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Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) began his premier class career by impressing. Hitting the ground running in Valencia and fast once again in Sepang, the German rookie then blasted up into the top four at Phillip Island – fastest rookie and top Independent Team rider; growing in confidence.
Folger recently spoke to motogp.com about this new stage in his career, fresh from Phillip Island and counting down to Qatar. First, how was the preparation for the premier class?
Jonas Folger: “I trained harder, I trained more and I especially concentrated on weight training. I also tried to spend a lot of time over the winter on a motorbike."
Now getting to grips with the YZR-M1 and seeing that pay off, what is the best thing about the bike – and are there improvements still to be made?
JF94: “After the tests until now I think we have quite positive impressions and are quite happy so far. We still have to improve in some points but small points. Overall we made strong progress throughout the tests and if Qatar is the same as the last tests, I think we can have a strong race weekend. The strongest points of the bike are the stability, and also what I found out when I did a run of race distance. Even on used tyres and low fuel, the bike is still able to stay stable and make similar laptimes to on new tyres.”
So after getting off to such a good start, what is the goal for the season?
JF94: “Definitely to be the fastest rookie, that’s for sure. To be consistent. And maybe to have a few surprise results during 2017.”
Rookie of the Year will be a coveted prize this year, with Folger joined by twice Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco in the Monster Tech 3 Team, and Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Alex Rins and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Sam Lowes also moving up to the premier class – all rivals who know each other well from Moto2™. So how is life now sharing a box with Zarco?
JF94: “I think with Johann I have the strongest rookie in the team, which is good – because we share the same data, bike and team. So I can learn a lot directly from him. I’ve already learnt a lot from him already and I think it’s a great competition, because every time I’m a little bit faster he improves, and when he goes faster I try to beat him again – so it’s good to have this relationship with a teammate. He’s also a great person and a great rider, and our relationship is great, very relaxed.”
That lack of intimidation spreads to the rest of the grid – with Folger ready for the 20-strong challenge of lining up for the first race of the year at Losail International Circuit, and the countdown ticking down.
JF94: “There is no rider I fear. They are all riders I have a lot of respect for, but respect and fear are two different things. We will see after the first race weekend how riders behave in the race but I expect a fair competition from every rider.”