Fred Corminboeuf, team manager for the CGBM-owned Interwetten Moto2 squad, sat down with Crash.net on qualifying day at Aragon to discuss Sam Lowes, his new signing for 2018, the upcoming switch to a KTM chassis, Thomas Luthi’s recent developments, and why he is allowing crew chief Gilles Bigot to follow the Swiss rider to MotoGP next season...

Crash.net:
Was it an easy decision to sign Sam Lowes for 2018 when you knew he was available?

Fred Corminboeuf:
For sure. We fit well together quickly. He’s a strong guy. He’s a sportsman. He’s a fighter and I like that. I’m a fighter and I like people fighting for the result. It was obvious that, if we had the chance, to put this guy in my team. After the first meeting, from my side and, I’m thinking from his side too, he was happy to collaborate with us.

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Crash.net:
We’ve seen the transition from MotoGP to Moto2 can be a difficult transition. Could this be an issue?

Fred Corminboeuf:
It will not be easy in the beginning but it’s a part of the job. First, we start working from Aragon. I’m already talking with him about what’s up, and what he needs to do. I saw him crash this morning and I saw how he reacted. He jumped on his scooter with his friend. We start working already now [saying], ‘OK, you need to think about that and do that.’ It’s good for him, for Aprilia and it’s good for us. The key will be when he jumps on the bike in November after the last race, he should feel comfortable and at home first. After we will have four days testing in November and he has four days to recover, relax, [be] smart, get a good feeling with the team and after we will be ready in February to jump on the real straight line to go on the first race.

Crash.net:
Is fighting for the world title the aim?

Fred Corminboeuf:
Exactly. This is the target. It’s the goal. You never know. Something can happen, rookie guys arrive so strong… But he’s one of the biggest guys in Moto2 next year and he should be at the front, always. That’s it. That’s the goal. OK, sometimes we might finish P5 if that means we lead the championship. But the goal is the championship. That’s for sure. Sam is ready for that. I think he’s also taken a lot of experience this year from MotoGP to see how he needs to manage everything. Last year he was so fast in Moto2, but a little bit too crazy maybe. But I’m sure now he’s already changed his mind. He’s a really smart guy, you know? When he close the helmet he’s sometimes a little bit too crazy a rider. He maybe used to be like this in the past but not now. He’s a smart guy. He’s a strong guy and he will do a good job.

Crash.net:
It has been a difficult season for Sam in MotoGP, but speaking to him, it is clear he is returning to Moto2 with everything to prove.

Fred Corminboeuf:
I think this year for him is so hard but he will prove to everybody he’s a better rider. He can be better and he will show something more. He can show to the MotoGP category that he is the kind of guy that you need to take in a good team. From my side, I would like him to do it not only for this. He should make it also for him. He should be happy to make world champion but it needs to be step-by-step. Before thinking about MotoGP, think about the first race [of 2018], what we need to do. We will be working like this. On Friday we test many things. On Saturday morning we test many things. On Saturday afternoon we need one lap to be in front or in a good position. Then after we think about the race. We do the weekend like this and then we do this race after race. We don’t think, ‘Oh, we need to be in front [in every session]’. We do our job through the weekend and on Sunday it’s the race. During the race, I expect my rider to be smart enough to see what he is doing, and to focus on the first guys. We need to give something incredible to take the lead or to stay on the wheels and take points. The championship is building like this. It’s about being smart.

Crash.net:
What convinced you to switch to a KTM chassis for 2018?

Fred Corminboeuf:
I think the pole position today was a KTM, no? Because we know well KTM; because it’s on the first year; because we’re already in connection with them for some years, especially with WP suspension. We like challenges. We like doing something well. To be part of the KTM family is incredible. We are proud that KTM chose us. They had the Pons team, they had many teams wanting to choose KTM but they chose us for many reasons. One of those reasons is that I have a very good crew. They are hard workers and they can help for this KTM [chassis] to improve a little bit and to be fast. It will be a good challenge for the future to stay in KTM.

