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Pere Riba: ´Moving to MotoGP is like starting from scratch.´
Pere Riba is the latest rider to arrive on the MotoGP scene, having shouldered the responsibility of deputising for his revered compatriot Alex Crivillé, who was forced to withdraw from the series just weeks ahead of the first race with medical problems. Riba admits that when the call came from Criville´s team boss Luis d´Antín he took a couple of days to think things over, but eventually had no doubt that this ambitious new challenge would bring out the best in him. The Yamaha man enjoyed mixed fortunes at the recent IRTA tests in Barcelona, falling twice but lapping just one second slower than his new team-mate Norick Abe. Riba spoke to motograndprix.com about his first tentative steps aboard the 500 and his ambitions for a new stage in his career.
mgp.com: How would you sum up the last few weeks and your switch to the MotoGP World Championship?
Pere Riba: It is a radical change for me, the bikes are very different and I know that it won´t be easy to adapt. I´ve only clocked up a few hundred kilometres on the Yamaha and it requires much more work than I am used to with regard to the set-up. I knew what I was getting myself into though and I am aware that this is a complicated world but I have spent a lot of time as a development rider with Michelín, Pirelli, and the Honda CBR so I have got the experience.
mgp.com: What were your first impressions of the Yamaha YZR500?
P.R: I have ridden 2 stroke bikes before but I have just about forgotten how (laughs). In Supersport I had a particular style; I enter the corners very sideways but the bikes allow this and you can really open the throttle. With the YZR500 you can also go sideways through the corner but that´s not necessarily the quickest way. To get the most out of the engine you have to stand the bike up more. I´ve got the theory mastered but carrying it out isn´t so easy when you are so used to something else.
mgp.com: What made you decide to swap Supersport for MotoGP?
P.R: I was very comfortable where I was, in a team which had the chance to win the world title and where I could have stayed for another three years. I was happy there, but I got the call and decided to take a gamble. I suppose I´ve gone from comfortable surroundings to a very tense environment where you have to work a lot harder. Also my age was a factor. I´m 32 now and I don´t know if there would have been another opportunity like it.
mgp.com: What have been your first impressions of the Antena 3 Yamaha d´Antín team?
P.R: I feel happy here, it´s a young and very professional team. I´ve only really just met my new team-mate, Norick Abe, but he seems like a good guy. In any case I am the sort of person who gets on with everybody. I don´t create enemies and I don´t close doors; it´s not my style and I don´t think it´s very intelligent.
mgp.com: Is it an extra pressure to be replacing someone like Alex Crivillé?
P.R: Maybe because of my experience I don´t feel pressured by it. Also, there are no miracles in this sport. Nobody can just walk in and be the best. I know that I have to stay calm, work and just progress from race to race. I believe in myself and I am happy with the lap times we have done so far, although I know that there is plenty yet to do, but I think that is to be expected.
mgp.com: Have you discussed your objectives for this year with d´Antín?
P.R: Well, as Team Manager he needs the best results possible and if we work well I think I am capable. We can go fast but it is difficult to do so straight away because we have had no preseason. It will all come I´m sure.
mgp.com: Do you hope to continue in MotoGP in the future?
P.R: First of all I have to do well this year. If things evolve in the right direction then my intention is to continue in MotoGP next season on a 4 stroke.
15 years ago
15 years ago