“We have to fight for podiums and wins in the second half of the year”30/07/2014
Results at Assen and Sachsenring give confidence to Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo at the midway point of the Moto3 season.
Nobody said the jump to Moto3 from Moto2 was easy, but Danny Kent was able to change the dynamics of the first few races of the year and reach the end of the first half of the World Championship as part of the leading group. Eighth place in the Netherlands and especially his performance in Germany –where he placed fifth and was 1 second behind the winner, allow the Briton to approach the remaining nine races with optimism.
The start of the season did not go as expected for the Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo rider but, far from being discouraged, the young talent has shown flashes of his best thanks to a change in mindset and a Husqvarna bike with the potential to win races.
It seems that in the last two races you have taken a step forward, but what mark do you give yourself overall for the first half of the season?
“I’d say a 5, because we suffered a lot in the first few races. The start to the year was not what we had expected after preseason testing. We’ve had to work hard to be up at the front and, to be honest, I think it was mainly due to my riding style. However, in recent races, especially at Assen, we have taken an important step forward which confirmed at the Sachsenring. Hopefully I can keep up this form and continue to improve, because I know that I have a team and a bike capable of winning races and being on the podium. That’s why I think we can have good races.”
In preseason there was the feeling that you were anticipating a good season and were ready to be at the front straight away. Did you feel better in preseason that at the first few races?
“Yes. It’s also true that preseason tests are always different… You have three days to get a good lap and put your name at the top of the timesheets. During the Grands Prix you have only three free practice sessions, the qualifying session and the race to find your feeling with the bike. Besides that, in a race you need 22 fast laps, instead of just one. In Qatar we had high hopes of a good race and a strong result, but up until Assen we weren’t doing all that well. We have still taken an important step forward.”
Have you had to change your riding style a lot from last year?
“Yes, of course. Going from Moto2 to Moto3 is completely different. In Moto2, for example, you use more engine braking. It is completely different. It has taken a while to find a good feeling. Even though I rode in Moto3 until 2012, the bike has totally changed. We struggled to find a setup that I like, but it seems that now we have a good base setting that works for us.”
“I still think that going back to Moto3 was my best option.”
With this beginning of year in which things did not go as you wanted, have you ever doubted that returning to Moto3 was the right choice?
“No, I think I made a good decision. It’s true that the results haven’t come for us until a couple of races ago, but the best option for me was to be in Moto3. During the second half of the season we will have to push 110% to get podiums and try to win races. I sincerely believe that I can be up at the top.”
Which do you think has been your best race so far?
“The latest one, the Sachsenring race, was definitely our best race and our best weekend in general. We improved a lot at Assen and in Germany we continued to make progress. I’m very happy with how the weekend went and we were closer than ever to the race winner –just 1 second back. I believe it is a result that will do a lot for my confidence, because it shows that I can be up there. Now we have to try to get the first podium of the year.”
Did you change any aspect of the bike, change your riding style or gain confidence in yourself to make that progress at Assen?
“I was much more confident. Besides, all year we had been working with a configuration for a hard rear suspension, which I liked in 2012. As the races have gone by, we have seen that we were taking things in the wrong direction, so we made a big change and got it right. Fingers crossed, but I think now we are set to feel good on the bike.”
Which has been the worst race?
“I would say Austin. The result was not the worst, but in terms of how the race went, it was the worst, without a doubt. We were almost 30 seconds off the winner, and the times we put in were a lot slower. So that was our worst round to date.”
What do you expect from the second half of the season?
“As I said, in the last few races we have taken a step forward, finishing closer than ever to the win. Hopefully in the second half of the season we can continue in this way, taking more steps forward to fight for podiums and wins.”
“With good results, I think that we can be up in the Top 5 at the end of the season.”
In what areas you need to improve?
“A bit of everything. I’ve got to improve my riding and the bike setup. During this 3 weeks of vacation time, the most important thing I have to do is train and prepare myself physically and mentally to be stronger in the second half of season. I believe that we can do better than in the first nine races.”
Why do you think that last year we had three outstanding riders fighting for the title and now the standings are so close?
“I think last year there was a big difference between the bikes. The KTM was much faster than the other bikes. Now there are more teams using KTM bikes, and other factories have also been forced to improve a lot. So now we have many riders on very competitive bikes. That makes the front group larger and times much faster than last season.”
Is there a race that you are looking forward to in particular?
“Definitely Silverstone, because it is my home Grand Prix, but I’d rather take things race by race. In 2012 we started about the same as this year, so we can’t jump to conclusions. There are some tracks that I like more than others, but we have to go step-by-step to achieve good results.”
Who do you think will win the title?
“It’s still early to say, but right now there are 4 or 5 riders capable of winning the World Championship. There are still many races to go and anything can happen. It’s hard to say because I think it is still early. Those in the best position are Miller –of course- Marquez, Fenati, Rins and Efren. But there can always be another rider who could come through and get the title.”
For you, where do you have to finish in the championship?
“It’s hard to say. I wouldn’t know what to say, but if I have a good second half of the season, with good results, I think I can be in the Top 5.”