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GP Week : Issue 159
Germany ’s latest hope for a first premier-class title is Stefan Bradl, and the 22-year-old son of successful 250 racer Helmut is the best for many years. Fresh from the Moto2 crown, he has shown well from the start on the 1000cc prototype LCR Honda, never once out of the top 10, and fifth in the rain at Le Mans. GPWEEK: Good start to the year. Did you expect it to be so easy? STEFAN BRADL: It’s difficult to have the right expectations, but my plan was to make one step and then the other step – no panic, no rush. So it’s going well, we are on our plan. I did not expect to be fifth for example in Le Mans, and to have always good consistency. Are you better on big bikes than small? I think especially in the last two years I made a big step in riding style ... I was able to pick up the bike a little bit better out of the corner and use the power. Also in Moto2 it was important to be exact and precise, because you have the same engine and everything and then you need to be really focused on riding style. Those years I learned a lot. What do you need to forget from Moto2, and what do you need to bring with you? The change is quite big. I expected it, but not that big ... specially you need to be even more precise. It’s unbelievable how in the race they are so consistent, lap-time wise. Still at the moment with used tyres we are not as strong as the top guys. We are dropping too much, and also in the qualifying I am not able to use the soft tyre. They can use it more to get the last two- three-tenths. What’s it like to find yourself up among the big boys in a race? A good feeling. For me it is still something special. Now it is becoming more normal to race among Valentino and Stoner and these guys, but they are still a little bit better. Did you learn anything following Dani? Even in the wet, they are using every centimetre of the track, so precise. They are doing almost no mistakes ... that is the most important thing, to be consistent and precise in the race, and that is the biggest difference from Moto2. Is your bike the same as Stoner’s? Almost the same bike. I think they have an update on electronics, but we also got some new parts in Aragon and Barcelona tests. For example we got a new swing-arm, but we are not using it at the moment. We tried it and it was not a big improvement, so we said: we keep the old one. With the rider market so fluid, how does that affect you? I think I will follow my contract with this team; I think for me now that is the best. If HRC comes knocking? Would you feel ready? HRC yes, they have the possibility to do that. (within his contract terms) We’ll see. There are still many races to go this year. If we can do a big improvement, fighting for top five every race, maybe yes. But it is too early now to think about it. My opinion is Repsol Honda need at least one person that can fight for the title with Lorenzo and Yamaha, and at the moment I don’t think I will be the right person for 2013. Most likely Marquez, your old Moto2 rival, will be in Repsol Honda. Are you glad you have a year’s advantage over him in MotoGP? I don’t know how fast he will adapt to the MotoGP bike. He is a very talented rider and if he has good guys around him then he can make the step also in a similar way than me, maybe better or maybe worse. He’s getting a reputation for dangerous riding. You’ve raced a lot with him. Is he dangerous? The Catalunya incident – I was surprised that Marquez got penalised. Espargaro in my eyes was too aggressive. Okay, what Marquez did in Qatar with Luthi was not correct, so one penalty would maybe be helpful to get his mind a little bit sorted. But if he will make the jump to MotoGP I think it will automatically come that he will use his head more. How many times did he carve you up last year? We had some close fights last season, but I think I was using my head a little bit more, and at the end I was the champion. But he is really fast. He is aggressive but also young. Sure he will learn and progress, and he will make another step in his riding style and mental things. After your first MotoGP tests, you said the biggest change was the electronics. Are you up to speed with them now? I know them, but I need to use them a little bit more. Especially at the end of the race, to get the best potential out of the electronics. At this stage we are not getting the best out of them, because I have to adapt my style and so we don’t spend so much time with electronics. Always we are on the base, but we can improve for sure. Do you model yourself on any rider? I have my own style, and this is what I focus on every session: to make as few mistakes as possible, and to make one step after the other. How do you prepare for a race? Do you have you lucky socks? Are you superstitious? No, except to have my simple way before the race. It’s always the same procedure: I like to be in my seat, and everything must be in the same place. For me this is important. If not I can get ner vous. I like to control everything. (laughs) This is like a German, huh? So far this season I always go to the bike on the right side ... but this is because of the mechanics standing on the left. I’m not really superstitious. 5 MINUTES WITH STEFAN BRADL Germany has never won a world title in the top bike category. MICHAEL SCOTT speaks to the man who might change that 5 MINUTES 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: