8 February 2015
Sepang MotoGP Test: Redding 'starting from scratch'
“Everything is completely different. I'm really starting from scratch to learn this bike” – Scott Redding.
Scott Redding may be staying on a Honda for his second MotoGP season, but the move from RCV1000R to RC213V means 'starting from scratch'.
The top Open class Honda rider during his rookie year with Gresini, the 22-year-old is now reunited with his long-time Moto2 team Marc VDS. The Belgian squad are stepping up to MotoGP after acquiring the factory-class RCV entry previously allocated to Redding's former team-mate Alvaro Bautista.
A debut test at Valencia in November underlined the size of the task ahead, with Redding and Marc VDS working from the ground up at Sepang this week.
“I'm learning everything more and more. I've changed my riding style, body position, braking, throttle. Everything is completely different. I'm really starting from scratch to learn this bike,” said Redding, speaking in the team pits at the end of Friday's final day. “That's why we've used no electronics yet, so I can really understand it.
“The bike last year didn't really have much power and it had the softer tyre, so it was a lot easier. With this bike you need to use the power and it's hard for me to do that because I've always had to be carrying the speed. It's another thing I'm having to learn. Slowing myself down to go faster.”
Had he looked at the data of former Moto2 rival and Honda's reigning double MotoGP champion Marc Marquez?
“We've checked a little bit. Not super-hot laps, but just some stuff for me to understand the riding style. That's why we've been trying to adapt to and learn. But seeing lines and then trying to do them on track are two completely different things.”
The Englishman was ranked 17th out of 30 riders in terms of best lap time and was around 1.4s from his 'target' position.
“I'm targeting the top seven, top six and I'm not that far away. You can lose a tenth, half-a-tenth in a wheelie and that's happening in every corner. It's just finding the right way to flow with the bike. We are not even looking for lap times at the moment. Qatar is when we need to be ready. Now we're just taking our time and trying to understand everything.”
Redding added that Sepang's shifting grip levels, which reduce as the temperature rises, added to the complexity.
“The track [grip] drops around midday so it's hard not to go the wrong way. That's why it is hard for me to learn. That midday stuff is practically useless. I can only get to learn throttle control. I can't work against lap times.
“At somewhere like Jerez where [the track grip] is consistent all day you can see when you make progress just from looking at the lap time. I'm kind of riding blind for much of the day because normally only the first and last hour are useful for lap times here.
“If you put in a new tyre at midday you will be slow and think you've gone backwards. But if you do the same thing the next morning you'd go one-second quicker. It's very confusing in that sense.”
Redding is one of a number of riders still recovering from a winter training injury, in his case a broken sternum at the Superprestigio dirt track in December.
“I didn't train for more or less 6 weeks because I broke my sternum. I've only trained hard the last week before the test and to ride this bike is very hard. It's not pain, it's just body strength of the moment,” Redding explained.
That lack of strength was one of the reasons why Redding did not attempt a race simulation.
“I'm not fully recovered and I couldn't really string that many laps together at the moment. Also I'm too far from the lap time. There's not much point in a race simulation, when you two seconds off the pace. We need to wait until we are bit closer.”
When Redding returns to Malaysia later this month the emphasis will move from modifying the rider to making some adjustments to the bike.
“We'll try some stuff on the bike, maybe some electronics and just keep learning. We'll see where we go from there. We didn't touch the bike on the first day at all. Not one thing. So maybe at the next test we'll start changing things like head angles, pivots, links. Actually start to play with the bike.”
The second Sepang test takes place from February 23-26, after which there will be one more official outing, at Losail, before the Qatar season opener on March 29.
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