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EXCLUSIVE Danny Kent - Q&A

25 November 2013

An exclusive interview with Danny Kent, who is moving back to Moto3 next season after a tough year in Moto2 with Tech 3.

Kent is re-joining the factory Red Bull KTM Ajo team with which he won two races at the end of 2012.

Following the interview it was announced that Kent's ride will be rebranded as a 'Husqvarna'. Husqvarna is owned by KTM and the machinery is expected to remain unchanged. Both the KTM and Husqvarna factory teams will be run by Aki Ajo...

Crash.net:
Hi Danny, where are you at the moment?

Danny Kent:
I'm in Almeria for a two day KTM test with my new team. We came from Jerez where we also did a two day test and on the way to the circuit this morning it was 2 degrees so it's pretty cold.

Danny Kent:
What are your feelings about the 2013 season?

Danny Kent:
Basically it's been a long difficult year. Going into the season we had far higher expectations but it just didn't work out, it's not been a great year.

I don't want to say anything about the team because I know they worked really hard and that they believe strongly in their bike, the Mistral 610, but I think we struggled a little on development.

I think the lack of results might have been coming from my riding as well. Coming from Moto3 to Moto2 is a big step and the way I release the clutch, enter the corner or get on the power will all influence the situation.

When you get on a bike you either have a good feeling or you don't and if you don't you're going to have problems and I think that's what happened with me and the Mistral.

The problem we were always having was with rear grip and that's why sometimes we had a reasonable qualifying because over a single lap the bike was good and we could be on the limit. Going into the race though, that's 20 odd laps, and all the sliding meant that we had less rear grip than everybody else.

I don't want to make excuses because as I said it could have just as well been coming from my riding. I know that I worked hard to try and get a good feeling from the bike but we just didn't connect.

In the end I wasn't enjoying riding the bike and if that happens your confidence just goes. The same problems just kept occurring, nothing was being changed, I was always trying to change, you lose motivation, you don't enjoy it and it ends up being a vicious circle.

Crash.net:
From the outside it looks as if the Mistral is a difficult bike to get right?

Danny Kent:
I think that everybody knows that it's not the best bike in Moto2, you never know though, I could have gone to Moto2 on a Kalex and had difficulties too. It's just that you can't compare yourself to other riders on it. On the Kalex you can say to yourself, 'If they can do it, why can't I?' but on the Mistral there's no track record.

We were actually looking at some of Bradley's data to try and help us. They were working in a different way to us but Bradley had some good results. A lot of people were criticising Bradley at the time but I would say that he was doing a great job and that he definitely deserves the [MotoGP] seat that he's got now.

Crash.net:
But you seemed to be getting some good results in comparison with your team-mate and Sandro Cortese, didn't that count for anything?

Danny Kent:
Yeah that's right, I know that Louis [Rossi] was having more or less the same problems that I did. I was able to be faster than him in some qualifyings and races but I know that he had a very long year as well. Maybe if we look at it this way; Louis has just come back from a test in Jerez where he was riding a Kalex and he went a second faster straight away than he ever did on the Mistral.

It's just so difficult though because I really don't want to say anything bad about the bike or the team because the team was great and maybe the bike has great potential for someone else.

Another problem was that we went into Moto2 in a year when it was so competitive and the lap times were so close and fast and many of the other manufacturers had done a huge amount of development over the previous years. Sandro only finished four points ahead of us despite us missing the last two rounds so maybe it's not as bad as it could be.

Crash.net:
How was your communication with the team?

Danny Kent:
I think we had good communication, I got on well with my crew and I also got on well with Herve [Poncharal], he's a really approachable guy so the communication was good. It was just that on tracks where we weren't so good that we struggled a bit.

Crash.net:
Did you find the fierce competition in Moto2 daunting?

Danny Kent:
I didn't find it daunting but everybody knows that Moto2 is about as close and competitive as it gets particularly as everybody's got the same engine. The only difference is the chassis.

Another thing is that there are some riders there who've got four or five years' experience and some races we were qualifying just a second behind them so perhaps we didn't do such a bad job.

Crash.net:
So in your opinion one of the Mistral's biggest problems is rear grip?

Danny Kent:
That problem could also have come from my Moto3 style though where I had too much lean angle and wasn't getting on the power quickly enough, it could have been coming from me.

Crash.net:
Was that your opinion or the team's?

Danny Kent:
It was the team who were saying that to me. When I was following some other riders for one lap it wasn't so bad but to do more consistent laps over a race I noticed we were sliding quite a bit more to keep up.

In my opinion the team was working in the wrong direction with the chassis. I guess that's their job though because they believe in and have experience of their own bike and are going to go in their own way.

