It was a mixed year for Brits in the MotoGP paddock. MCN Sport asked four of our top riders for their verdicts. Today, Scott Redding tells all
bviously this year didn’t go to plan. How much of that comes down to you, the team or is it just the level of competition in MotoGP?
We got more competitive but we just didn’t get the feeling with the bike from the beginning of the season. I wouldn’t say it took my confidence away, but it was hard. The bike was hard for Marquez to ride, so for me – without the experience he has with the Honda – it was even more difficult. You’re constantly battling. It’s never flowing your way, so that’s what made it difficult for me and for the team. We expected to get top eight results, that was my target. But in the end it didn’t really play out like that and we just have to keep working and trying to improve.
Did last year with Gresini teach you anything?
Not really. This was the other problem. For me, this is effectively my first year in MotoGP because with the Open bike the chassis worked really well, the soft tyre worked good for the lap times, we had normal grip and not so much power. Compare that with now, when we have more power, less grip and no soft tyre. So it was hard because I started at a high level, then I didn’t get upgrades. In fact I got things taken away. The chassis handling, the tyre, the smooth power – I lost all those things, which made it very difficult for me.
For the last 20 years everyone always wanted a factory Honda. What has it been like working with the Japanese guys and did they give you confidence that they could sort things out?
The thing is it’s not a factory Honda, this is the problem. When we first came for the test it was more or less the same bike as the factory team’s, but now it’s like Marc has a complete different chassis, exhaust, swingarm. In my opinion I feel like Honda, not that they don’t care about me, but they weren’t willing to really push to help me. They never came and said, ‘Okay, you have to ride the bike like this to be smoother’. They always let us find out what was the problem. We had to waste the time to try things to see if they worked. And that was the bit that annoyed me – they didn’t really back us. And the chassis is pretty shit, to be honest. Marquez was complaining like hell about it and then they gave him the chassis to go back to 2014 or whatever it was. I was also struggling like hell in a situation where the chassis was making the most difference, but I was forced to struggle for the rest of the season. So for me that was the biggest downfall. It was a factory bike but you didn’t even get close to the same thing as the factory guys. That’s a problem.
When you look at Marc, Dani and Cal, what do you see they’re doing that you’ve not been able to do?
Mainly it’s just the way they’re entering the corner in terms of speed and the line. That is the biggest difference compared to me. My biggest difficulty with this bike is when I get to full lean angle I lose turning compared to the smaller riders. So that’s why Philip Island and Silverstone were not too bad [Scott was 6th at Silverstone] because they are places where you don’t always spend a lot of time at full lean angle.
For three years Ducati has been chasing you and they seem to offer more parity to riders. How important is that, given the Honda situation?
Yeah, you can see with Ducati that everyone is more or less the same. [Danilo] Petrucci and Yonny [Hernandez] are also sometimes in front of the factory guys, which is quite a big thing. I think Ducati is more like a family. The Japanese are very strict and everything has to be within 0.0001 of how they want it. You can’t do it any other way. You want to try something new and it never happens. But with Ducati if you said, ‘I want to try the front brake on the left side’, they’d be happy to try it. And that’s their biggest difference. It’s a bit more my style of racing, to try and see if you can improve, even in other areas.
You mentioned family. Obviously VDS has been your family for five years – how important is that for you?
When I went to Gresini I felt a little bit like an outsider and it felt a bit strange. Then when I came back here [to Marc VDS] it was nice. But in Ducati all the people are quite open, easy. And I actually have a good feeling already with all the guys there. I’m already making jokes and sometimes doing motocross with Francesco [Guidotti, Pramac team manager]. It’s quite a relaxed sort of style, but when it comes to doing the job they look like they do it well.
You’ve been doing triathlons and duathlons this year. Are they to relax or are they just an another competitive outlet for you?
I enjoy them, and next year I’ll have to see what the situation is with the championship and whether I can continue doing them. It wasn’t that I lost motivation here, but I didn’t really get the adrenaline and the competitive feed that I needed, and that’s what I got with the triathlon – also with supermoto racing. Just to enjoy racing.
Sometimes when you’re not making results you don’t enjoy it. And if you don’t enjoy it, you don’t want to do it. So it was nice to have those feelings again.
Words Steve English Photos G&G, Tony Goldsmith, Steve English