but there were a lot of changes to contend with in 2012. The 125 class changed to Moto3, in MotoGP we switched from Ducati to a CRT bike with Aprilia and we signed a lot of new riders. Preseason went well in every category, we completed all the work we had planned but once official practice got started things started to turn for the worse - especially in Moto3. The first race was like a bucket of cold water - we didn't expect such poor results. It is important to assess moments like this and analyse why the situation has come about. I thought the material and the technical staff were competitive so there was really no reason for it to happen.
What has happened in Moto3?
With the current concept of the championship in Moto3, where the playing field is very level in terms of the bikes, tyres, components, fuel... the biggest variable is the rider rather than the material. The material or the bike can win you a tenth of a second here or there but the rider can be worth half a second. The riders have to know when to take risks and to make the most of an opportunity when it arises - not just for themselves but for the team, the mechanics, the sponsors etc.
Well, Nico is on the right path. He is an extremely hard-working, methodical rider who is developing in a progressive way and trying to make sure he understands every little step of the process. He's a fighter and even though he is perhaps taking a little longer to adapt to Moto2 than we'd hoped he continues to work with the same intensity. Without doubt the biggest surprise for us was Toni. I am sure that when he decided to sign for the MAPFRE Aspar Team in Moto2 he did so with the intention of fighting to win. That was his intention and it was ours too but things didn't work out.
In MotoGP, however, things have gone very well...
In MotoGP we are very happy. It is just a shame that I don't think the new CRT class is being given the importance it deserves. I think we have improved massively from the start of the season to now. The ART gets better every time and we are getting gradually closer to the prototype bikes - we've even been ahead of them in some races. Randy De Puniet started out very strongly in preseason and opened a big advantage over the rest. He's had the odd crash and mechanical breakdown but he's having a marvellous season. Aleix started out a little doubtful because of the gap to Randy and you could see that but gradually he has got himself on level terms, if not a little in front. They are both at the top of the CRT championship and I am happy with the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team.
What are you hoping for between now and the end of the season?
We have five races left and in the last few rounds we have seen some important improvements. Without doubt Jonas Folger was an excellent signing for our Moto3 project and in three races he has managed a third place and a win. I just want the riders to give 120% in the races that are left. It is very important for them, for the team and obviously for the sponsors. In Moto2 Nico is getting closer and closer to the front, which is where he wants to be and obviously so do we. What I am asking all of the Aspar Team riders is to treat the last fives races like five cup finals. To finish the championship fighting for podiums and wins is what we should be doing.
Did you really expect Folger to kick off with a podium and a win?
That was a pleasant surprise. Ever since the Catalunya round I was convinced that we had a bike and a team that worked and that we should have been picking up results. At Indianapolis it was a surprise to see him arrive and lead the opening free practice - he didn't even need time to adapt. That third place was a great moment and we needed it, amongst other things because certain sections of the media were questioning our professionalism for swapping riders in the middle of the season. I want to make it very clear that the Aspar Team and our sponsors always want the best for our riders but we are a winning team, that fights for the very best outcome in every race and wants to be lifting world titles at the end of each season. Whether or not we achieve it is another matter but we have to be fighting for it and we can't allow a situation to continue when we are constantly near the back.
Have you been proved right in Moto3?
No doubt. Results are what counts and determine whether decisions are the right ones or not. I have 33 years of experience in this championship and at the top level of sport and if I have learnt one thing it is that you are only as good as your last result.So it stands to reason that the changes we made were the right ones.
Do these podiums also vindicate the Kalex/KTM as a competitive package despite suggestions to the contrary?
I never doubted it because there is another rider out there having a great season on a Kalex/KTM. He is fighting every weekend for a podium or a win and it is the same bike as ours. If there wasn't another bike out there identical to ours then there could have been room for doubt but that wasn't the case.
Which riders are in the frame for 2013? Will the team structure stay the same?
Right now the situation is wide open. In Moto3 we would like to have a winning rider from Spain and another rider with a serious chance even if they are foreign. It is difficult to name names because there is still nothing concrete. In Moto2 we will continue to back Nico and wait to see who we will line up alongside him. In MotoGP we would like to continue with the two riders we currently have in the team. We're at a crucial stage of negotiations with the riders and sponsors right now so hopefully we can have everything defined very soon. In theory the team structure will be the same, with two bikes and two riders in each category. The idea is to continue with the same manufacturers although we do have a few offers on the table.
Congratulations for the success of the recent Aspar Team Open Day. . . (n.b. the Aspar Team Open Day was organised for the team's sponsors to get together and meet each other)
It was a great experience. I think we need to arrange more events like this because it gets the team, the riders and sponsors together. We were all able to enjoy ourselves in a relaxed environment and the sponsors were able to get to know each other so there is initial contact before any negotiations begin.
Do you think the Aspar Team is redefining the concept of sponsorship with initiatives like this?
We have always tried to be innovative in many ways and this is one of them. The Aspar Team Open Day has been running for a while now and the feedback from it is always positive. We have some new ideas and I hope that we'll be able to put them into practice at the start of next year.
How do you manage to maintain such good relationships with sponsors in times as tough as these?
It is very important to show them that you are professional and calm and to maintain a relationship based on constant communication. You have to be open and the sponsors need to know why certain things happen within a team. Obviously results are what matter in sport but when they are not coming, like this season for us, you have to react in the way I explained earlier. I hope our sponsors continue to believe in us in the way they have up to now because I am sure we can take them back to the very top.
So will the Aspar bikes be in the same blue and red colours next season?
Obviously that is what I want. We have been supported by MAPFRE for many years and we are delighted with our relationship with them on every level: professional, personal, business and everything we do together. Hopefully this can continue for a long time to come. We have only been with POWER ELECTRONICS for a year and we have built a very strong relationship. We are very happy on a personal level. I didn't know the Salvo family and I have been surprised by what attentive, noble people they are. MAPFRE and POWER ELECTRONICS are two top-level multinational companies in their respective fields and their support is suitably top class. The aim of the Aspar Team is always to match this level of excellence on the track. Just like with MAPFRE and POWER ELECTRONICS I hope we can continue to collaborate with our many other partners who have backed us for so many years. We are putting our plans together right now to present to them shortly.