For Bennetts-sponsored Moto2 superstar Scott Redding, a recent return trip from Italy was quite an adventure - from catching a lift in his team boss’s private jet to losing his passport and annoying French travellers along the way.
But Mr Redding wasn’t that bothered. Why? Because he’d spent the previous two days at Mugello riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP12. We caught up with Scott following his first ever ride on a MotoGP bike…
1. We have to start with your Ducati MotoGP test session this week, how did the opportunity come about, when did you know that Filippo Preziosi & Vitto Guareschi were interested in seeing you on the GP12?
Straight after Mugello race, Michael (Bartholemy - Scott’s team boss and personal manager) said “I’ve got a present for you” and when he told me I just smiled and thought “well that sounds tidy, I’ll have a go at that then. There’s the next challenge”.
When I’m away racing I just want to focus on this year and so I don’t worry about what might happen next year, I’m aware of the gossip that goes on but don’t pay much attention to it until something actually happens so once this opportunity came about it’s certainly been interesting to know that Ducati are interested in me which is important for my career.
2. Every young racer and enthusiasts’ dream is to ride a MotoGP bike, and at just 19 years old you’ve already achieved this but explain what was going through your mind when the mechanics fired up the bike and you rode down the pit lane for the first time?
I had no idea what was going to happen but I was going down the pit lane with the limiter on thinking “I’m on a MotoGP bike and I’ve no idea what to expect”. It was a real eye-opener, I opened it up full bore and thought “well, it’s not that quick” but realised about the anti-wheelie and traction control systems. The first time I came down the home straight and went from 5th to 6th gear and had the throttle completely wide open, that’s when you realise how fast it really is. It’s like sitting on a live rocket ship!
When I got to the track we did the introductions and they showed me four bikes and they said ‘choose your bike’. There were two test bikes then two other bikes that they’d made modifications to but they wouldn’t tell me about those! I chose a bike then they set up every bike for me and I ended up trying two different bikes over the two days.
Mugello’s a hard circuit to get a GP a bike around, there’s a lot of change of direction which is hard to get used to when especially on a bike that’s heavier than my Moto2 bike but it was pretty immense; the fast straight with the brow then you’re in the braking zone for the first corner by the time you’re in 6th gear. The bike would always want to wheelie but to try and go straight over it would cost 0.3/0.4s.
It was really interesting to compare the data with Rossi’s. Coming out of Aarrabbiata (turn 8), mid-corner speed, to the end of the lap we were virtually the same but it was the first half of the lap where he made his time.
3. The power delivery on the GP12 has been a troublesome for Valentino and Nicky this season, could you understand what the issues are with this or was everything so new that it was all alien?
I think a lot of the issues are down to the weight in the engine. They’re 25kg over and most of that’s coming from the engine weight which makes the transfer of the weight into and out of the corners harder. But I thought the traction wasn’t that bad.
4. Traction control and anti-wheelie are obviously big differences between the Moto2 and GP bikes but were there any others that you perhaps weren’t expecting?
I was expecting most things to fair but what I wasn’t expecting is the amount of things that can be changed, even corner by corner like engine braking, amount of traction control. It can all be changed minute by minute.
There are three engine mapping settings on the bike which can be altered whilst on the bike but I was simply concentrating trying to understand the bike instead of the electronics.
5. What happens next? Will there be another test? Have you had much feedback from Ducati in terms of next steps or, if the rumours are to be believed, is it in the hands of the MarcVDS team?
Good question. They said they could be another test although I don’t get involved too much in the contracts side of things - I just want to concentrate on my racing although if I see Valentino or Nicky in the paddock I must just drop the elbow on them and then say “Ciao”!
I think Marc (van der Straten) and Michael are looking at leasing a bike for GP next season which would be good for me because I can keep the whole team together.
I would love to go to MotoGP because the power for my weight is much better suited but if you can’t get on a competitive bike then there’s not much point. I want to be competitive and not sit around at the back.
CRT will not be happening for me. There’s no championship for it, it’s just a backup thing which will drop out in a few years in my personal opinion.
6. If Valentino does leave Ducati do you believe you have a chance for the factory ride considering the rookie rule will be scrapped for 2013?
I don’t think a factory ride is on the table because they’re still looking to develop the bike more and they wouldn’t look at a Moto2 rider for that.
7. Despite being physically bigger than your Moto2 compatriots, MotoGP will be much more demanding, how will your training regime alter?
Once I’ve ridden a GP bike a few more times then I’ll be able to get more used to it although to be fair I think it’ll come down to relaxing on the bike. Other than my forearms and inner thighs the rest wasn’t that bad after the two days at Mugello.
The physicality of changing direction on the GP bike is the biggest difference between that and a Moto2 bike but I’ve already got the size to handle that on the bigger machine.
