Jake Dixon talks Moto2 title quest, Fabio friendship, MotoGP and F1! - Exclusive

GASGAS Aspar Moto2 star Jake Dixon was a special guest on this week’s Crash.net MotoGP podcast.
Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, Malaysian MotoGP, 23 October
Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, Malaysian MotoGP, 23 October

The Englishman, who took six podiums during a breakthrough 2022 campaign, joined Crash.net podcast regulars Keith Huewen, Pete McLaren and Harry Benjamin to reflect on his grand prix career and big goals for this season.

“I believe in myself. I back myself. 2023 is going to be my year and I hope for everyone that watches and supports me I can put on a good show,” Dixon said.

Dixon was runner-up in the 2018 British Superbike championship before making the jump to Moto2, but a tough rookie season on a KTM chassis brought just two points finishes.

“I struggled so much with the team, bike, travelling the world, everything! It was just all out-of-sorts and actually at that time I was struggling with depression because I'd gone from doing really, really well to doing really, really bad.

“That's something that's super hard and super difficult to deal with in motorcycle racing. [At one stage] I didn't want to continue racing.

“Then I signed with the Petronas team for 2020. I started getting going really well with top fives, leading races and then unfortunately broke my wrist.”

Dixon’s hard-earned momentum frustratingly slipped away again during 2021, a season that is best remembered for a pair of promising MotoGP stand-in appearances on a Petronas Yamaha.

“2021 never really got going. It was super difficult. I struggled with the crew chief from day one and then obviously the team exploded and had no money, no resources, no nothing.

“I thought, ‘oh God! How have I gone from being at the front in ‘20 to not even being in the top 15 and struggling in ‘21?’”

But another career twist was on the horizon.

A return to Aspar saw the 27-year-old immediately on the Moto2 pace last season, quadrupling his previous best points tally and romping to sixth in the world championship.

“The biggest things have been having a good bike, a great team and believing in what I can do and my abilities,” Dixon said. “Because I've not got any faster since I entered the World championship, I've just learned to manage myself better. Take it lap by lap, corner by corner. And try not to rush too much.”

“I went from 13th at Valencia with Petronas straight to the first test with Aspar and I was quickest,” Dixon recalled. “Last year was great. I've learned so much… I like stepping up to the plate and I genuinely feel this year I can win the championship.”

Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, British MotoGP, 7 August
Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, British MotoGP, 7 August

Darren, Sarah, Frankie and Fabio

Dixon also believes painful past setbacks on and off the track, including a health scare for wife Sarah, have ultimately shaped him into a more rounded human being.

“Obviously it's difficult with certain circumstances that happen. That's just life though, and it's made me who I am today. You’d never want those things to happen, but I'm grateful for what I've become through those circumstances,” he said.

“Motorcycle racing is not the ‘be all and end all’, that's something that I have learned to realise over the last few years.

“You see me joking around in the paddock, I just enjoy it and I want to give the fans something different, something to laugh about. But when I need to be serious, I’m serious.”

Son of former motorcycle and sidecar racer Darren Dixon, other key people in Jake’s racing life are wife Sarah (also from a racing family), manager Frankie Carchedi (crew chief to 2020 world champion Joan Mir at Suzuki) plus friend and 2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo

“Everything helps. Dad got me so far and then Frankie came on board and has believed in me since day dot,” Dixon said. “He’s always said I’m going to be in MotoGP one day and he still stands by that. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.

“My wife Sarah. She gets it. She understands the job. She's my biggest fan and biggest supporter.

“And then obviously Fabio helps me where he can.”

Fabio Quartararo, Jake Dixon, MotoGP race, Malaysian MotoGP, 23 October
Fabio Quartararo, Jake Dixon, MotoGP race, Malaysian MotoGP, 23 October

The friendship between Quartararo and Dixon has continued long after their time as SRT ‘team-mates’ (in different classes) came to end, withj the pair frequently seen offering advice and support to each other during race weekends.

“It’s funny because he helps me in certain things and there's certain things that people don't see off camera where I can help him,” Dixon said.

“Like in Phillip Island, when he crashed,” Dixon added, referring to last October’s accident that dealt a major blow to Quartararo’s title hopes. “I was one of the first to go see him.

“I knew it was a time that he needed me and I said to him, ‘look mate, I'm not going to bullshit you. I'm here when you need me. I'm not here to [stroke] your ego [in the good times]. I’ll be with you when you're down because that's when you need a friend.’

