Thursday 28 July 2016
As the MotoGP paddock enjoys a summer break between races, we took the opportunity to catch up with Sam about his 2016 season so far and the remainder of his final year in Moto2.
Halfway through the season, what has been your biggest achievement so far?
Winning in Jerez was the highlight of the season so far, for sure. As a team, we won the best lap overall, pole position and race. It was a solid performance from the whole team and showed how dominant we can be. That’s definitely something that I want to repeat in the second half of the season.
What happened in Germany? When you crash, does this lower your confidence for the following race?
No it doesn’t, as long as you know what has happened and the reasons for it; you can let crashing affect you mentally or use it as an experience to learn from and turn it into an opportunity to help you continually develop and improve. I choose to do the latter.
In Germany, qualifying wasn’t the best, but my race pace in the dry was okay. If the weather had brightened up, we would have been able to fight with the top guys for a competitive finish, but unfortunately race day was wet and I haven’t had much experience of riding the Kalex in those conditions, which made it more difficult. I’m confident that we will be back stronger in the second half of the season though.
How do you prepare for races and how do you celebrate a win?
My preparations involve the same routine of training every day, and then resting as much as possible the day before any race to ensure my body has recovery time and I can reserve maximum strength and energy for the race. I put everything into my preparation as I know it can make a difference throughout the weekend and ultimately to my results.
In terms of celebrating a win, it depends on what country I have visited and whether my travel arrangements mean I have a gap afterwards to have a small party. To be honest, sometimes it’s just nice to celebrate by having a nice meal with family and friends and sharing the moment with those closest to me.
What have you learnt since the start of the season? And how has this affected the way you go into each race?
As I said, I always try to have a similar routine; one of the most important things that has remained consistent is my self-belief, so I haven’t really felt the need to make changes to my approach.
Importantly, I’ve learnt that we can feasibly fight for this title and that gives me the motivation for the second part of the season. I believe we can win, but we need to stay strong throughout the next few races. My manager often reminds me that consistency is the key to securing a championship win – and with his track record of managing three British riders to four title wins he should know. I’m hoping I’ll give him title number five this year.
On reflection, what has been the most challenging part of the season so far and why?
There have been a few tests and I’ve had to learn to adapt to meet those challenges. For example, in some races this season we’ve had harder tyres than 2015 and my riding style is better suited to softer tyres, but I have enough experience to know that teething problems will always occur in the early part of the season and the way that you choose to deal with them is what determines how successful you’ll be. I know that riding to suit the tyres is something I have to work on in the second part of the season.
Have you raced on your favourite circuit yet?
I must say I have many favourite circuits; some I have already rode on this season, but some are still to come. Silverstone and Phillip Island are definitely two that stand out for me. The British GP as my home race will always be special and the support from fans when you’re close to home is amazing. It’s a shame that I won’t get the chance to race at Silverstone for my first year in GP but I’m looking forward to visiting there again this year with Moto2.
What race are you most looking forward to over the remaining circuits?
Every race, because I know there isn’t a race that we can’t fight to win. I’m enjoying the break, of course, but I can’t wait to get back on track.
Who has been your biggest competition this year and why?
From a championship contention perspective, Rins and Zarco are the biggest competition this year. The title fight is strong and Zarco has had a few really strong races, so it’s important that we fight back now and regain the advantage.
What would it mean for you to win the Championship?
It’s difficult to express in words what it would mean because it is everything to me; it’s my dream. I need to win!
What would you like to say to your supporters who have followed you this far?
I am always very thankful for all the support I get. It means so much to me and really helps, especially in the tough races. I’m often too hard on myself and my determination to succeed can seem as though I’m being negative about my achievements so far, but my supporters often help me to see that and point out my improvements even when things haven’t gone our way in a race.
I really hope we can win the next race and head to Silverstone fighting hard for the championship; it would be amazing to do that for the home crowd as a massive thanks for the support – it means a lot. I promise I will never give up and will keep fighting all the way.
How are you feeling about the transition into MotoGP?
Right now I am focussed on Moto2 and that will remain my main priority until the championship is over. The MotoGP tests I’ve done so far have been really positive and I’m happy and confident in the Aprilia project. I know we will do something very good next season but I’m not ready to think about that yet. I owe it to the team, myself, my manager, family and fans to give the Moto2 championship my all first.
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