Interview with Luis Salom: “The tranquility that the team transmits is fundamental”30/07/2013
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider reaches midway point of the Moto3 season in the lead of the overall standings, with four wins and a perfect podium record.
Current Moto3 leader Luis Salom is resting in Palma de Mallorca after two days of testing in Slovakia with KTM. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider is positively surprised with his results so far and is expecting more of the same in the second half of the season.
Salom is looking forward to the return to action at Indianapolis, and to a tight end to the 2013 campaign.
You lead the Moto3 class, with four wins and four podiums from eight Grands Prix. What rating would you give this half of the season?
“I’m very happy, because we have done a very good job so far. Giving yourself a mark out of ten is always difficult, but we have eight podium finishes from eight races —so how about we give ourselves an 8.”
When you joined the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, did you expect to get to this point in the season in this situation?
“Honestly, no. I knew I was coming to a very strong team and that I had to give everything to be at their level, but I had aimed for four wins and four podiums at this stage of the season. I was sure I could be at the front fighting for the top positions, but not as often as we have been. The work we have done has been very good, so I’m very satisfied.”
What race stands out so far, and why?
“Although I have very fond memories of most of them, I probably would say the Catalan Grand Prix. It was an almost perfect weekend. Achieving pole position and taking the victory at home, with all the fans cheering me on, was very special.”
Which one do you have bad memories from?
“Maybe Austin, because it was a track that I really liked and I went quite well throughout the weekend. Also Jerez, where the red flag stopped the race from being completed. I don’t know what would have happened, but I would have liked to have completed all the laps that were planned.”
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed this year?
“The most prominent and important was the work that the Red Bull KTM Ajo team have been doing. The way they do things and the tranquility that transmit at all times. Overall, I have been surprised and I think they have been essential to our results.”
What are the keys that make the Red Bull KTM Ajo team so special?
“The truth is there are many and it is impossible to describe them all. However, you only have to look at the results they have achieved so far: Three world titles —2008, 2010, 2012— and a runner-up spot —2011— in just five years. Achieving this success is not easy and this shows that, right now, the team is very strong.”
What role does Aki Ajo play?
“I think Aki is the one who gives sense to the whole team. Everything is prepared, but without his presence things would not work like they do now. In my opinion, his role within the group is essential for everything going well and us achieving good results.”
After eight races you are the World Championship leader, with a 14-point lead in a very competitive Moto3 class. How do you see this competition?
“I honestly do not know when the title will be decided, and there is still a lot of the season remaining —nine races. Predicting an outcome now is very difficult. Anything can happen. There are many riders who have had a very good first half of the season and then dipped in the second half, and vice-versa. Everything is very tight and the races are decided by very small details. So we’ll see how things go and what happens after the summer break.”
How do you see your rivals at the head of the overall standings?
“It seems that so far, along with Alex [Rins] and Maverick [Viñales], we have created a bit of an advantage, but we have already seen at different races that many riders can get into the leading group at any time. All of them are very talented riders. Moreover, if we add to that the fact that we all have the same material available, everything is very tight and it will be very difficult to stay on top.”
What has surprised you about the KTM Moto3 bike this year?
“I’m very happy with it. The bike is very easy to ride, very docile, and when you get used to riding it is fun. For a rider it is important to enjoyoneself on the bike and this, in addition to surprising me, is something I value a lot.”
After the Mugello test you said you had found significant improvements. What changes did you make there?
“In Italy, like in Slovakia last week, we did a spectacular job. I don’t believe I had ever ridden much. Adding kilometres to the clock is precisely what allows you to learn more about the performance of the bike. Through this we have made small but important changes to the front end of the bike. I think from there we took a step forward. I have to thank KTM for the work being done, because it’s been spectacular.”
Of the remaining circuits, are there any that particularly excite you?
“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is, without a doubt, the track that makes me most excited. I like it very much and it is where I got my first World Championship victory last year. I am looking forward to the end of the summer break and returning to the track. Of the others, more or less, they are all the same for me and there are none that I do not like. The Spanish GPs are always special.”
How do you approach the Asian series of races? Is it different from the other GPs?
“For me, Malaysia, Australia and Japan are just three races like any other. October flies by, time passes very quickly —which is a shame. I wish I could enjoy them more. Now, returning from holiday you prepare for three consecutive races, which I have to take one at a time. In the second half of the season you spend much more time away from home, so these last few weeks beforehand I will stay put.”
In the last few races you have read things well. What is the secret?
“There is no secret. I simply try to think fast on the bike and do what I think is right, at the right time. Throughout the season this sometimes works out and sometimes it doesn’t. You risk just enough to achieve the best possible outcome.”
Lately the races have been decided on the last lap and between a group of three, four or five riders in the leading group. Do you think this will be the same until the last Grand Prix of the year?
“I sincerely hope not [laughs]. Yes it is true that in recent races there have been similar outcomes, but it is also normal because we have the same bikes and all the riders are very strong. We’ll see what happens in these nine remaining races, but intuition tells me that everything will continue in the same way.”
Do you think this summer break has come at a good time?
“Yes, I think so. Besides the test last week, this week I will rest both mind and body. It is also a time to make the most of the summer with my family.”
What will you do during these weeks off?
“I’ll try to relax a bit, but I’ll still train. There are still many GPs and we can’t afford to relax.”
Give us a wish for the second half of the season.
“That all goes well and that we can return home safe and sound after every race.”