8. And moving onto how your 2012 campaign is going, how would you describe your season so far in just 3 words?
Not. That. Bad.
9. Why? We’ve seen you on the podium three times this season including that incredible last lap performance at Silverstone but where do you see your best chance of standing on the top step during the remainder of the season?
We’ve been there or thereabouts even at tracks where we don’t normally go well at with top 6 finishes plus three podiums at the better tracks. I’ve enjoyed this season, the bike has come together, the team has come together and we’re all enjoying it together. We’ve just got to find that race win and I hope that it’ll come soon because there’s a few of my favourite tracks coming up; Indy, Missano, Malaysia, Philip Island, Japan. They’re circuits that have a lot of fast corners which suits my style rather the start/stop style of Brno for example.
10. Ask the average man on the street to name a British MotoGP rider and he’d struggle so in your opinion how can the popularity of MotoGP be increased in Britain?
I’m quite happy not being recognised on the street but motorcycle sports as a whole isn’t as well recognised in the UK as F1, football, snooker and darts. I’m a little worried about the popularity of the sport to be honest. It’s got to be pushed more in Britain, getting it recognised more and keeping the ticket prices down. You go to Spain and they’ve got 125cc riders on posters around the city centres but you don’t see any posters of Cal Crutchlow in the UK.
11. You’ll be attending the Bennetts Ultimate Track Day again this year, this time at Oulton Park on 11th September to offer on-and-off track advice to competition winners but what is it like mixing with the fans on such a personal level considering they would not normally get this kind of access during a race weekend?
It’s nice to be around the fans especially to talk about riding. I love to help other road riders and young riders especially; you can see they get a buzz out of it!
12. How did you get into motorcycle racing, where were you influenced and who is responsible for giving you your first big break?
My Dad and my Uncle use to race motocross but I didn’t like that so they got me mini-bike when I was 5 ½ and at first I wanted to ride but only for fun, but they pushed me and looking back now I’m glad they did what they did.
When you’re young you don’t tend to think about a future in the sport but when I came 2nd in the Spanish Championship and went to the World Championship that’s really when I began to believe.
13. What do you do to relax away from the racing?
Usually messing around with scooters or motocross. For me relaxing is training and hanging out with my friends.
I do a lot of cycling, mountain biking, hiking, running and core work as well as preparing myself for the next race.
14. You’ve been racing since you were 5 ½ years old but do you ever think about what will happen further down the line when you retire from racing, would you remain in the sport?
I’ve not really thought about it but I don’t know anything other than racing. As far back as I can remember I was on bikes. I couldn’t go and get an office job, no way!
15. You launched the Scott Redding Academy earlier this year but what advice would you give to young boys and girls dreaming of racing motorcycles for a living?
I want to be able to help the young riders. There needs to be more good young British riders like Kyle Ryde. Getting them out on the track and teaching them lines, throttle control, brake control and passing on my experience. Even though I’m only 19 I’ve been racing since I was 5 so I feel as though I can pass some helpful stuff on. Really you have to be starting at such a young age to be able to get to a level where you’re competing for World Championships. The young guys have got to keep their feet on the ground and keep working hard, not get too cocky, it’s not simply about talent to make a career in this sport anymore.
There’s not much competition in England. You need competition to push you ahead, to compete with the best of the best and to keep learning and experiencing which is why Bradley, Danny Webb and I all were travelling around Europe at 9 or 10 years old. You can’t cut corners when you’re young because it’ll catch up with you.
16. Being such a close-knit community you must be friendly with other racers but whose results do you look for first?
During a race weekend I’m only really interested in myself but I do look out for the other British guys to check out if they got on alright so if we meet up in the evening you’re better off knowing where they came in qualifying or the race! Sometimes I’ll go on the pit wall to egg them along a bit, especially if they’re close to the front then they might see me and open the gas a bit more! I’ve even done the pit board for Jesper Iwelma before.
17. Do you have any sporting hero’s?
My dad’s always told me that if anyone asks then it’s Eddie the Eagle but I don’t know much about him except that he was a trier.
Bear Grylls reminds me a lot of myself. I’m reading his book at the moment and it’s just amazing, he’s the sort of guy who’ll go to the end whether he’s got the strength or not, until he can’t give any more. Then he might be out-of-order for a week just because he tried that hard. He’s a bit of an idol…on the mental side!
18. In your opinion who is the most talented current British rider, other than yourself?!
I’ve got to give it to Cal, Bradley and Danny Webb who are all doing a great job but it’s a shame for Danny Kent with his bike at the moment.
19. Your Bennetts Biking Dream is to become MotoGP World Champion but do you have any other 2-wheeled ambitions?
I’d like to complete the Iron Man Extreme Enduro Challenge. That would be a challenge and half!