Danny Kent: "It´s going to be a hard year"

Friday, 16 March 2012

Danny Kent is a hot topic after the young Brit lead the unofficial timesheets at the last Moto3 test in Jerez. motogp.com caught up with him to see what he thinks of KTM, team manager Aki Ajo, and his rivals for this year.

You´ve recently come back from a week of training at the Red Bull centre in Salzburg.
"It was my second year there and I improved from last year so that´s one step forward. I´m in better condition now. I only went once last year but this year I think I´m probably going to more. If I´ve got enough time in the breaks then I will try to do as much as possible as I think training plays a big part in racing."

What did you do there?
"We do a lot of stuff on computers. They´ve got so many people working there that can tell everything about our bodies and how our bodies work. They connected a lot of wires to our bodies and they took a lot of blood from us. At the end of the 5 days of training they give you a big book of what they think we can improve on."

What did they say you need to improve on?
"They said that I need to work a bit on my endurance. They said my strength is really good, the only thing I have to work on is a little bit of endurance, and work a bit on my lower back."

You were fastest in the last Moto3 test in Jerez. How are you feeling after that?
"Yeah it was a really good test. Obviously it´s new for me to be at the front so I don´t really want to let it go to my head. I´m just going to go to the next test in Jerez and hopefully start from where we left off and try to keep improving.

How is riding the Moto3 bike?
"I feel so comfortable on the KTM, I feel like I´m in control of the bike. It´s probably the best bike I´ve ever ridden. Looking at the times from the last test, I´ve gone 2 seconds a lap faster round the track than I ever did on a 125."

Tell us about the difference between the 250cc 4-stroke and the 125cc 2-stroke?
"The difference from a 125 is basically in the engine braking going into the corners. With the 125 you have to trail the brakes going into the fast corner, whereas with the Moto3, where it´s got the engine braking, you can release the brake a lot earlier and then because the engine brake is helping you turn, you can get on the power a lot earlier."

Have you had to change your riding style much for Moto3?
"Not really, I´ve just got on with the bike. From the first practice on a Moto3 I´ve enjoyed it and just kept learning. Everyone is still learning, I think most of the teams and riders will be learning new things throughout the whole year, just like it was in Moto2."

Have you made changes to your training?
"I’ve been doing the same sort of training - but just harder. A lot of people have a lot of talent in motorbike racing, but the last bit that you need is really good fitness. When I was in the [MotoGP] Academy in 2008, I had only raced in England previously and hadn’t done any training. My first ever race on a 125 was in Jerez and looking at my lap times, it got quite slow towards the end of the race. Then throughout the whole year I was training and at the last race of the year I raced at the same track and we compared lap times: Just due to my fitness I went nearly half a second a lap faster."

It´s your second year in Aki Ajo´s team. How is the relationship with him and the team?
"I feel really comfortable in the team, I get on really well with everyone there and I think that´s very important. I can be myself, I feel relaxed and if I need help then I can go to anyone in the team. It´s a really good team to be with and I´ve learnt so much with them. Aki as a team manager is quite strict, he´ll tell you straight if you´re doing something wrong and if you´re not working hard enough he will tell you. I like that."

At the moment the KTM seems very strong, do you think it´s the best package?
"At the moment it´s looking like KTM has got the best package but obviously they´re still working hard, as are Honda and everybody else. I feel privileged to be on the factory bike with KTM and also with Aki Ajo who has won 2 world championships. We have a really good package and this could be a really good year for me, we just need to concentrate and see how it goes."

Are you expecting any changes on the bike for the next test?
"We’ve told KTM that the bike is good at the moment but Honda are pushing hard so they can’t just sit down and do nothing, they need to keep on working hard. KTM are going to be working throughout the whole year and they´ve got Joan Olive as a test rider. Just like the Moto2, as the year goes on the lap times will get closer and faster."

Do you think you can consistently fight for podiums and race wins this year?
"If I can keep improving like I have been in testing then it does look good. But I want to go to Qatar not really thinking about winning. I just want to go there and be calm and see how it goes. If I get on the podium, obviously that will give me a real confidence boost and then I will know that I can run at the front and that for the rest of the year I can be there."

Who do you think will be your main competition?
"I think my main rival at the moment is my team-mate Sandro Cortese. I think also Maverick Viñales and Alberto Moncayo will be up there too."

Cortese also said that you are his biggest rival at the moment. How good will it be for the two of you to have that direct competition from inside the team?
"I think it will be really good to have two fast riders within the team. Maybe if we´re going to be close we´ll be helping each other, like in Qualifying for slipstreams and stuff like that, but also with the data. We can look on the computer and see who´s faster in each corner so with that we could help each other out quite a lot."

"I think it´s going to be a really hard year. Obviously Sandro´s into his eighth season in the World Championship and this is only my second year but I don´t think I´m at any disadvantage. We´re on the same bike so it could be a really exciting year.

Britain hasn’t had a World Champion for a long time and there´s a bit of expectation around you after testing now. Do you feel any pressure to deliver a title back home?
"I´ve seen on a few websites and newspapers that I´m one of the title favourites but really I´ve only had one test where I´ve finished on top. Obviously that´s a good start and I had good lap times but we need to be very consistent, it´s not only about winning races. It´s going to be new for everyone and we need to see if the KTM can be consistent too. I´m letting all the talk go over my head. I just want to get to Qatar and I think there everybody will realise who´s going to be at the front."

Where do you see yourself at the end of the year?
"I think we´ve got a really good chance to be consistently on the podium this year. I think it´s too early to predict a final position at the moment but I´d be really happy if I´m in the top 3."

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