This is the third year for Xavi Fores inside the highly respected Barni Racing team, but the first in which he is showing such high levels of consistency, even against the top factory bikes.
The top independent rider, by far, and beating masses of official entries from other manufacturers. Even his own - again. He was third in race one, but looked like a potential winner early on.
A home race in Spain was easily the best motivator for Fores at Motorland, for people looking from the outside at least, but Friday was a relative nightmare. Race one was even shaping up that way after choosing a hard rear tyre for a race that was eventually red flagged and then restarted.
“Before the red flag I felt so bad on the bike because I was riding with a hard tyre on the rear and losing a gap a lot,” said a relived Fores from behind the new paddock show podium. “So I decided after the red flag to go all in, like in poker, and put the soft rear tyre on in order to be more competitive. It was hard to understand because I did not test it before in a long run, because the practice weather was a bit difficult. When I was riding and leading the race I had a good pace.
“I had feeling, pushing so hard. On the last four laps I felt a big drop on the rear and when Johnny overtook me it was impossible to follow him, as I had a lot of spin. Especially on the last lap with Chaz I had the same. I lost second place on the very last lap and last corner. But anyway, this podium was something unexpected because yesterday was a little bit far from the first riders so we did a good job in the garage.”
His Friday was hard because he had his bike set up all wrong, in a manhood-worrying way, according to his comic comments.
“We kept the set-up from Thailand and in the first dry conditions here I felt the bike was too short in the front, so when I was braking so hard it was like I was putting the front tyre onto my balls! I was not able to turn. I was struggling a little bit, forcing the front a lot, so we decided to change everything on the bike for this morning. It was a good decision.”
His better choice softer rear tyre eventually went off enough to be caught and passed by Davies, but third was another over-performing group effort from a privateer.
“At the beginning I was able to overtake the Yamaha and Sykes a little bit more easily than before but I was expecting this drop with my rear. So I wanted to push hard at the beginning to fight for a top four,” said Fores. “And in the end I felt good for the last four laps and overall the decision with the soft tyre was 100% correct. With the hard tyre I was not able to open the gas hard. This was very important so I was lucky about the red flag, and the decision to change the tyre was very important.”
Asked why he feels he has been able to make this consistent jump in performance, he said, “This year I have three years with this team and this is most important. The bike is completely the same bike, but with some updates from Ducati. Not a big difference from last year. But with more experience I know the opposing riders a bit more, and it is easier to understand what I need on the bike. To talk with my crew is easier, so this something I work on at home in the winter. In my third year on this bike the results are always needed.”
And his team is an independent one as far as ownership and funds go, but also an integral part of the overall Ducati effort.
“We are independent team but we have a good bike and Barni pays everything,” confirmed Fores. “But we have a good package. I can show them (the other Ducati riders) my data and they can show us their data. It is easier for the riders and for Ducati to develop the bike. Everyone has his own way in set-up, but the base for everybody is the same. We have all the same bike, engine and electronics. In the end I am not Superman, and if I do not have this kind of bike I cannot have these kinds of results.”