Crash.net:
This season has been impressive for the chassis’ first year in the class…

Fred Corminboeuf:
Yes. [Miguel] Oliveira is very good. Brad Binder has come back so well from his injury and now he’s so fast. We’re watching this KTM for one year and we can see how they improve and how the chassis is good. Like I said before, I believe in my crew and think that they can give this chassis their small touch to improve and make it go a little bit faster. Also, in my team, with the new Triumph engine, development will be very important. My guys love this. The engineers are completely crazy about developing stuff and this is also an exciting challenge. It’s not just about the rider being out in front. It’s also about the crew. We need to give something to them. They don’t need to change material on the bike. In my side, I like to feel my team happy to find something more, to find a new way or a new solution. We were a long time with Suter and then we changed to Kalex for three years. We were never the first team, because Pons was a customer before us. VDS was a customer before us. This is normal. The change was quite easy to think about. They will come to Switzerland. We have one wind tunnel. We’ll have a crew there working for us in January in Switzerland and we will bring this KTM inside the wind tunnel making development and I’m sure we will do something well.

Crash.net:
We’re nearly 14 rounds into the season and Thomas is arguably as close to winning the Moto2 title as he has ever been. What is behind his success this year?

Fred Corminboeuf:
I say always we win together, we lose together. OK, the relationship with his crew chief of two years [Gilles Bigot] now is perfect. Thomas has got experience. He is a very smart guy and a strong guy. He knows how to win. He knows how to be on the podium. He knows how to not be too stupid, and to stay on the wheels to make fourth of fifth if he needs to. We have all the conditions except we have [Franco] Morbidelli, a very, very strong rider. For the rest, we are completely fit in the championship. Yes, it’s a good time. It’s the right crew, the right time, a good rider and a good bike. Everything fits well. We were 53 points behind the leader after Misano last year. Now after Misano we are only nine points behind Morbidelli. Until the last two races [in '17] we were fighting for the title with Zarco. Now we are completely involved and I expect Tom to make the difference in the last four races. In the end I expect a lot from the overseas races.

Crash.net:
You mentioned Tom’s intelligence. He has been incredibly consistent this year, bar the crash at the Sachsenring, when he was contesting the lead. Was it difficult to pick him up after that moment?

Fred Corminboeuf:
No, he’s a ‘comeback’ rider. He came back really strong at Brno and we won the race. It really wasn’t difficult. The good thing is that when Tom makes a mistake, he knows why, he knows how [it happened]. It was his mistake in Sachsenring. He was behind Franco and a little bit the wrong line, a little bit too fast – we don’t know. Less concentration, less focus – we don’t know, but he made the mistake and crashed. That’s life. This is part of racing. First, he arrived in the box and said ‘Sorry’. But what could we say? Now, we’ve done 13 races and had ten podiums. It’s an incredible year and we’re so proud of everyone, from the kitchen to the box. Everybody fights in the same way and that’s great.

Crash.net:
Why do Thomas and his crew chief Gilles work so well together? Do their attributes compliment one another?

Fred Corminboeuf:
It’s difficult to say. I would like to say something that maybe Tom would not like. In the past Tom was a more, let’s say, director in the box. He would push the chief mechanic and say, ‘There is a problem with the front, we need to change this!’ Now it’s different with Gilles. When he does something like this, Gilles will say, ‘Take a seat. I need to think.’ He can’t be nervous and want this more, or that more. Gilles is a smart guy, a relaxed guy, and last year it took Tom five races to trust him completely. When Tom passed this step he was really good. This chemistry between them grew and now it makes very good sense.

Crash.net:
Thomas has made no secret that he would like to continue working with Gilles when he moves up to MotoGP in 2018. Is this likely to happen?

Fred Corminboeuf:
Yeah, yeah. Gilles asked me and I said ‘Yes.’ Gilles is more than 60 years old and for him it’s like a gift to jump up to MotoGP and finish his career. When two guys match so well, why break this? Gilles gave me a lot. I have some guys around me now and they are small Gilles. He gave to me a lot and it was obvious. I let him go because I’m happy for them.

Crash.net:
So will the crew that works with Sam be very similar to your current crew?

Fred Corminboeuf:
Almost the same crew like Tom has now, except one mechanic and a chief. We cannot confirm 100 percent now but we are on a good way and Sam meets them already and everything will match.