How did today go for you?
It was pretty good to be honest. We got through a lot of stuff in the sessions. Obviously it’s a new track for me so I did as much as possible to get to know the track, it’s so long that it takes some time to learn, but I’m getting there. We’re getting the bike closer to where I want it to be. We had a couple of issues in the second session, the bike cut out mid-corner and I almost fell off, and then we had a little electrical problem so we lost some data. The main thing is that we’re closing the gap to the leaders and when you look at the pace today it’s much faster than last year so I’m happy with our progress. It’s nice to see that progress from the first session to the second even though we’re battling those electrical problems. I feel good on the bike and I’m working well with the team. We’ve got one round of experience so it’s important to gel together and hopefully we’ll keep going the right way with the bike setup.
First time here, what are you first impressions?
It’s amazing! It’s an amazing circuit, it’s long and technical and has so many different corners. In the fast change of direction you need the bike to be agile and then you’ve got the hard braking areas into the slower corners. It’s about finding a compromise with the setup to enable you not to lose too much time in the other areas.
Qatar was tough for you with the oil leak on Sunday but how do you feel about the opening race and today?
It was tough, it was no-one’s fault in the team and just bad luck. Qatar was difficult for us, for the whole weekend, we had problems with bike setup and a lack of experience within the team but we’ve learned from that and our season is starting now. You learn from everything and hopefully we can keep improving.
How important is having a clean weekend and getting as much tracktime as possible?
That’s the most important thing for this weekend and getting in some consistent laps. If we can get as much data as possible but unfortunately the electrical issue in FP2 meant that we lost a bit of data from the fastest lap but hopefully we can have a smooth weekend.
Are these opening three races just about getting experience and then when we get back to Europe is that when you expect to get stronger results?
That’s right and especially here. Everyone else has been here and we’re trying to learn the track. I guess that you could say that this is our testing time because we missed some time after my foot injury and we lost some time but even when we got out there we were still limited by foot. So this is our testing and sometimes it will be trial and error but we have to be careful not to go backwards. We’ll get these flyaway races done and then when we get back to Europe we can start picking up points.
Are you fully out of the walking boot now?
I was actually in the boot until three or four days for the flight over and trying to keep some weight off the foot when I was walking around. I think that the problem isn’t really the bone now it’s the tendon and the tissue so that’s causing a bit of pain on the lefts and on the shifts but it’s not really an issue, I’ve ridden through worse pain earlier in the year.
Did it affect your training?
That’s actually a bit of the reason that it took a bit longer to heal because I didn’t want to let my fitness drop so I probably pushed a bit too hard but I like to keep my fitness up beacuse it’s important for me being so active on the bike. That probably didn’t help it but after Qatar I did a hard couple of weeks of training.