A rookie team who became World Champions13/10/2015
Ajo Motorsport take their first Moto2 title in their debut year in the intermediate class.
Successful in the lower cylinder classes, with three World Championship wins –2008 and 2010 in 125cc and 2012 in Moto3–, for this season Ajo Motorsport decided to create a Moto2 outfit for the first time ever, with Johann Zarco as the sole rider. 15 races later, the team led by Aki Ajo are the new World Champions with 309 points –a 103 margin over their nearest rivals–, having taken a total of 13 podiums, including 7 victories. Zarco has highlighted throughout the entire season the important role his team have played, and now it is the team who speak about the rider.
After years considering the move, it was late last year that Aki Ajo decided to take his structure up to the intermediate category. The rider chosen for the debut in Moto2 was an old acquaintance of the team, Johann Zarco. The Frenchman had, in 2011, taken second place in the 125cc class with Ajo Motorsport. That season was a memorable year for both for the team and the rider.
“Johann is a hard worker and I love his spirit. You could say he is an old school rider who lives for bikes. Since 2011 he has been growing and learning, following the same working method. With a very organised life, now he feels good about himself and all those around him. Now is his time. I think he’s found the ideal environment,” says Ajo.
Aki Ajo heads a team with Massimo Branchini as crew chief, David Garcia as telemetrist, Noe Herrera and Guillem Alonso as mechanics and Marçal Johe as assistant. It is a crew that blends experience and youth, and of which only Branchini had worked in Moto2 previously. Also in the garage is Laurent Fellon, coach and manager of the rider since Johann was 13 years old, and WP suspensions technician Stefan Kurfiss.
“Johann is passionate about motorbikes and has worked since age 13 to be World Champion,” says Fellon. “Johann is hardworking, methodical, consistent and, above all, calm”, adds the team.
“The methods and consistency in our work has been very important. From Friday to Sunday we have always worked in the same way. Unlike other riders, Johann notes any changes you’ve made to the bike,” says Herrera.
Such a successful season in their first year in the category was something nobody had imagined. Branchini –4 times World Champion in 125cc– comments: “For me this World Championship title is different. Honestly, our expectations at the start of the season were not to win the title, but to win races and dream.”
The beginning of the year, in Qatar, was not at all promising, as Garcia confesses: “After the mechanical failure in the first race, we all thought Johann would come back to the garage upset. But when he took his helmet off, the only thing he said to us was: ‘We have shown that we were the best, and the victories will come’.”
“He has felt comfortable with the group of people that are around him, as we feel with him, and with Kalex and WP. This has allowed him to be very calm and comfortable when riding, as evidenced by the few crashes he has had,” says Alonso.
This excellent year for Johann Zarco and Ajo Motorsport show that sequels can also live up to what has gone before. They are the new Moto2 World Champions for 2015.