Portugal, Australia, Malaysia or Valencia: if everything goes to plan it is merely a matter of time before Jorge Martínez “Aspar” celebrates 125cc World Championship glory once again. As if that weren’t enough, his team is also still in with a shot of the 250cc title at the end of what has been little short of a dream season.
His riders have started out as contenders for victory at every round on a globetrotting journey of success, whilst at the end of the season he can look forward to taking delivery of a brand new Ducati as he prepares his assault on the MotoGP category with a Valencian rider in the saddle. The multiple-World Champion has every reason to be in high spirits at the culmination of what promises to be the best season yet since the birth of the Aspar Team.
The next Moto2 tests are just around the corner yet it seems as though everything is still very much at an embryonic stage.
It’s a new project and as such it involves a lot of changes. I’m curious to see how many bikes from different projects will be on track: Aprilia, Moriwaki, Queroseno, Sutter, Bimota, etc. I think there is still plenty of time, basically because the new rules allow us to test in December.
What does your experience tell you to expect from Moto2?
I think it is going to be very equal and there won’t be much difference between the top bikes running at the front. Obviously there could be the odd project that doesn’t meet expectations but not many. I’m sure the more established teams will use their experience to make the difference, in particular the riders. But with so much parity in terms of the machinery and also the chassis, the most important factor in deciding the lap time will be the rider.
‘Third time lucky!’ Finally it looks like your MotoGP dream will become a reality…
It looks like it! We’re finally going to be in MotoGP and I’m already looking forward to seeing the bike on track after the final Grand Prix of the season at Valencia.
What will having a presence in MotoGP do for the Aspar Team?
Lots of things. I think that merely competing in MotoGP gives you an air of credibility and strength. It is a way of offering your sponsors direct contact with international brands and with the world of motorcycling. For us and for our riders it is a stairway to the very top.
Will running the largest private structure in the paddock cause you to lose sleep?
It is obviously not easy to manage such a big team and there is a lot of work to be done. On more than one occasion I’ve thought about what an uphill battle it will be to put together a team of engineers, to find such a big budget. there are a lot of things to do. It won’t be easy to have such a big structure in all three categories and we will have to work hard.
Harder than ever?
To be honest my life is very fulfilling in terms of work. As my father used to say: “work and you will want for nothing.” The whole team, including myself, never stops for a minute and I feel happy to see that the sacrifice and consistency of this great team makes our structure bigger and more competitive year upon year.
Is having such loyal staff the key to achieving everything that you refer to?
There is no doubt that if I didn’t have such comprehensive technical and human support it would be impossible to progress. Anybody can set themselves big targets or put together projects that are successful for a short amount of time, but to be successful over a long period requires a great team of people working together – without that it would be absolutely impossible to be working on the amount of things that we are doing now.
Is the icing on the cake the fact that you will have a Valencian rider in MotoGP?
As a Valencian, having a rider from the same soil in my team is fundamental. If on top of that he happens to be a great rider, as is the case with Héctor, so much the better. I hope and wish for our project with him in MotoGP to be a long term one.
Was Simón’s good form to be expected after what we saw in preseason?
The season doesn’t always pan out the same way as preseason. Sometimes you start out the strongest and then other riders and teams catch up, or make more progress than you. Julián has been incredibly solid from day one and I think the way he reprogrammed himself was very impressive. He started out at a higher level than everybody else and I’m sure he went into the season thinking that he could win every race, although he has gradually learnt to make sacrifices and take second place or even fourth where necessary – maybe his attitude changed after his mistake at Jerez. As a team we’re really happy with him because he is developing into a very complete rider.
Do you see him as the World Champion already, as the rest of the paddock seems to do?
He has shown a resounding level of superiority in the 125 class this year and he has been a step above everybody else. If nothing strange happens, because you can’t take anything for granted in racing, I think the World Championship title is in his hands.
It looks like a more difficult task for Bautista but is it an impossible one?
I’m confident that Álvaro will slam his fist on the table, start to get angry with himself and go on the attack in a more aggressive way. I have to admit that at some races I was the first person to tell him to be prudent and to work out who his main rival was going to be, and to be conservative if necessary. Now the time has come to wake up and take another step forward. Luckily at Misano we started to see that side of Álvaro Bautista.
How do you reflect on the season for your other 125cc riders?
Gadea made an okay start, recovered and was sensational in the middle part of the season. Over the last three races he hasn’t had much luck but I think that he has improved a lot on past seasons because he has worked out how to turn his situation around, recover and do well. It is a similar story for Smith – he has been very fast at certain circuits but not at others. This is probably the first time they have been fighting to win at every circuit and that is not easy for a rider to take on board.
How about Mike?
He made a fantastic start to the season but then crashed in Japan, had problems with his arm at Jerez and that set him back for a while. It was a shame because a series of things have happened that have prevented him from exploding like we expected. Luckily he is feeling better and better on the bike, he is getting faster and he is more complete as a rider. Hopefully all our riders can finish the season near the top.
Can you give us an insight into the riding style of each of your riders?
Julián is very aggressive and he is very good on the brakes. You could say that he likes to feel the front end of the bike and his riding position is probably more suited to a bigger category than 125. Smith lets the bike run a lot more, he’s smoother and he likes to have high corner speed – he doesn’t brake as much as Julián. Gadea is possibly the most aggressive out of the three and the one who moves around most on the bike, which is an aspect I think he needs to work on improving. Álvaro is very smooth, he works extremely hard and he is very consistent in practice. Maybe he’s missing a little aggression. Mike is improving a lot and he has a position on the bike that I like a lot because he loads the front, which is a good way to control the bike.
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