Scott Redding says he will head into his first 2014 MotoGP World Championship season with the revised objective of beating Nicky Hayden to the title of leading 'Open' class Honda rider following his eye-catching debut in Qatar.
The British rider, who steps up from Moto2 this season aboard the Go&Fun Gresini Honda RCV1000R, admits he had come into the weekend with a view to beating Hiroshi Aoyama and attempting to stay on the tail of Hayden for at least ten laps.
Instead, Redding would shadow Hayden for much of the race before passing him late on to finish in seventh position overall, a performance that exceeded – and amended - his expectations having originally planned to spend much of the year looking to close the gap to the former world champion.
“I'd have been satisfied with beating Aoyama and staying on the back of Nicky for 5 to 10 laps,” he told Crash.net
at a Bennetts sponsored event to promote grassroots motorcycle racing. "I would have been happy with that and think the team would have been happy with that.
“Our target before the weekend was to get points and to close the gap to Nicky. If I'd finished ten seconds behind Nicky, then next weekend it will be eight, five, four… but that went all out the window when I closed the one second gap and then I beat him. Now the target has changed and the aim is to stay in front of him.”
Indeed, Redding is keeping his targets for 2014 limited to how he measures against his fellow Honda production racers, reiterating that there is a deficit of power and confirming to Crash.net
that the machine limited to a 22.2 litre fuel tank, forcing him to save fuel during the race in Doha.
Despite this, he is confident Honda will quickly develop the bike, beginning with a larger fuel tank.
“We need power,” he conceded. “You can see it, everyone can see it. It's not just us saying it. We lose .5/6s on the straight in Qatar. I can't doubt the bike for the handling side, but we just lose on the power. Espargaro has Crutchlow's bike from last year with a softer tyre and more fuel, so you can expect him to be at the front.
“If you give me Bautista's bike from last year with a softer tyre and more fuel, I would beat Bautista. But we need to sit tight and I'll say it's the race of the Hondas. Honda know what they're doing, so as long as I stay in front of Nicky, that's all I'm worried about.
“The tank holds 22.2 litres of fuel. I don't understand why when we can run 24. For something that doesn't cost a lot of money to make a bigger fuel tank and give us the advantage of more fuel, I don't know what happened there.
“They are changing it though, but it is what it is. We had to save fuel in the race, it was a new experience for me. If they bring a bigger tank and that's another step closer to the front pack.”
Redding is an ambassador for Bennetts and was speaking at Silverstone, where youngsters Josh Ownes (12) and Rory Skinner (14) were announced as proteges it will support with funding and advice.