An exclusive interview with LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl, who claimed his first MotoGP pole and podium during the 2013 season.

The former Moto2 champion finished the year seventh overall, having been forced to miss the Malaysian and Australian rounds due to a fractured ankle...
Are you now the most successful German rider ever in the premier-class?

Stefan Bradl:
That's a difficult one, it's hard to say because I'm not absolutely sure what happened in the '60s and '70s but I'm sure that I'm at least one of the most successful riders. That's made easier though because in Germany we don't have that many riders who have taken part in the premier class.

My father Helmut was a runner up in the 250s in '91 and he was a great inspiration to me and it was he who started my interest in motorcycles when I was very young, if he hadn't been a successful motorcyclist too then I wouldn't be here now.
Was there ever a 'plan B'?

Stefan Bradl:
You always have to consider what might happen if you're unable to continue in your chosen sport. We had a little plan for me to work in a local factory in Augsburg that made sunglasses, ski helmets and things like that before I became successful, but the dream was always there to become a motorcycle rider.
Do you hang around with people like Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel when you're in Germany?

Stefan Bradl:
Unfortunately not that much. We're all so incredibly busy so we don't meet up that often. I remember that Michael Schumacher came to see our grand prix in France and we had a great conversation and hopefully I can catch up with Sebastian soon. I've met him and we know each other well, but when I saw him last it was four years ago so it's probably time to catch up with each other again.

I think Sebastian follows MotoGP so he keeps up to date with what's going on it's just that motorcycles and cars are so different, like day and night so the two worlds don't often come together.
Didn't Michael Schumacher try racing bikes and didn't do as well as you?

Stefan Bradl:
I think that if I were slower than him on a bike I'd have to reconsider my career! Also if I could beat him in a car then he would also have had to find a different job. It's cars where he's a genius.
Did you find that racing in Moto2 was more fun than in MotoGP because of the better competition?

Stefan Bradl:
No, not really, for me it is really the same. The enjoyment in MotoGP is because you're riding the best bikes on the planet. The technology and electronics make a MotoGP bike a great challenge and it's fascinating to try to make them go fast.

Also being in the premier class is everybody's dream and when you get there you know you've arrived. It's great riding the fastest bike available against the best racers in the world. No matter what you do in Moto2, it's just a stepping stone and being in MotoGP is everybody's target.

It's not so easy to fight for the win in MotoGP but the achievement is greater. I'm certainly enjoying being in MotoGP more than in Moto2 and as I said before the enjoyment doesn't just come from close competition, it's also the technical level of the bike. You've got more things to adjust and you've got so many people working for you.

It's great being one of the chosen few who ride in MotoGP and I don't think that you'd find any MotoGP riders who say they want to go back to Moto2.

I think the tyres are hugely important in MotoGP as well and have a large effect on the bike's performance and I think that a difference in the tyre can have one of the biggest influences on the performance of the bike. But for me I just take the tyre I've got and work with it.

For sure it might be more exciting if we had more than one tyre manufacturer involved so that we had competition between them. I think that would be a nice experience.
Do you think that carbon brakes are bad for competition?

Stefan Bradl:
For the speeds we go at I think that carbon brakes are necessary. As the bikes have become faster we've also had to consider the brakes needed to stop that speed, we can't just think about acceleration without thinking about deceleration.

The carbon brakes weren't difficult to get used to when you start in MotoGP, they feel a bit different but you get used to them very quickly. Once you get used to them they feel the same as steel discs.
How is your injury progressing?

Stefan Bradl:
It's a simple fracture of my right ankle but I needed to have an operation to set it. I had that operation about three and a half weeks ago in Malaysia, five hours after the accident and it went perfectly. They put a couple of screws in to stabilise the fracture and it's going exactly as expected. I'm walking on it normally now and I'm almost free of pain.

At the moment I'm not quite riding at 100%, but I'd say I'm up to 85%. I've still got a bit of a problem with the feel of the rear brake but I've got to be happy with how things have turned out.
How would you compare your bike with the one that Marc Marquez is riding?

Stefan Bradl:
I can't know exactly because I don't know which updates Repsol Honda are using.

I'm sure there will be a difference now because Marc [was] fighting for the championship and so Honda are putting their maximum into his bike. I understand that because Honda has to do what is best for the company, but I don't think that the difference in bikes is big.

At the start of the season I think we probably had identical bikes, same suspension and everything.

We also have some influence on how the bike is developed. Sometimes Honda comes over with some test items for us to try and are always looking for feedback.
Who would you feel disappointed if you didn't beat a certain rider in a race?

Stefan Bradl:
I don't really see it that way. The most important thing is to feel happy with the job you did at the end of the race.

When it comes to other riders it's simply a matter of who is in front of you, if they're in front, you want them behind. I can't really give names, I don't see it like that.
Is being a single rider in a team a disadvantage?

Stefan Bradl:
In some ways it's a good thing but in others it's a disadvantage. In a way it doesn't matter if you have a team-mate because you'll still run the race in the same way and above all beat your team-mate.

The disadvantage though is that you can't share the data, if you have a team-mate and are having a problem in a particular place then you can often get some help from their data and you can see how they're doing things differently. At the moment there's no data being shared between Honda teams.

If you're a single rider you can be free, do whatever you want and you've got the garage to yourself. Being a single rider is more relaxed.

The LCR team is also one I enjoy being in. They're really, really professional but it's got a family atmosphere, it's quite informal and there's a great feeling in the team.
What was it about Laguna Seca [pole and podium] that made you feel so confident?

Stefan Bradl:
From the first day we just had an incredible feeling and everything was going in the right direction. If one thing goes right then often all the other ones follow, everything just went well from the first lap. For some reason the track also suits how I ride, I would love to repeat that every weekend! Unfortunately I don't think that track is in the calendar for 2014 so I'm a little disappointed, but we can't just concentrate on one track, we've got to get it right at all tracks.
And next year?

Stefan Bradl:
I'm at LCR again, same bike, same crew, same team so I'm feeling quite relaxed about the future. It should be a nice relaxing off season and I'm really looking forward to that. After 18 races you really look forward to having some time off.
Lastly, just out of interest, why do riders sometimes steer the front wheel in the air when they are wheelieing when accelerating out of a corner?

Stefan Bradl:
Your front is off the ground but you are still able to steer the bike with the rear. If you move your body to a certain point the front wheel in the air will still give the bike some direction input. You're turning over the rear tyre.
Thanks Stefan and good luck.

Stefan Bradl:


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