A relaxed Danny Kent has stated he plans to 'stay out of trouble' in Sunday's Moto3 race, an encounter that can see him finally end Britain's 38-year wait for a grand prix world title.
Appearing burdened by pressure while racing in Sepang, Kent cut a more relaxed figure on Thursday morning at Valencia, something he attributed to knowing a 14th place finish will result in his first world championship triumph.
“It's down to the final race,” said the 21-year old. “We have a 24-point lead. Everyone is asking whether I have pressure on my shoulders [because] we've had four chances to clinch the title. You know, all we have to do is to stay out of trouble and finish in the first 14. I hope we can do that. It's not over until it's over. In racing anything can happen but I'll just be happy when I can get Sunday over and done with.
“We've had a lot of people in the media saying that I can win in the last four races and there's been a lot of pressure, [people asking], 'Are you going to do it here? Are you going to do it there?' I'd rather win it later than never.”
The scorer of eight top-three finishes in the first nine races, Kent has only tasted podium champagne once since the summer break. In contrast, sole challenger Miguel Oliveira has amassed 115 points from the past five races.
Still, Kent comes to a circuit which began his adventure with the Leopard Honda squad in November 2014 and one where he tasted victory in 2012. While planning in the junior class can always be difficult, he was confident his race pace will be enough to carry him across the line.
“For me Moto3 is one of the hardest categories in terms of planning how to do the race. Really you can't plan. You can go from one lap being in first to another lap being in tenth. Luckily this track isn't like Phillip Island, where you can come out of the last corner in first and go into turn one in tenth.
“The main thing this weekend is to work hard on our race pace. We've shown in some races that we're able to pull away. This is one of the race tracks where you're able to do that. The plan for me is to work on my own pace and try and stay out of trouble.
“It's quite simple. There isn't a lot of maths in it. We have to finish inside the top 14 and that's if we win the race. If he doesn't win the race [we're champions]… he is in great form at the minute. He's been very strong in the last couple of races so there's a very good chance that he could win the race.
“It's a track that I really enjoy. I always have done. It was the first track that I tested the Honda last year and we were able to set a very fast lap time for the first time on the bike. We have a reference on the Honda, a reference that we can start on Friday morning. We have a set-up that we know which works.”
Asked how he has felt in the week that followed his slightly disappointing seventh place in Sepang, Kent maintained he has felt less stress than in the flyaway races.
“To be honest I've been a lot more relaxed. Coming here and knowing that I have 24 points and that I only have to finish inside the top 14. The main thing is to go there and try and enjoy the race.”