It has been a year since Jonas Folger took his maiden MotoGP™ podium at the Sachsenring, and a long time since the German sat down to talk about the past, present or future. But ahead of the same event this season, Folger spoke to motogp.com to look back at the ‘best race of his life’, talk about what he’s up to now – and see where the future may lie.
Where to start? As good as place as any seems a year ago, on the second step of the podium at home, behind only ‘King of the Sachsenring’ Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
“I was so happy to be on the podium, it was like a victory for me,” begins Folger as he looks back. “It was my first podium, at my home GP, and where I’d always struggled in the past. It was the best moment in my career and the best race of my life. It was a really busy weekend because it was my home GP so I had so much to do and no free time…but maybe that was a good thing because I didn’t have time to think a lot and I was just riding with an open mind.”
That open mind saw the German mix it with the likes of Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa, as well as leading the race and almost winning it – something he says felt a little surreal.
“The race was incredible, I was fighting with Marc and it felt a bit unreal. I’d never been in that position with Dani, and Marc…and passing Jorge after a few laps…it was a really strange feeling because when you challenge those guys the first time in the race, and overtake them, it’s a strong feeling and it feels a bit unreal. But really nice!”
So what was the key to the sudden charge to the front? It had been an impressive rookie season for the German up to the Sachsenring, but not quite on the level of challenging the reigning Champion on one of his best tracks.
“The secret is riding. In the end if you’re strong in your mind and you feel comfortable, and you’re so in the flow of your riding and on the limit every corner and every second, you can ride fast with any bike.” But, “the most important thing at the Sachsenring is front feeling.”
Last year it was Folger who had it and then-teammate Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who struggled with it – something they’re both hoping will change this year.
“I hope Johann can use my data! I watch him every race, he’s a good friend and my ex-teammate so I’m cheering for him. At Turn 11 I gained a lot because I had so much confidence in the front, but Johann is such a strong rider if he has confidence in the front I’m sure he’s going to have an amazing podium again.”
It’s certainly possible – as Folger showed – but time will tell, which is true for a lot. So putting the brakes on the reminiscing and focusing further forward, where is he now?
“I’ve just arrived back in Germany. I’ve been on a long trip through Europe…testing at Aragon and I had another test at Brno last week. I was testing the Triumph at Brno with the Kalex guys, just to see how we can change the chassis and they had some new items to test. The electronics guys were there too, and the moment it’s quite a young project so we’re making big steps.”
Something quite different to the Yamaha he was on last season, and something he says will be interesting – with a good base on both to be able to compare, having won three races on the Honda-powered Kalex during his time in Moto2™.
“In Brno I was riding with Alex Marquez, he was on the Honda and I was on the Triumph. The lines are really different, with the Triumph you have to be more on the MotoGP line. You enter straighter, you have a bit less corner speed and you exit tighter. You’re able to do it because the Triumph has more torque, and you can play a bit more with the electronics. It will make the gap between Moto2 and MotoGP smaller for sure. And the teams have more options to play with the bike, it will be more interesting on the technical side and on the rider side, because you’re closer to a MotoGP bike and the preparation for riders stepping up will be better.”
Preparation…is that was this is, then? Preparation for a comeback next season? Or riding for the love of riding, and putting experience to good use? Asked about what he’s doing next year, there’s no answer yet – simply that he’ll definitely, definitely be riding.
“I’ve just ridden twice so I still need to ride a few times more. At the moment I can’t say if I’m going to race or not. But for sure I know I’ll be on a bike, doesn’t matter whether it’s racing or testing. As soon as I feel fit enough and strong enough to believe I can do a whole season or two seasons and more years, I’ll come back to racing.”