How would you rate the opening half of the season?
“I would rate the season 7.5 so far. We’ve been fast but not consistent. We’re in 11th position in the championship and I think we deserve a bit better, but I made some mistakes that I shouldn't have. We might not have what I think we deserve, but the battle from me to sixth is very close, and we’ve got the second half of the season to score as many points as possible and move up the order.”
Behind the championship leader, how tight is the battle for points and positions?
“There is a really big group of riders that can fight for the top positions and it’s great to be in that fight. You can see the championship positions change after each race, and that’s an exciting battle to be part of. I’ve been fighting in races with riders that have won races and been on the podium. With the fight so close, it’s small details, circuit characteristics and luck that make the difference. This motivates us to work even harder for success.”
What’s been the best race so far for you?
“Assen was the best overall race of the year so far for me, but in Argentina I was in the fight for the podium too.”
How are you and the team adapting to the Yamaha YZR-M1?
“The adaptation is going well, and we just need to understand a few more things to be confident in all conditions. I’m working very well with the team, and I find myself very at ease with them. That’s the most important thing, because it allows me to work in a calmer and more precise way.”
In which aspects of the bike or your riding style would like to do a step forward in the following races?
“I would like to improve the grip under acceleration during the second part of the year. For sure it’s our weak point and where we need to work. The team and Yamaha are doing a great job and I’m sure we are going to make improvements race by race. We are really delighted with the support that we are receiving from Yamaha.”
Are you looking forward to the second part of the season?
“The numbers say that I’m better in the second half of the season. In 2016, I was first or second overall in the second part of the year, in 2017 I won the championship, and there are many circuits that I love like my home race in Misano and the Malaysian GP, that will be really special for all the team. I don’t see why targeting the podium isn’t possible, but for now the plan for the summer break is to target the areas where we’re lacking and to also recharge ready for the second half of the year, and that’s best done on the beach!”