WorldSBK Assen: ‘It feels like I’m riding an alligator’ - Redding

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Picture: GeeBee Images

After taking a single point away from the opening WorldSBK round at Motorland Aragon, thanks to a 15th place finish in race one, Scott Redding was so affected by a nightmare first BMW race weekend that he didn’t speak to the media.

He opened up about it on Saturday at Assen, having qualified 15th and raced to a ninth place.

“Yeah, it was soul destroying because to me it’s not even competitive to be riding round in 15th, 16th position all weekend,” told bikesportnews.com at Assen.

“But that’s where we are. I think at the moment we are not improved from last year. The other guys have gone faster. We are a bit faster, but they are making a bigger step. So, to come here, I expected to be close. I expected to feel a little bit better on the bike, which is good because at least I feel better, regardless of the result and everything.

In Aragon, I felt like I couldn’t even ride. I just wanted to go home. Here it’s a lot better. I just wish we could take a bit more to be a bit more competitive. First five guys, you forget and you have to try to see about the sixth position is what we are targeting at the moment.

“The gap is still far. Loris was the first BMW. Qualified seventh. Lost some positions. The gap is too far. I think it was 18 seconds or something, on a track which is suited to the bike.”

Going sixth on the road in race two, as it were, then fifth after Axel Bassani got pinged for exceeding the track limits too often in the race, Redding was one of the regular top six riders to come and speak.

He said whatever changed to make him finishing in the upper-echelons - even with some high profile fallers or retirees - it was not a new technical or setup miracle.

“Not a lot changed for me,” said Redding. “The lap time was the same, within a couple of tenths. I didn’t have a better start. There was chaos in the first corner and I got lucky to come through. Then I kind of was pulling away from the guys behind, holding the gap to the ones in front.

“I thought maybe I can catch a bit. Then there was the crash between Jonathan and Toprak. Then the pace in front, they just rolled the throttle. So I was right on the limit. Tried to get on the back of them. I got on the back and I felt quite comfortable.

“I was able to come through, pass Bassani, Rinaldi, Alex. Feeling quite good, but literally 110 per cent I was wrestling. It feels like I’m riding an alligator or something. Just shaking all the time. I feel I put my money’s worth in it, that’s for sure.

“Then with a few laps to go, I got a small hole in the rear tyre on the right side. So, I had no rear grip. I was tipping in and it was just coming around. I was like… I just want to finish. Then Alex passed me and Bassani passed me. We battled a bit. I tried to be defensive, but there was just no grip going in. There was no grip coming out. That was where I was left with.

“It was nice to finish – for me it was sixth position. Axel got a penalty for whatever, but to me that was sixth position. I’m happy for the position, but we’re still quite far. It was nice to battle and get in the mix a bit and to see the group for the podium. That was nice. Nothing changed. Just got a bit more lucky on the start. That’s what I need to improve.”

In one other area, there have to be improvements to make better race results. “The qualifying as well,” said Scott. “I was so pissed after Saturday because it makes or breaks the weekend. I seem to be on the struggle at the moment in the qualifying and I need to make that step. Once I can go with them in the first few laps, the middle of the race I have the pace to be with them.

“We see in all the races, the middle of the race I’m fast. Then the tyre is dropping, but the position I’m in, I’m not thinking about saving the tyre because I’m only trying to get to the front as long as possible. Then it will be what it will be. I’m not in a position where I’m fighting for a podium and I need to conserve tyre.

“I’m 110 per cent every lap to be where I am. So, that’s where we are after here and we will see in Estoril if it’s the same. We made some changes, but it’s again the lap time was faster than my qualifying lap. 1’35.0 was like my home. That’s all I can seem to do here. If I could do 34.6, okay. But I can’t.”

What needs to happen to reduce the gap of 17 seconds here and in Aragon it was 21 or something?

Yeah, we are too far. The gap now is the closest we’ve been, but I think I gained two seconds from the crash, more or less. Yeah. It’s hard because it’s just a little bit everywhere. I am giving everything. This is what is hard for me because I can’t say it’s this or it’s that, because I am like this everywhere.

“Sometimes it’s good and sometimes we lose too much. It’s not always. With braking, sometimes I go wide. So, I’m in a small working range. So, I don’t know. It’s the first time for me that I was racing with proper people, in my opinion, like with the top five. It’s different when you ride with people in the top five to riding with people from ten to fifteen. It’s different. It’s not like I’m saying they are not good riders, but the riding is different.

“For me, it was easier to ride with those than it was to ride with the guys in fifteenth position. But it’s getting there. Qualifying is a big factor. The start is a big factor. The first lap is a big factor. Then at the end, it’s tyre. But we struggle with the start. All the BMWs, we go backwards off the start. So, we need to improve this.

“I need to improve the qualifying, because Baz was in an okay position on the grid. It’s not the best, but it’s better. Then we can see. I know I have the pace for top five, top six in this circuit. When we go to Estoril, who knows? I have to play it race by race and see.”