|A victorious Scott Redding and his MarcVDS team at Le Mans
Photo: MarcVDS Racing
You seem to have confidence in abundance this season, not just on the bike, but off it as well…
I guess you could say my confidence is pretty high at the moment. Part of that is down to the results so far this season, especially as some of those results have come at tracks that are normally 50/50 for me at best.
I like Qatar, but Texas was new for everyone and we knew that all the frontrunners were going to be fast in Jerez, because we do so many testing laps there. It means that coming to Le Mans you’re thinking ‘okay, I was fast at tracks that don’t really suit me, but now we’re at a track that I like racing at,’ and that gives you a big confidence boost as well.
Is it just the results though, as you looked to be pretty confident going into the first race of the season in Qatar?
No, it’s not just the results. Confidence is also boosted by preparation and I think my preparation, both for the season and individual races, has been much better this year compared to previous seasons.
In the past I’ve had problems with the heat, with nerves, with all sorts of little things that conspired to knock my confidence. It wasn’t that I hadn’t prepared ahead of the races, but more that I was still learning how to prepare properly. There was a lot to take in and it took me a while to figure everything out.
Now I arrive at the track knowing that my preparation is good, knowing that I’m going to be fast and knowing that I’m going to finish the race, so there’s no reason for me to be nervous.
And that preparation starts with testing. In previous years the lap times in preseason testing were everything for me. I was quite happy to chuck tyres into the bike and push hard, just to see my name on the top of the timesheet. This year has been different. This year we’ve tested properly, evaluating a lot of different things on the bike to make sure we understand how the bike reacts when we change something. I wanted to do it right this year. Doing it this way has helped me a lot in understanding the mistakes I’ve made in the past so I don’t make them again.
So what has changed in your preparation for race weekends this season?
In the past I’d be going to races without much of a plan, other than to be faster than everyone every time I left the pit box. This approach worked well in practice, but then I’d be on the grid thinking I had a good race set-up only to find I didn’t about three laps in.
Now the preparation for each race starts at home, before I even travel to the track. I think about what the goal is for the weekend and how best to go about achieving that goal. Everything is pretty much planned out ahead of the weekend and, once I get to the track, I follow the plan, do nothing stupid and try to make sure I get through the weekend okay.
Sometimes the plan is very simple, to be fast in every session. This plays on the minds of the other riders. If they’re struggling and they see me go four tenths faster than them for sure they’re thinking ‘what do I have to do?’ I know this because I’ve been in the same situation. Both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro did it to me last year. Sometimes I’d be sat in the box wondering just what I had to do to close the gap, so they’d struck a blow even before I’d thrown a leg over the bike.
|It’s not just Marquez that drags his elbows…
Photo: MarcVDS Racing
Now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s me arriving at the racetrack looking to take maximum advantage of every session and to put as much pressure as possible on my rivals.
Does that mean you’re riding at 100% in every session?
No, because you increase the risk of a crash and injury when you’re on the absolute limit all the time. It’s the same with races; you simply can’t ride at 100% from lights to flag. You need to be fast, sure, but you also need to have something in reserve, especially if it comes down to a last lap sort out.
Like in Qatar, with Pol?
Yes, like in Qatar with Pol. I had a bit left in the tank and gave it a go on the last lap, but he held his head and it wasn’t quite enough. To be honest, I could have gone in harder, but the chance of contact was just too high. If we’d have touched then, yes, he could have gone down and I could have taken the win. But then it could have been me, or even both of us, that went down just as easily. For me it was better to come away with a certain second place and 20 points, rather than the possibility of a big repair bill for a crashed bike.
When your goal is the championship, rather than trying to win every race, it’s better to race at a pace that guarantees you’ll finish, rather than taking big risks just to stand on the top step of the podium. That doesn’t mean I won’t go for the win when it’s on, but it does mean I won’t ride over the limit when it’s not.
A lot of people have commented that it’s a much more mature Scott Redding we’re seeing this year. Now you’re no longer a teenager, do you think you have matured?
Yes, definitely. Okay, so I’m still only 20, so it’s not like I’m not wandering around with a pipe and slippers, but I think I have definitely matured, even compared to last year.
|The new, mature for 2013 Scott Redding. More wins to come.
Photo: MarcVDS Racing
To be honest, I’m a little disappointed that my approach wasn’t so mature in previous years. Look at Marquez; this was one of his strengths. He matured early, which meant his approach to racing was better. It’s taken me a little more time, but I’m there now.
So, more mature and more confident, a potent combination…
Like I said, when you arrive at a track knowing your preparation has been thorough then that inspires confidence, but coming into a race off the back of a run of good results just takes that confidence to the next level. When you’re confident then that’s 80% of your race done right there. Confidence just seems to make everything that little bit easier.
You also look like you’re enjoying racing the bike again, something that was maybe missing the last few years…
I enjoy it because the results are there. It gives you a lot of motivation for when you leave the track, for your training and things like that. When you have a crap weekend you go home and, sometimes, you can push yourself into training too hard to compensate, which means you arrive at the next race already fatigued. You can end up tying yourself in knots, trying too hard and then trying even harder when you don’t see any improvement.
When you have the results there’s less temptation to try and fix a problem that doesn’t actually exist. It’s more relaxed, nobody is stressing out, everyone is in a good mood, there’s a good atmosphere and it’s a lot easier to come and ride, and to enjoy it.
The win in Le Mans, your first in Moto2, must have added to the enjoyment, as well as being a monkey off your back…
Everyone has been saying for three years that my first win is just around the corner. Well, it was a bloody long corner! It was good to finally get the win at Le Mans, in what were difficult conditions, because now I don’t just know I can win; I’ve actually proved it. They say the first win is the hardest; let’s hope they’re right!
We’ll leave the last word to Olympic legend Carl Lewis “If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”