Vazquez: "Sometimes the smartest or the most mischievous one wins."

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Third place in Qatar, on a new Honda, and 27-years old. Age might be against Efren Vazquez in the lightweight Moto3™ class, though his machinery and result speak for him. motogp.com caught up with the Saxoprint RTG rider from the Basque region of Spain.  

On switching from a Mahindra to a Honda this year, Vazquez said he was comfortable on his new machinery from the off: “Honda’s project gave me a good feeling from the first moment, and then I saw that the bike was more competitive than the Mahindra. That made us believe and trust in the project very quickly. If there is a brand that is able to make a competitive bike in no time, it's Honda.”

And that trust was well placed, as he stole third place in a thrilling drag to the line in Qatar in the first race: “The podium gave us a very important moral boost, but we have to be very realistic. We have to take things slowly and have to remember the championship is very, very long. And, maybe fortunately or unfortunately, I am not a young rider, but I am a rider with extensive experience in the championship. My goal is to get to the next race and do my best.”

The inevitable question about why he hasn’t made the step to Moto2™ he brushes off as a matter of personal taste:“Moto3 is a category that requires a lot from me as a rider, more than if I was in Moto2, because here experience plays an important role. But it can also be a liability; is a category with very young people, "it’s easy" in quotes, and more docile than it was a 125cc with 2-stroke motorcycle. You fall a lot less.Young riders come in with such enthusiasm and courage and rideon the razor's edge – and if you stay upright,you go very fast.

“When I cameinto 125cc in 2007, I was a brave rider, but after several broken bones – feet, hands and collarbone –you leave a little courage behind and try to use your head more. In this category, a brave rider can get you into a lot of trouble. I always seek a balance between experience and courage, but sometimes you have to take risks beyond what would be needed, just to fight the people up front.Moto3 is a category in which the mechanical differences are small. It is important that the rider finds a good pace and is fast. But at the end of the race, it’s not always the fastest that wins. Sometimes the smartest or the most mischievous one wins. So I try to find that extra something that lets you enjoy the last lap in a good condition and be smart on track, which counts for a lot in this category.”

Even though he has discounted Moto2™ for this year, the question about a future step up remains. Though Vazquez’s desire to go up in cc appears limited: “Change category? It's something I've thought about. For several seasons I could have made the leap to Moto2, but it's not something that I pay much attention to. It gives little scope for improving as a rider, as a professional, and I see it almost as a single brand category.”

Looking ahead to his next challenge, Vazquez is hoping to have a better outing this year in Texas than last: “Yes, last year I came to Austin and found the track a bit tricky. After that we were unlucky because the race was stopped, and we had no new tires for the restart – an accumulation of things. It’s a complicated and technical track with a very long straight and fairly fast corners. Moreover, a rider’s mind does not work the same way after a podium as when you are riding a bike that just doesn’t go fast. And physically I'm not the same as in 2013 either. I've lost weight because I was asked to during the winter. So I’ll fight my hardest and see if we have a good weekend.”

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