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What have you been up to since the end of the 2018 season?
I haven’t stopped! I got married in December and we went travelling to Kenya. After that we came home for Christmas but as soon as 2019 started we moved to Valencia, where the Ángel Nieto Team is based, and we have been here for a month and a half so far. I have been training in Valencia with Nico Terol and also sometimes with Albert Arenas, riding flat track, motocross… trying out different disciplines and just riding a lot. I’ve definitely made the most of the winter break.
After all that you must have been looking forward to getting back on the KTM. What is your assessment of the first test of 2019?
The first test at Jerez was difficult for us but I think it was the same for the rest of the teams because everything was new and it was the first time anybody had used the Triumph engines. Gradually we are getting to know the bike and I am getting to know the team, and in Valencia it was 100% better. I feel like we made constant progress over the two days of the test.
Do you feel ready now for this new challenge?
Yes. After two tests I am feeling more and more comfortable and the bike has improved. The team is working really well and the track conditions at Valencia were good, so we were able to make the most of the time and continue our preparations for this season.
In 2019 the riders and teams in the intermediate category are all starting virtually from scratch with the change in engine size. Also, in your case, you’re making the switch from British Superbikes. Is there a big difference between the two championships?
There is a huge difference. The bikes in BSB are street bikes turned into race bikes whereas the KTM is a race bike, built specifically for that purpose. There are lots of differences, from the engine, which is 765cc rather than 1000cc, to the tyres, which might be the biggest change for me. I am going to have to work hard with them, to understand how they work and keep improving my feeling so that I can push them to the limit. Off track, the GP paddock seems more quiet, more calm. In BSB there are a lot of support races and even though there are a lot of fans here too, you don’t tend to see the riders much because everybody is focusing on their own job.
You also have nineteen new challenges this year in that you have nineteen circuits to go to that you barely know...
Yes. I have ridden at Silverstone, obviously, as well as Assen, Valencia and Jerez. I have been to Aragón and Catalunya before too but that was a few years ago… it is not much but I am ready for what’s coming. The track I am most looking forward to is Mugello – it looks really fast and you can see how passionate the fans are. I grew up watching Valentino Rossi and when I was little he won the MotoGP race there for seven straight seasons, so I am really looking forward to that race.
What goals have you set for 2019?
I haven’t really set any goals yet. As soon as you set a target you can become very focused on it and that can turn into a problem if you don’t get the results you need. Then you start to try too hard and maybe because the bike isn’t quite right or you still don’t completely understand it, or for whatever other reason, you crash and lose confidence. What I can say is that I will not stop working because that is how we will make progress and be able to set some high targets towards the end of the season.
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