Courtesy of MotoGP
Danny Kent is confident of pushing for the Moto3™ world title in 2015 as he switches from Husqvarna to Honda machinery. With a Moto2™ return already penciled in for 2016, the Englishman has reason to be optimistic.
Speaking with motogp.com this week, Kent was testing his Honda in Almeria where he continued to share Kiefer Racing’s currently sole machine with team-mate Efren Vazquez. This follows a season of returning to Moto3 from Moto2, racing for Husqvarna and achieving three front row starts and two rostrum finishes. He challenged for victory on a number of occasions in the second half of the campaign.
Danny, how do you sum up the season gone by?
Basically, the first half of my 2014 season was a replica of 2012. We were really struggling and didn’t have a good base setting. We would work all weekend-long to try and find a good feeling, which we just were not finding. Suddenly, things just started to work after Assen. We went to Brno and finished on the podium and at every race after that we were able to run at the front and show podium pace. We had a pole position and many chances for podiums, such as Phillip Island and again in Valencia.
What was it that changed for results to suddenly improve?
We knew from the first half of the year, when results weren’t coming, that we needed to do something different. So we started to set the bike up in the opposite direction to get better with it. Things then started to feel better, the lap times came easier and we were finding ourselves up at the front.
Towards the end of the season, Alex Marquez’s team protested that you had deliberately slowed on the final lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix in a bid to assist Jack Miller’s title challenge. What was your view of events?
At the end of that race, we sat down at looked at all of the data. I had made one mistake with a small moment early in the lap. But for the rest of that lap I was half a second faster than I had been at any other point in the race, so they can’t say I was slowing him down. I was just thinking about my own race, as everybody was.
You proved on many occasions that you could have claimed a victory, but you ended the season without a win. Was that frustrating?
It was a bit frustrating not to win, but I was relieved to show the doubters that I could still do it, consistently racing at the front and mixing it up. That is a great help in terms of my confidence ahead of 2015. I have now had another year in Moto3, so we can really head into next season with a good team and a good bike, on a high.
In 2014, before the season started, we set a benchmark to fight for the championship. However, we didn’t take into account how much faster the Moto3 field was and how the bikes had improved since 2012 – the lap times were half a second faster.
You have now switch to Kiefer Racing, riding a Honda. How is it going?
At the moment, we only have one bike which I am sharing with Efren Vazquez, so track time is quite limited. We had half a day in Valencia which was a very positive first test; the feeling with the Honda and the team was immediately really good. We don’t have so many parts to try at the moment in terms of things like springs, but we have tried to work around that.
What is the approach heading into the season itself?
The first few races will be crucial. We need to be there winning, right from the beginning. I can’t do what I did in 2014, which was start off a long way down and then improve dramatically halfway through the year. We have to start strong and stay up at the front all the way through the season.
In 2014 you were often fighting with the likes of Alex Marquez, Jack Miller and Alex Rins. All three have now moved up to other classes. Does that feel strange?
I guess it doesn’t feel strange. The thing is, in 2013 I took the step up to Moto2 one year too soon. That was a big mistake on my behalf. In the meantime, many of the other guys had an extra year in Moto3; I had missed that year and had to learn everything all over again when I returned.
With that ‘mistake’ in mind, will you adopt a cautious approach next time it comes to weighing up options for a move up to Moto2?
Together with Kiefer Racing, we have already agreed that – should things go well and results are good in Moto3 in 2015 – we will step up to Moto2 together in 2016. They have already enjoyed lots of success there and they won the Moto2 World Championship title with Stefan Bradl in 2011. Having said that, at the moment I just want to concentrate on 2015 and then we will look at the future.
How are you going to spend the rest of the off-season?
For Christmas I will be with my family and friends and then I will start training fully. At the moment I am training in terms of running and things like that, but after Christmas I will really knuckle down and train very hard, both mentally and physically, to be ready for the next bike tests in February.