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Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Scott Redding chats exclusively to motogp.com about his difficult 2015, the Sepang test and his aims for 2016.
Scott Redding joined the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team for 2016 after finishing 13th in the Championship standings in 2015 and parting ways with his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team:
Scott, just how tough was last season?
“Last year was difficult for me, not just me, but also for the team. We expected a lot more. I expected more from myself with the bike, they expected more from me, so it was a struggle all year round really, especially as we apparently had the all singing and dancing factory bike and we couldn’t get any results. It kind of made a tough year even more tough for me.”
Did it get to a stage where you were trying too hard?
“Yeah, I tried everything. I tried trying too hard; I tried not trying at all. It just wore me down in the end. I was just going race by race and doing the practices, and giving it my all in the races. It didn’t make any difference how hard I pushed in practice and qualifying, it was just always the same story. It was only in the race where I could make a difference by being consistent and stuff. That’s what I was doing and the bike was so different to the factory bikes after the Le Mans race. They changed the chassis and exhaust, throttle body, stuff like that, so it wasn’t even the same bike. I was left struggling while they got more improvements to help them, when they were already at the front. It was hard to see that.”
As soon as you joined the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team, things seemed to change immediately…
“Yeah that is something that comes with the job. When you are not getting results it’s hard to stay motivated. You can do it for a certain amount of time, but for a year it’s impossible. Then I lost belief in myself, I was struggling and I didn’t think I could do it. I was questioning whether it was me as a rider, then when I got on the Ducati I felt immediately better on the bike, my confidence started to grow. Then in Jerez when I was pretty fast, it boosted my confidence a lot and then also the same thing happened in Sepang. Every time I get on the bike I get mentally stronger and I have more self-belief that I can do it again.
“The thing for me last year was that I tried everything. We tried everything with the bike, we tried stuff with me, and it came down to…well it must be the rider! That’s when it started to wear me down the most as I just thought, “Well maybe it is me!” It is the same with any high level sport; it all comes down to self-belief. If you don’t believe you can do it, how is anyone else going to believe you can do it? That is a big thing to lose and a hard thing to gain back. You can spend years building your confidence and it can be gone within two or three races, so it is hard to stay mentally strong. Since I joined the Pramac team, everything is a bit more of a level playing field and I feel like I am back in the game.”
With this in mind, how did it affect your offseason?
“It’s definitely a lot better going through the winter without any pressure. Last year I spent my off season with no idea what was going on really and with no idea about how things were going to go. In Valencia I was quicker on the Open bike so I was already in trouble heading into our two months off. At least this year after the Jerez test where I was on top of the timesheets, I felt good and I could go through the winter without feeling that pressure. When things are looking up, things are good, you are motivated to train more and you are generally more relaxed as a person. That makes everything a lot easier, you don’t stress out, and is all those little things that can make a huge difference.”
At the Sepang test, you finished 7th overall ahead of the factory riders and Casey Stoner, how did you find it?
“The test was really good for us, we used two soft tyres the whole time. One on the first day in the morning to check everything was all right, so I couldn’t use the potential and I ended up setting my fastest time on the hard tyre. The next day I went out with a new soft tyre and set another fastest lap, then went out on the harder tyre and went even quicker. I got faster and faster on the hard tyre, which a lot of people did, but I was taking quite big chunks out of my time. When you see the gap to the leaders from the first day to the third day, I managed to close it a little bit. That was nice for me to see. Last year I would go out in FP1 and be in the top six and then it was a downhill spiral from there. Now I get on the bike, I can put new tyres in and improve; I can match my lap time and also improve on old tyres. That was the biggest thing for us really, especially when you consider the engine we had for Sepang was pretty slow. I was saying to the guys I couldn’t ride it any harder, can we check the data against Casey’s? It turned out we were losing six-tenths on the two straights at Sepang, which I was happy to see as it means I was riding well, it was just down to engine performance. Again, it took some more pressure off and I am happy to work hard in testing and then get some more power for the races.”
How do think the new technical regulations will affect the racing year, can a satellite rider like yourself win a race?
“I think it will be possible, there is no reason why not. When everyone has the same electronics, as a rider, you can maybe make up a couple of percent here and there just down to your riding. When you are already on the back foot you can’t do that. I think in the first few races especially we have a good chance of being competitive, and then we will have to see what happens. For sure, Honda and Yamaha are going to do some other things and Suzuki as well will try new stuff, but I think it will be good racing throughout the whole season. I actually feel like I have a chance to show my full potential, which I haven’t been able to do for the last two years.”
So what are your aims for the season?
“My target is to try and be in the top six. A few people laughed at me when I said that but the Sepang test results show that we are not far off that mark. What people also seem to forget is that Sepang was only my fourth, fifth and sixth day on the new bike and also on the new Michelins. Where the factory riders of Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki had all tested on the Michelins last year. So every time I go out I am learning more about the tyres, I am learning more about the bike. It is getting easier for me while a lot of these guys are hitting their ‘wall’ already, where I am just getting stronger.”
After the last couple of seasons, how important is this season for you career-wise?
“It is a make or break year. To be honest I thought my career was all over last year because I did have a two-year deal with Honda and the team, but after Indianapolis if I carried on what I was doing it was going to be a short-lived career. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen, so I turned around to my team manager, who was also my personal manager at the time and said, “Sorry but I can’t take the risk of riding this bike next year. Honda have promised so many things to us, but what have we actually got…nothing.”
I couldn’t afford that again. That was when I decided to go to Ducati; I thought I’d take the risk as what was the worst that could happen? I’ll make the same results as I had that year. So for me it was positive all round, and so far it has proven to be the right choice!”
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