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In an interview with Stefano Padovani, new Liqui Moly Intact GP recruit Tony Arbolino takes stock of his rollercoaster 2020 season, while looking ahead to his debut campaign in the Moto2™ class.
Q: Soon an adventure will begin for you with a new team and with a completely different bike in Moto2™. How are you preparing yourself?
“I am proud to join Moto2. The preparation is going well, I am trying to develop the arm muscles because it is a demanding bike especially for the upper body. I am proud to join this team because they have a great desire to fight and I am proud to work with them because they want to show that they can stay in the top positions.”
Q: Given the results of the final races in 2020, we imagine that you are more aggressive than ever…
“2020 was an important year for me. I had the opportunity to move up in the category already at the end of 2019 but in the end I chose to stay, to show that I still wanted to win where I was and to reclaim my qualities by confirming that I am a very strong rider in all conditions. I stayed because I wanted to grow even more and so it happened, I left Moto3 at the top even if I didn't win the title, which was my goal for 2020, but it's as if I had won it for all the satisfactions I have.”
Q: Covid-19 indirectly involved you because, despite returning negative results, you were prevented from entering Spain to compete in the Aragon GP. This meant you lost several important points in the standings and you eventually missed the title by just four points, are you afraid this could happen again in 2021?
“That was a bad situation, I was incredulous. I had to give up a race and a half because, having also the next Grand Prix on the same track, the others had made an important step forward. Although it was always negative, I was unable to compete in a GP but I don't want to look back. That day stayed with me there and I will never forget it but I am not angry, even if at the end of the year to see that I did not win the title by four points... it hurts.”
Q: Tell us about the feeling of racing without fans in the grandstands?
"When you have a good result, whether it's in free practice or in qualifying, you usually hear the cheering, the things that make your adrenaline rise even more. All of this is special and marks you, especially when you come from other leagues where there is not the same turnout. But, on the other hand, it's positive because when you win you don't realize you've done it because nobody rejoices, and this allows you to stay more focused (he says laughing)."
Q: What are the differences between a Moto3™ and Moto2™ bike, in terms of preparation, physical training and technically?
“It's not a more difficult bike than the Moto3 but you have to get used to the category. The pace is different, there are other strengths and weaknesses in the bike and it is important to understand them. I don't see great difficulties from a technical point of view compared to Moto3 because that too is a complex category. In Moto2 the bikes are all similar, you have to be able to make a difference and always look for perfection, characteristics that I have by nature, so I hope to be able to find tenths wherever possible, hoping to be competitive very soon.”
Q: Who do you think your most direct opponents will be as it is a category where all the riders are very close pace wise? Do you fear any rider in particular for this season?
“It is difficult to say who will be the favourite before the test. There are many strong names and our goal is to compete with them, to be competitive and try to place ourselves early on. I am very confident and hope to get to the top of the standings soon. I have never feared any particular rider but on the contrary, I will try to take advantage of the experience of others by observing them carefully to find out a little more of what they know.”
Q: You will be aiming for MotoGP™ and in recent seasons, many riders have arrived there rather quickly. There are also those who have arrived directly from Moto3™, so how do you view this step?
"Now I don't think about MotoGP. I know there may be possibilities and I'm confident of getting there in the future, but that transition will be the result of the work I will do in Moto2, just as the move to Moto2 was the result of all the work that I did in Moto3. It will be another stage in my life and career. After doing well in Moto2 I will move on to MotoGP, but first you have to do well in the current category. I am confident because I know what I can do, it will be difficult, especially at the beginning, but I am looking forward to becoming competitive in my new category. In my opinion it is not compulsory to respect all the steps but I think it helps a lot.”
Q: Who do you see among the favourites for Moto3™ and MotoGP™?
“For 2021 I see Jaume Masia as very strong and I would not underestimate Antonelli. In MotoGP I think Viñales and Quartararo will be a good couple and two more consistent riders along with Mir and Miller. I foresee this four-man challenge in premier class.”
Q: Last year Mir was the great surprise in MotoGP™, but many other youngsters only fought at the front on several occasions. If there had been Marc Marquez on track, do you think the fight would have been the same?
“In my opinion Marc is at another level, I would say higher. If he had been there for all the 2020 races he would have been the favourite and I think he would have won the title again.”
Q: Do you follow some examples or take inspiration from past riders or from current riders, rather than professionals involved in other sports?
“I try to take a cue from all the people who give me energy, motivation and give me confidence such as Conor McGregor, one of the great names in MMA (mixed martial arts)”.
1 month ago