22 July 2014
Moto3: Injured Ajo eager for debut podium
"I'm working hard to get my first podium of the year - that's the main goal" - Niklas Ajo.
Niklas Ajo is eager to finish what he started and claim a debut Moto3 grand prix podium when he returns from injury for the second half of the 2014 season.
The Husqvarna rider suffered a fractured right ankle while battling for a podium at Assen, forcing him to miss the Sachsenring round.
Prior to his injury the Finn had finished fifth and just 0.260s behind the winner in Italy, plus eighth in Catalonia after battling for second place until the final lap.
Ajo, who described his ankle as “swollen, but healing well” gave himself a mark of 8 out of 10 for the season so far.
“Initially the results were not as good as we were hoping for, but after Argentina we began to get much more consistent and closer to the top positions,” he explained. “It is also true that we had some bad luck at some races."
Asked about his best grand prix, Ajo added: "I think the Barcelona race. It was the first where we were really high up the order. We qualified fifth and were always close to the lead. That's not forgetting the races at Assen and Mugello, where I also had good performances."
Looking ahead, Ajo is focussed on returning to action after the summer break at Indianapolis and getting back into the podium fight.
"I'm working hard to get my first podium of the year - that's the main goal,” said the 19-year-old, competing in his fourth full grand prix season. “We're close and we have a good chance of getting on the rostrum. Races are unpredictable, so there's not much between finishing tenth and winning. We know that if we work hard enough, we will get our reward."
Ajo added: “Obviously, to win or be on the podium you have to be up there. But you just have to work hard and fight at every race, where you have to be aggressive. You have to have respect for others, but you also have to be daring if you are to get onto the podium. Normally there are many people in the front group, so we have to fight and also have a bit of luck - because everything counts and everything has to be perfect."
While Ajo has dropped to 15th in the championship, his father's Red Bull KTM Ajo squad is leading the title chase with Jack Miller. Unsurprisingly, Ajo picked the Australian as his championship favourite.
"I'm going for Jack. He's in great form and is very strong. He has a great opportunity ahead of him. The coming races will be hard and competitive and we will try to be up at the front, but I think the title is going to go to Jack."
The Husqvarna entry is presently a re-badged version of the title winning KTM.
Ajo's team-mate Danny Kent is twelfth in the world championship standings.
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