I also think they were going in the wrong direction for next year. I wasn't enjoying it this year and I thought to myself that if we go into next year and I'm not enjoying it again and not getting results then I'm going to really struggle to find a competitive ride the year after. It would have been very bad for my career.

That's why I thought it was maybe best to part ways to try and find a good team in Moto3 that I could fight for the championship with and possibly open a different path into Moto2 using a more well-known chassis.

Crash.net:
When your injury happened, did that seem like a convenient time to call it a day?

Danny Kent:
Yes, you could say that. It would have been great to finish the season because I knew how hard my team were working at the workshop in France. I wanted to finish the year for them, but as I said I wasn't enjoying it and when you can't give that last bit of commitment in Moto2 you'll be nowhere.

It was definitely a low point of the season.

Crash.net:
What exactly was your injury?

Danny Kent:
It was a broken clavicle. Because it was near the end of the year the surgeons' suggested that I miss the remaining races so that the break could heal naturally without any plates. If I'd had a plate we could have ridden in Valencia but the way I looked at it, we'd struggled when I was fully fit so we weren't going to achieve anything injured. I felt it was best to try and get fit for the KTM test.

It's still not 100% healed. I feel it after a few laps. If I put something heavy in my hand and try to lift my arm then I have quite a lot of pain in the shoulder. It should take about 5 weeks but the adrenaline on the bike is sufficient to let me test well.

Crash.net:
Was the decision to part ways yours or the team's?

Danny Kent:
It was pretty mutual between me and Herve. The results weren't there so it was hard for him to find sponsors and I wasn't enjoying the ride so after Aragon we sat down and had a deep discussion. A couple of days later I phoned Herve and we made the decision that we wouldn't be together next year. We thought it would be best for us both.

Herve's really easy to get on with. I feel we had a really frank and honest relationship. The thing is that I also got on so well with the team and that's why I'm so disappointed that it didn't go according to plan. It's all part of racing though.

Crash.net:
How was last year financed?

Danny Kent:
It wasn't a pay ride, I didn't bring any money to the team, I was earning a wage from them. In early January one of my personal sponsors had decided that they also wanted to be a sponsor of the whole team.

Crash.net:
Did you have any other offers in Moto2 for next year?

Danny Kent:
Because I left it so late most of the good rides had already gone. There were some places available but they were all asking for money and I wasn't prepared to pay because I think that's the wrong way to go about it. They weren't the best teams anyway so I thought it would be best to return to Moto3 and I was really happy to get into the KTM team.

We've got good experience from when we worked together before so our aim next year has to be to win the championship and find a different path to Moto2

Crash.net:
So the move to Moto3 is a conscious strategy?

Danny Kent:
Yeah, you could say that, it's part of a plan. If I'd stayed in Moto2 and the results weren't there next year I would have had problems the year after.

There's more of a chance of me making an impression with this team, especially after their winning form with Marquez, Cortese and Salom - all having done well here.

The other thing is it'll be good for my confidence. If I can fight for the championship it'll definitely get me going again. Confidence is such a big part of doing well in racing. This year I lost so much of it when we kept trying things and going around in circles.

Crash.net:
Do you feel that'll put a lot of pressure on you to succeed in Moto3?

Danny Kent:
I guess you could say that I've got more pressure on me coming down from Moto2. I'm not going to look at it that way though, I'm always fighting for the championship no matter what so at world level the pressure is always there.

Crash.net:
Is this the same team as you raced for in 2012?

Danny Kent:
It's exactly the same team as when I first started riding in the world championship.

Testing so far has been good despite the fact that I've had to change my riding style again. We're not looking for lap times at the moment, we're really just getting used to the bike and how to work with the team. The bike has changed quite a lot since riding the KTM last so I'm having to get used to a few things to get a good feeling.

It has to be said that getting used to the Moto2 bike from the Moto3 one was harder than the other way round and I already feel comfortable with the bike after three days.

It feels a bit like coming home because it was with this team that I got my first GP win and pole. Given that I was coming to Moto3 then this is definitely the team I would want to be part of.

I know the crew but I've not actually worked with them on the Moto3, our experience together was on the 125cc two stroke, so we'll have to get used to the different way of working that you need for the Moto3.

Crash.net:
How is the testing speed going?

Danny Kent:
At Jerez, Jack Miller my team-mate was the fastest rider and I was 0.4 slower than him so I don't think that that's too bad for my first test back on a Moto3 bike with a slight injury. Here at Almeria I seem to be going fast but as I said we're not really here for lap times we're here to get used to one another, find the best way to work together and get some confidence on the bike.

Crash.net:
If you could talk to yourself a year ago to give yourself some advice, what would you say?

Danny Kent:
Honestly I would have told myself to have another year in Moto3 and you never know I could have had the title now.


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