Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 28 May 2015
Scott Redding has said he is struggling to gel with his Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Honda after a difficult first five rounds in the 2015 MotoGP season.
The British rider stepped up to factory machinery this year hoping to be able to fight towards the front, but things haven’t come together for the 22-year-old just yet as he searches for front-end feeling on his Honda RC213V.
Redding has taken just one top ten finish so far this season, ninth place in Argentina, and sits just 13th in the championship standings.
Last time out in Le Mans, Redding’s front-end woes ended his race early as he low-sided out of the French Grand Prix.
“Le Mans was a bit of a disaster”, said Redding speaking in Mugello. “I struggled with front grip, struggled with turning, a lot of things really. In morning warm up it wasn’t so bad, we changed a few things on the bike to try and give me a bit more feel and not to be so snappy and that sort of helped us a little bit, but in the race I just had zero grip and lost the front again.”
This weekend MotoGP moves to Mugello, which is renowned for it’s grippy surface, Redding feels this will help him but acknowledges it’s not really known as a ‘Honda track’.
“Mugello isn’t typically a Honda circuit”, he explains. “We will have to see how it pans out, but if we can just stay with the other Honda’s that is still my target. I feel as though I’m not fully bonded with the bike at the moment, I always feel that I’m fighting against it. If we can get that ‘gelled’ feeling I think we can make some steps forward, I have a few things I think I can change and the team think they have a few things they can change.”
But what exactly is the problem?
“I don’t actually know”, he replies. “It’s just not quite gelling. Sometimes I feel like I’m coming into the corner way too slow and other times I feel I’m going in a bit too fast. I don’t have that real confidence so I can say ‘I want to stop there’, the Honda does what it wants to do, not what I want to do.
“It seems to be when we have track grip it’s not so bad but when the track grip is less I struggle more. That’s kind of the problem, the feeling is there but it’s not doing what I want so we’ll change a few things but then it doesn’t do what I expect it to. I think a couple of things we have to try this weekend could make things a little bit better and then I hope it will come together. At the moment I’m just not confident entering the corner, so I don’t have the speed to come out of the corner as I’m not on the right line.
“On the exit [the bike] is aggressive. When you’re behind a Yamaha, Ducati or Suzuki and they first touch the throttle they have the edge grip and can pull some metres on you whereas we have to wait, take more risk going, wait late and then get on the throttle and we always have wheelie. A good example is the Iannone/Marquez battle in Le Mans, Marc would close going into the corner but in mid-corner and on exit Iannone was gone and the front wheel was down. Marc was wheelying all the time. It’s just a bit of an animal to ride and tame on a small circuit like that.
“There’s no reason why I can’t be faster. It’s just the gelling, it’s not quite there. When I come in to the corner I’m thinking ‘am I gonna stop?’ and then when I get there I’m just trying not to lose the front. It’s too difficult, I’m not thinking a corner ahead, I’m always at the corner I’m at so I’m not relaxed, I’m not really comfortable and this is why I get stuck in a lap time as I feel I’m reaching the limit of the setting we have at the moment. The difficult thing for me is I get to a lap time on Friday and can’t go faster, so we need to break that rhythm and understand the bike.”
Despite moving back to his old Marc VDS team for 2015 as they stepped up to MotoGP, a lot of Redding’s GP crew are new to the rider. His Crew Chief, Chris Pike isn’t just new to Scott but also MotoGP, having come from being Jonathan Rea’s right-hand man in World Superbikes.
“I’m getting on with Chris really well,” Redding continued. “It’s quite difficult because he doesn’t have the experience of some of the other guys from MotoGP, especially with the MotoGP bike, but he’s understanding quite a lot quite fast but it’s a lot to take in as it’s always changing. We’ll have a problem in one circuit and kind of get to it and the next circuit is again changing so we’re always on the back foot coming to each race. Slowly we’re ticking the boxes but it takes time and we don’t have a lot of track time to change big things in a weekend.”
While Redding isn’t quite sure what the problem is, what he is certain about is that track time will fix it, but with time on circuit limited over a MotoGP weekend. It’s going to take time to overcome their issues.
“Every time we go out on the bike is useful, I think we can make some steps here and in Barcelona and then try some bigger things again [in the test]. Electronically with the bike we’ve found some things we think could be better for this weekend so hopefully we can try that and hopefully that will give me confidence in the front a bit more but until then we still need to search for that good feeling I’m missing.
“The problem is that we change stuff and I never get a different feeling as I’m always in that same routine. For me it’s not the setting, it could be engine character or tyre related – something that hasn’t been changing too much – as we can change the bike like this, or like this and for me the feeling is very similar."
Practice for the Italian Grand Prix gets underway tomorrow (Fri 29 May) with all races taking place on Sunday. Can Redding change his fortunes this weekend?