Redding raring to go in 2012
Great things were expected of Scott Redding in his first year in the Moto2 World Championship, but it didn’t quite go according to plan in the opening races of the 2010 season.
In fact it wasn’t until the Indianapolis GP, more than halfway through the year, that Redding took his first podium finish. He backed that up with a hard fought second place in Australia, securing himself a top ten finish in the final championship standings. Not what he was hoping for at the start of the year but his improved performance, not to mention the two podiums, during the second half of the season was enough for him to be touted as a potential title contender in 2011.
It was potential that went unrealised.
Redding struggled to get to grips with the 2011 Suter Moto2 machine from the outset. He looked uncomfortable on the bike, unsurprising given the fact that he’s just over six feet tall, but his size wasn’t the only issue. Despite trying numerous set-up options during the course of the season, Redding and his crew simply couldn’t get the bike to work consistently.
Even more demoralising was the fact that when the bike did work, as it did at Aragon where Redding was battling at the front during the early stages of the race, the tyres would drop off significantly after just ten laps, leaving the Marc VDS rider struggling for grip.
Bull in a china shop
But Redding is nothing if not resilient. He’ll return to Moto2 this season, once again in the distinctive colours of the Marc VDS Racing Team, but this time his approach is a little different to previous years.
“In the past I may have been guilty of going at the season a bit like a bull in a china shop as soon as testing started,” says Redding, who turned 19 in January. “I just couldn’t wait to get started and I just wanted to top the timesheet at every test.”
“The problem, especially last year, is that we finished testing fast and with what we thought was a set-up on the bike that would work. Unfortunately, when we got to the first race we realised that it didn’t work and we were having problems that we should have fixed during the tests.”
“This year I need to resist the temptation to start looking for a fast lap from day one of the tests. Instead I need to focus on finding a set-up on the bike that allows me to lap both quickly and consistently. If that means I’m not right on the pace from the first lap at Valencia then that’s okay. The aim is to be on the pace every lap, but finding a set-up that allows speed and consistency takes time.”
“We need to get everything right from day one of the test. We need to go in the right direction with the set-up from the start and, just as importantly, we need to check and recheck any changes we make to the bike. That way we don’t get any nasty surprises come the first race like we did last year.”
The new bike
Redding talks about what he’s going to do during pre-season testing, but the process actually started back in November. After finishing the final race of the 2011 season at Valencia, Redding’s Suter MMXI was replaced in the Marc VDS pit box by the new Kalex Moto2 machine he’ll campaign this season. His first outing on the new bike at Valencia was curtailed by wet weather, but the Marc VDS rider was quick to get to grips with the Kalex during the final test of the season at Jerez, where he topped the timesheet on all three days.
“The Kalex is a completely different ballgame,” declares Redding, enthusiastically. “Now I actually feel like I stand a chance, a feeling that was missing for most of last year. The bike is so consistent and easy to ride, whereas before I felt like I was going to crash in every corner. It wasn’t a nice feeling!”
“I have much more confidence in the new bike, and that’s important. I don’t feel like I’m right on the edge when I’m pushing the bike hard, which gives me the confidence to push it even harder.”
“The other big difference is how the Kalex works the tyres. Last year the rear started to go off after just five laps, forcing me to ride on the front. After ten laps both tyres were done and I was struggling to find grip. Aragon was probably the best example of this. In the early stages I was quite happy running the same pace as Bradl and Marquez at the front, but then the tyres dropped off as usual and I couldn’t stay with them. As you can imagine, it was frustrating!”
“We did race simulations with the Kalex at Jerez and the difference was incredible. The tyre just didn’t go off and, as the fuel load got lighter, the grip just got better. The drop off came only in the last four or five laps and, even then, it was really gradual. It came as a bit of a shock, as I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It was definitely the bike, because I wasn’t riding any differently.”
“In terms of the bike, we’re definitely starting this year in a better position than in previous seasons.”
So Redding goes into the new season with a new approach, a new bike and, it has to be said, without the hype that surrounded him last year. But was the pressure an issue last year; was it maybe a contributory factor in his early season results?
“It’s difficult to say, because I don’t really feel the pressure. Yes, I could have been under pressure last year, but I don’t think I was really aware of it. I think the biggest issue last year was that I set myself goals and then tried to override the bike to achieve them. As I found out, it doesn’t work like that.”
“In Qatar, last year and the year before, I was quick in the first practice but then my lap times didn’t get any better. I think the problem was that we hadn’t really thought about what happens next. Now we know we need to be looking a couple of steps ahead all the time, so that if something doesn’t work, we’re already thinking about what we need to do to fix it.”
“Also, now I’m a bit older and, I hope, a bit wiser, I know I need to ride as hard as I can, but without trying too hard and overriding the bike, if that makes sense? Maybe it doesn’t make sense; it’s hard to explain, but I know what I mean and I know what I need to do.”
Redding’s focus is on testing at the moment, but the first round of the 2012 Moto2 World Championship in Qatar is just two short months away. Are his expectations as high as they were last year, or has he set himself attainable goals for both the first race and the coming season?
“It’s always good to start the season with a good result. Ideally I want to be top five in Qatar, but top three would obviously be better. If I can manage a top five finish then it would certainly be a better start to the season than I had last year, when I only just managed to avoid finishing dead last in Qatar!”
“As for the rest of the season; if the bike is as good as it’s been in the tests so far, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be, then I want to be fighting in the top five at every race.”
In a Moto2 field that’s 32 riders strong there’s a good chance that those top five places will be oversubscribed, but who does Redding see as his biggest rivals this season?
“Marquez is obviously going to be fast and consistent again and, after missing out last year, he’s going to be gunning for the championship. De Angelis will be up there, as will Takahashi, Lutthi and Iannone. Smith and Espargaro are both capable of running at the front, and the same is true of Simon and Corsi.”
“I wouldn’t count out Elias either. The championship has changed a lot since he won it in 2010, but he’s got a point to prove once again and he’ll be pushing hard from the off.”
“It’s a strong field again in Moto2. Finishing in the top five isn’t going to be easy, but that’s where I want to be and that’s what I’ll be pushing for, starting in Qatar in April.”