“We work well together. He believes in me and he always says to me, he will push on the side of things with Yamaha to try and hopefully one day get me a ride there. Because he says that what I did in those two [MotoGP] wild-cards was more than anyone has done jumping on the Yamaha.

“I have such good relationships around me. It's obviously really, really nice to have. I'm learning day by day, taking things as they come and just enjoying life.”

Jake Dixon, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP, 17 September
Jake Dixon, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP, 17 September

‘Being Moto2 champion would open (MotoGP) doors’

Dixon knows his best chance of securing a MotoGP seat would be as a reigning Moto2 champion.

“All I am thinking of right now is that my dream and ambition is to be world champion this year. And if I do that, it'll open up many doors,” he said. “So I'll just focus on myself, race by race and if I do that I think the world's my oyster."

In a class as close as Moto2, with all riders using Triumph engines and Dunlop tyres, McLaren asked Dixon where he needs to improve for this season.

“Obviously, you need to have a good qualifying, although in Phillip Island I started 14th and came through to the podium!” Dixon said. “The one thing that I seemed to have struggled with and that I need to improve this year is the first 6-7 laps of the race.

“I can't seem to get going in them. I don't feel comfortable at the beginning and I don't seem to have the grip that the others seem to have around me. I don't know why and this is something that we need to work on throughout testing.

“From that point onwards, I can be the fastest guy on track, but I've given myself so much work. To come back through is super difficult because everyone's so close. To just take half a second out of the best in the world is difficult and you have to go over the limit at times.”

Dixon’s Moto2 title challenge could well depend on sealing a debut GP victory sooner rather than later, after several near misses in the past.

Huewen asked: “So where's your first win coming?”

“Could be the first race in Portugal. I really like it. Obviously crashed out of the lead!” Dixon replied. “Listen, I think if I play my cards right, if I work hard for every weekend, there isn't a track that I can't win at…”

Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, Dutch MotoGP, 26 June
Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, Dutch MotoGP, 26 June

Sprint races in MotoGP? ‘I love it!’

While affecting Dixon directly this season, the Englishman was quizzed on the introduction of Sprint races into MotoGP this year.

“I love it! I think it’s great for the fans, great for sponsors, great for everyone. More TV time.

“Ultimately, we all want to go racing. I'm sick to death of riding around for 40 minutes in a practice session setting your bike up! I'm ready to go the minute I do my first lap in FP1!

“Especially last year, the bike they gave me was so good I was able to roll out and be quick straight away. I was ‘Friday Man’, so for me it would be great. I would love it because it means less sessions for setting up your bike and more racing.

“And I love racing, as all of you have seen in Malaysia I like a bit of elbow bashing…”

Jake Dixon, British MotoGP race, 29 August
Jake Dixon, British MotoGP race, 29 August

As one of the few current Moto2 riders to have raced a MotoGP machine, does Dixon feel the intermediate class needs traction control?

“The traction control in MotoGP is so good you don't even know you've got traction control. That's the crazy thing about it. All you feel is you're just getting less power,” he revealed.

“In World Superbikes, you can almost hear the traction cutting. On the MotoGP bike you can never hear the traction cutting, even on board.

“It's a real tricky thing. Traction control does help, but you also have to have the belief in the system that it’s going to work.

“I think it would help when you step up [to MotoGP]. But then I think Moto2 (without traction control) teaches you good throttle control, to be smooth, to pick the bike up. Many things that are still relevant to riding a MotoGP bike.

“I enjoyed it and I feel better on more horsepower generally than I do on a Moto2 bike.”

Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, Dutch MotoGP, 26 June
Jake Dixon, Moto2 race, Dutch MotoGP, 26 June

'I’m going to Williams F1!'

Some quick-fire questions from Harry Benjamin saw Dixon describe himself as “the biggest F1 fan. I watch every free practice session.

“Also, when I rode for Petronas, they wanted me to do an eSports race for them on the F1 simulator. So I was going down to Brackley [Mercedes HQ] and practicing on the sims with [current F1 racer] George Russell and had James Vowles as my engineer. We still text and he helps me with certain things.”

Told that Vowles has just been appointed as team principal of Williams F1, a surprised Dixon replied:

“Has he really? Check me out, I’m going to Williams!”

Download Episode 74 at the following links...

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