You would be hard pressed to find a busier man in the MotoGP paddock than Aki Ajo.

The Finnish team owner, whose Ajo Motorsport outfit has tasted world championship success on three occasions, devotes his time across all three grand prix classes.

Mike De Meglio, Marc Marquez and Sandro Cortese all benefited from Ajo's support on their respective runs to world titles, which proved to be just reward for Ajo's years of hard work and organising capabilities since his team's world championship debut in 2001.

For 2012 his team covers two classes with Miguel Oliveira sitting a promising third in the Moto3 category, while Johann Zarco comfortably leads the Moto2 standings in the team's first year in the class.

What's more, Ajo manages promising MotoGP rookies Maverick Vi?ales and Jack Miller, ensuring he rarely enjoys a moment of rest across a grand prix weekend. spoke with Ajo before the summer break to discuss 2015 so far, the fine form of Danny Kent and the state of the Moto2 series...
In Moto3 your team endured a difficult start to the season but we could see from Jerez and Le Mans there was a definite step forward. What changed?

Aki Ajo:
Nothing dramatic. Just step-by-step we started to know about the bike. And the riders on the bike started to be like one piece together. The bike was completely new for this year and we were not so lucky in the wintertime for the testing. There were no good conditions for the test. It was really cold and wet in Spain. It makes the start difficult and for sure it was more difficult than we expect.

I don't say there was a panic but of course it was not really easy to start the season. We were not sure of the level and the first races were not easy. I'm so happy that KTM and all our partners trust the project and now it looks like we are back there again. Our team won the race (in Mugello and Assen). [We need] To just keep working and trust ourselves. There is nothing special happening in the bike. It is more the small things, starting to understand them more. It takes some time.
How useful has it been having a team that regularly tests between the races?

Aki Ajo:
The factory tests. We test. We test all the time. That's also one point of course to keep the confidence for the riders and the motivation. They see that everyone is doing everything all the time. We test this week. We tested two weeks ago. We tested on month ago. We test all the time. Thanks to the factory for this and all the staff. You can never give up.

We have to trust that we have a good product and to always get the best out of this material that we have at the moment. We are confident. We have to go race by race. We don't need to think about the championship so much. We go race by race and then at the end of the year we will see whether we are fighting for the title or not. We need to trust that we have a good package.
Considering the level of commitment HRC and KTM are putting into the class do you feel the money being spent in Moto3 is sustainable?

Aki Ajo:
Personally I really enjoy it. With Honda, also Mahindra is really strong. It's three manufacturers really strong there. I really like it and I think it's important to keep the interest of the people, the sponsors, the riders and everyone. It's good for the championship and the Moto3 class.
What attracted you to working with Miguel Oliveira in 2015?

Aki Ajo:
For sure he's one of the biggest talents that I've seen in the last years in the championship of course. Maybe the personality. I see that he's really focussed on his work. I think he's the rider that don't give up. I see a really strong character so that's what convinced me.
You worked closely with Danny Kent in the past. Have his performances this season surprised you?

Aki Ajo:
Maybe a little bit. I always knew that Danny has the talent. I don't keep him three years in my team if I don't trust [him]. He was very young when he came here. For sure he learnt a lot with us. He came in from the Rookies Cup and in 2011 and '12 he was in our school here. In 2013 he was in Moto2 and in 2014 he wanted to come back. We have three great years together but of course we maybe didn't achieve what we were looking for.

Of course now I am happy for him that he find some package that really fits him. Danny also has some problems in the past sometimes with his self-confidence let's say. Sometimes it's good, sometimes not. The results were a little bit up and down. Now it looks better. For sure one big reason is that maybe our bike didn't fit really well his riding style. He keeps a lot of corner speed. Our bike is a little bit opposite. You stop the bike then accelerate. Now it looks like the package he has fits very well for him. Of course it also looks like he makes one step more mentally.
Moving on to Moto2. This is your first year in the class and yet Johann Zarco is leading the championship. Has this exceeded your expectations?

Aki Ajo:
I don't know, I don't think about this. I always feel that when we want to do something we are very passionate people in the team. We just want to do our best. If we can win we are happy but we are not celebrating too much or thinking, 'this is incredible!' It's normal work. When you get a result it's like a good trophy for the work. That's it. Moto2 is a different category. I wouldn't say that it's easy.

Technically it's a little more simple than Moto3. If you can run a good team in Moto3 I think you can run in every category. I'm open for this. You need to have good, passionate people and of course really good partners. We have technical partners like WP, Kalex. We already get really good information from everyone and good support. They trust us so it was easy to start. Johann is in an incredible mood at the moment, especially at the beginning of the year. He was so ready, already in the winter season compared to other riders so it makes it easier to start the season if the rider is like that.
You worked with Zarco back in 2011 in the 125 category. What attracted to you work with him again?

Aki Ajo:
This was important. Just the same as I say with Danny Kent. Also that he came back. The same happened with Sandro Cortese. He was two years with us, one year out and he came back and we win the championship. I hope we can do the same with Johann. It's hard and too early to say. In any case, like I say, I am never thinking that we need to win the championship. We want to improve all the time, learn and we'll see at the end. It's always a great experience in any case.
Are you using the 2014 Kalex frame at the moment or the 2015?

Aki Ajo:
We have tried both and in my opinion there is no difference. People are talking a lot. Maybe we are technically not clever but we don't think [there is] a difference.
So you have settled on just one?

Aki Ajo:
No, we are using both. But there is no difference.
Dorna announced in May that the Moto2 class will continue as a single-make engine supplier beyond 2019. Do you feel the class would benefit from the participation of more than one engine manufacturer?

Aki Ajo:
It's always difficult to say. If you ask my honest answer, is that I agree. I always like [when] there are manufacturers like I already say in Moto3. I like it. There is also a big battle between manufacturers. Also you can convince partners and sponsors better if a manufacturer is behind you. But I understand Dorna also. There are many positive points. The rules are not changing really quickly and bikes are really equal. It's also a good point. If you ask my opinion I would like to have more manufacturers in Moto2.
From your experience does finding sponsors prove more difficult when regulations are like this?

Aki Ajo:
Maybe. It depends on the situation. If you make a good work and you get one manufacturer in the background maybe it's much more easy to find the budget. Now the cost is down but it's not easy to find the budget in Moto2.
You work closely with Jack Miller, who skipped over the Moto2 class and went straight to MotoGP. Do you buy into the argument that the current regulations for the intermediate class don't do enough to adequately prepare a rider for a MotoGP machine?

Aki Ajo:
I don't think so. We see like our rider, Maverick Vi?ales. Last year he was riding only one year in Moto2 and he is performing really well in MotoGP at the moment. When there is a talented rider I think all the bikes are good preparation. It's not the bike. It's more the character and the people behind the rider, who can support him and find the right direction for the rider. I don't know which bike can be better than Moto2. Maybe something, but for me it's also ok.
Do you expect to see more riders doing what Jack has done in the future?

Aki Ajo:
I would not say common but maybe this can happen. But I don't think many riders can handle it like Jack.
You're obviously involved with KTM who will officially join the MotoGP class in 2017. Is there a chance you could be involved somehow with this project.

Aki Ajo:
We are just working with them in Moto3.
Finally Aki, the Kymi Ring, a new venue in Finland, plans to host a round of the MotoGP championship in the future. Have you spoken with anyone involved in the making of the circuit?

Aki Ajo:
At least they are planning. They are talking that during the next year the track will be ready but I don't know. I hope so but I don't know.


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