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Sam, you’re currently second in the Moto2™ championship standings, just 8 points behind Alex Rins with seven races gone. How would you assess your start to the season?
“I’m really happy! The last race wasn’t ideal; it was bad for a lot of reasons. I was actually disappointed with the race, but in the end I was happy to get out of there and start focusing on Assen, which is a track I really like. I respected the decision to change the track, while it wasn’t great for me; I was 100% behind the decision. I just couldn’t make the best of it. That’s Moto2™! If you have a bad weekend and you finish sixth, you have got to be happy, as it could easily have been 15th.”
"That's when you make the big mistake..."
This year is the first in your career that you haven’t recorded a DNF in the first seven races of a season, have you changed you’re your approach in anyway to allow you be a bit more consistent, or is this you just getting more confident and adapting to the class?
“Definitely, if I want to try and fight for the Championship, I know that I can’t be chucking it down the road. It’s the days when you are struggling most when you do crash, because you are trying to make it happen and not being smart. That’s when you make the big mistake.”
With Zarco just a further 2 points behind you in the standings, do you now see it as a three-way battle for the title now?
“I have always said my title rivals would be Rins and Zarco. When Zarco had one or two bad races, everyone was counting him out. He won the second race of the year, then people were writing him off after Jerez. I suppose that’s Moto2, but for me it’s always been myself, Zarco and Rins. Hopefully I can keep taking the fight to them. If you had said to me in Japan last year that after seven races I would be two points ahead of Zarco, I’d have bitten your hand off. I don’t know why people were writing him off, I never did. Rins was fast last year and he was always going to make a bit of a step this year. It’s going to be tough, but it should be a great battle between us all. I know that I can beat them. I’ve got some good tracks coming up, but I’ve got a good bike. They are the best two riders and if I can be running with them and beat them, then it’s good for me.”
You have your first test coming up on the Aprilia RS-GP, how excited are you?
“Yeah I am actually going to the wind tunnel this week first with Kalex and Aprilia in Italy, which will be nice as I have never done that before. I didn’t come up through 125’s and 250’s and it’s a bit different getting tucked in on a Supersport bike, so maybe we can find something in that area. Then after Assen I get my first go on the Aprilia and I really cant wait!”
"I am just going to go out, ride and enjoy it!"
What do you think will be the biggest difference to your current Moto2™ bike?
“I think the stopping power with the carbon brakes is quite big. Plus I think the electronics side of things, but I have a bit of experience with that in Supersport. While that was nothing like MotoGP, at least I have a little bit of knowledge. So for me it’s the extra power and the stopping ability, plus of course the tyres, but that is applicable to anytime you change series. I’m not trying to think too much about it. I am just going to go out, ride and enjoy it.”
You have a deal with Aprilia for the next two years in MotoGP™, but there has been a lot of talk about teams approaching you in the paddock. Were you tempted or are you committed to Aprilia?
“For me it was a case of, I have signed my deal and I am really happy with it. It’s a great option; the bike is only going to get better from what it is now. If you look at Rins and Zarco they also have deals in MotoGP next year and they won’t really be in a much better position than me. With their records, that makes me quite happy. I also have a great package and team behind me now with Gresini, so for me it will be great to go into MotoGP with that behind me. You always want to be riding next to Marquez or Rossi, but for me the Aprilia project looks really good and since I signed that contract last year I have not considered anything else.”
"For me it was a case of, I have signed my deal and I am really happy with it!"
Do you think it will be an advantage to have Rins, Zarco & Folger to compare yourself against next year in your debut season in MotoGP™?
“Yeah massively! I think it will be good to have them all there; in fact it will be great. Plus of course there will be the new bike from KTM to compare ourselves against. I don’t really feel the pressure, don’t get me wrong going to MotoGP is a pressure in itself, but we will try and do the best job we can. For me it will be nice to have them to gauge ourselves against, otherwise you don’t know how well you are actually doing.”
4 years ago