Jose Antonio Rueda: “From the beginning of the season, the goal has been to win the title”


The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider began the season as one of the favourites in the class. An unexpected illness stopped his progress in the opening races, but he has been back fighting for the top positions. Rueda assesses the first part of 2024 and explains his objectives.

What has been the key to the step up you’ve taken during the winter and the first half of the season?
“I think that, above all, experience from last year has helped me a lot. In addition, sharing a box with Deniz Öncü was also a great help to me. Thanks to him I was able to see what the way of working in the World Championship was like and approach it in a different way. I have kept working as I always have, but knowing the path to follow is easier when it comes to dealing with working with the team and with the bike at each circuit.”

KTM have worked hard so that this year you can compete with the new bike. What are the points that you would highlight the most?
“The change of tyres to Pirelli is being very noticeable this year and it has benefited me personally. Obviously KTM have worked hard and the bike has taken a big leap up in terms of everything. I have adapted very well from the beginning and it is easier for me to ride.”

The start of the season saw your operation for appendicitis. To what extent has that affected you and how have you approached the situation to fight for the podium again in the last few races?
“The start of the year was not as we expected, because I missed some races. That made me lose my rhythm and confidence a little, but I think I dealt with it well. I have taken it as a new challenge to be able to be at the front again and show that, even though I have missed some races, I can be up there. I have missed some important races, like Jerez, which was my home Grand Prix, but the most important thing is that we have been able to fight for the podium again.”

What do you think is missing for you to get that first victory in the World Championship?
“I think we need to improve a little in different aspects: Knowing how to position ourselves better in the race, having a little more luck and fighting until the final laps. I would like to fight a little more early on and to have more of a chance to be in the Top 3 from the beginning.”

“Even though I have missed some races, I have shown that I can be at the front again.”

How has Aki Ajo helped you reach this level and maintain consistency every weekend?
“Aki’s methodology has helped me a lot since last year. This season I have applied his advice even more and every weekend I talk to him to get his opinion. His experience and the work he has done with so many riders helps a lot when facing the race weekend.”

What assessment do you make of this first half of the season?
“It’s mixed, because we have not always had good luck. In these last few races we have been able to be at the front, but on the last laps something has always happened and we have been left on the verge of the podium. It’s about continuing to work. We deserve to get more podiums and I am convinced that our moment will come. We have to know how to take advantage of it.”

What is the goal between now and the end of the season?
“From the beginning of the season, the goal has been to win the title. I still think that. Mathematically we know that it is difficult, but the start of the season had setbacks, unfortunately. There are still many races left, and many things can happen. I remain confident and believe that we can still fight for at least the Top 3.”

What aspects do you want to improve for the coming races?
“You always try to do better, but I would like to improve the way I approach the weekend: From Friday until the race arrives.”

Finally, what plans do you have for the break?
“I hope to get my driving licence and I want to get away for a few days to the beach to rest with my family, although we will not stop training to reach the second part of the season in the best shape possible.”