British Talent Team Honda rider John McPhee says he’s in a position to become the second British rider to challenge for the Moto3 world title in only three seasons, after a strong start to the season at the Qatar Grand Prix.
Taking second place – and only denied the chance to win by a last lap mistake scuppered his plans – he says that he now believes that he can replicate the success of Danny Kent’s incredible championship-winning run of form in 2015.
“I believe I’m a title contender now. Even before the podium, that’s been the way we’ve approached the season, through preseason testing, training, everything. I’ve got a great opportunity and all the boxes ticked, but with that comes a bit more pressure to show the results – but there’s no reason now why we can’t fight for the title. I believe we’ve got enough talent and skill, and hopefully we can win more races and be there at the end of the year.”
Able to make the most of the huge top end power of the factory-supported Honda compared to last year’s underpowered Peugeot-branded Mahindra machine to first bridge across into and then sit at the front of the lead group for the entire race last weekend, he was upbeat afterwards even despite losing out on the chance for the win.
“It’s probably the first time you’ve ever heard me not complain about top speed! I owe a massive thanks to Honda, because the bike was so strong. With my size and weight and with one of my strengths this year being corner exit, everything is really working well. The others in the podium were on the exact same bike as me and I could still pass them in a straight line.
“The engine was really strong, and I was trying to understand if I could pass them at the start finish line, before the line, or after it. I knew that to win the race I had to come out of the last corner in second place and did exactly that – lined it all up perfectly and then made a small mistake with three corners to go. It was totally my mistake though, and it mean that unfortunately I wasn’t quite able to get Joan at the finish line.”