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Q&A: Pete Benson (Hayden`s chief mechanic).

It was complicated. I think Nicky didn't adapt particularly well to the 800cc's. The 990cc's were much better suited to his style and it took him some time to get used to the demands of the new engine capacity. He didn't really need any special motivation. He didn't need anyone to tell him to do this or that, he found his own motivation. He didn't need anyone to do that for him. But of course it was difficult trying to recover after the first four or five races. Or, for example, in Phillip Island, where he was riding very fast and the engine broke down. It's the worst thing that could have happened, because he was in a position to climb back on the podium.

Q:
The pre-season and the start of the new season in Qatar were not easy, but since Jerez the results have started to arrive. What do you think of the 2008 Repsol Honda RC212V?

Pete Benson:
The bike we have now seems to be performing well. We had a lot of problems during the pre-season and did not do a particularly good job during this year's training sessions. I think we missed out on aspects which were very important, and did not get off to a very good start. But now the bike seems to be performing well, and I reckon that if Honda manages to improve the engine a bit more, we'll have a very good bike.

Q:
What would you say is the worst nightmare for a MotoGP team during a grand prix?

Pete Benson:
Not being on the podium every week!

Q:
How has the job of a mechanic changed with all the technological development?

Pete Benson:
The electronic side is what has changed the most, though the job of a mechanic isn't too different to what it has always been. The thing is that electronics now play an important role in the adjustments to the bike, and ten years ago it didn't exist. The mechanical part hasn't changed that much, just the telemetrics, responsible for fuel injection, which have become a very important part of all this.

Q:
You have worked with champions such as Doohan, Rossi, and Hayden. What separates world champions from the rest?

Pete Benson:
The riders who have won a world title on a number of occasions, like Doohan or Rossi, have incredibly strong willpower. I think this is the most important quality. They are very strong, mentally speaking. There is always a degree of luck involved in every championship, but you basically win a championship by being constant and fast every week, finishing on the podium in almost every race. What's more, Valentino and Mick wouldn't worry about what anyone said about them, or about what was happening around them. I think the key quality is mental strength, much more important than physical condition or the bike. Willpower is the main difference and is what sets a rider apart.

Q:
Several new young and talented riders have arrived in MotoGP this year. Is it now easier to adapt to the premier class? Do you think the level of competition in MotoGP has risen this year?

Pete Benson:
It's too soon to say if the level has risen in the category. It's probably easier now for the 250cc riders to adapt due to the greater control they currently have over the power of their bikes, but Dovizioso or Lorenzo are very talented riders. Though I think we should wait two or three races more to see if the level of the category has really changed that much, though in my opinion, as the season progresses we'll probably have the same riders as last year, and maybe a couple more who might have options. It may be tighter, but I don't think the level has risen that much.

Q:
How has the world championship changed since you arrived?

Pete Benson:
There are too many races. When I got here, I think we did 13 races a year, and now we do something like 18, with a lot more training sessions. It has become a 24/7 job, while before it used to be quite more relaxed, with a long break at Christmas. You just have to take a look at the hospitalities and everything surrounding them to see the amount of money that's spent now. I don't know if it's better or not, but these are the main changes.

Q:
500cc, 990cc, or 800cc?

Pete Benson:
It's been a long time since the 500cc bikes. I don't really care as long as the races are good and the technology improves. I mean, the 500cc's were these wild machines which many people were unable to ride. Now the bikes are probably easier to ride and you can see more people riding fast. But they are still grand prix bikes, at the highest level, and riding fast is what it's all about.

Q:
Do you think the electronics or the tyres have a greater influence than the quality of the riders?

Pete Benson:
No, because a rider's talent is still very important. I mean, everything is important as a whole. You can have the best bike, but if the rider is no good, he won't win anything. And on the other hand, you can have the best rider using the worst bike, and he won't win anything either. Everything has to be in place. Last year they said that some riders won because of the Bridgestone tyres, and this year we've seen that it wasn't true. Michelin has done a great job, but it all has to do with how things change in this business. Technological development is happening at a much faster rate than before, so you have to invest much more in technology. But it's legal, so it has to be taken advantage of. Though I don't think this eclipses the riders. It may make some riders seem better than they really are, but at the end of the day, the best riders are always up there at the top.

Q:
It looks like this year there will not be so much talk about tyres...

Pete Benson:


Related Pictures

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Hayden, Qatar MotoGP 2008
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Jack Mordino

May 01, 2008 7:35 PM

Although he didn''t say anything we didn''t know already at least to a certain degree, he certainly put credit to some things we could only speculate upon. It''s nice to see such interviews from people from the inside. It offers good insight. We want more of this Crash.net



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