How does that style work with Johnny?

PR: Right at the beginning when Johnny came to us we first worked on the physical aspects on the bike such as footpegs, handlebars etc and I then told him to go out and give it a go. He came in told me his feeling and I then changed the bike accordingly.

But he then started asking me what I had done to make the change so I said to him that I was used to working with fast riders and that the way we worked was that they would come in and tell me their feelings and I would make the changes necessary. The feelings were their job and the changes were mine.

My opinion is that the rider has to be totally focused on the bike and not the mechanicals, but when he asked me at that time I did tell him exactly what I had done and he went out again. His lap times improved, I made some more changes, told him what I had done and how they would affect the lap and he found that to be true.

We did that for the rest of the day and by the end of the day he didn’t ask me anymore what changes I’d made.

 

So you were building trust?

PR: Exactly, every time he went out, what we said would happen, did happen and Johnny though ‘This guy knows what he’s doing, I don’t need to do his job’ It’s this that 30 years experience in racing brings. From that point on I did my job and he did his. Even now sometimes when things are hard he may come in with setting suggestions but I just need to remind him of how we work best. I sometimes have to pull him up slightly.

 

How do you manage the communication in the box?

PR: When Johnny comes in, he’ll sit down with Davide [Gentile] the engine management guy, Javier Gonzalez the Showa guy and myself, but the person who leads the conversation will be me.

They know that I don’t want them to give any input to Johnny without my approval because inputs to the rider can be confusing. Over time though we have got to know each other well and they know how to make points of suggestions. Input to the rider has to be carefully managed to keep their focus and that’s my job.

 

So you’re managing confidence and trust so that the only thing the rider thinks about is their experience on track.

PR: I would say so. A rider who is going at 300kph has to have total confidence and focus to go fast.

 

What would you say are Johnny’s strong points?

PR: The first thing is that he’s very intelligent. He learns every single day.

Also the confidence he has means that he can accept criticism, sometimes even quite strong criticism in a constructive way. If I say “Johnny, you’re not riding well” he knows that I’m not doing it to break his balls I’m doing it so that he improves – we are a strong unit and I’d never say anything with a negative intention. The important thing is that he’s intelligent and his open mind means that he can take it.

There are many riders, like maybe 80% of them, that when the results are not coming want to blame the bike rather than blaming themselves but Johnny strikes the right balance. His skills really are crazy.

As you know a rider’s style is very difficult to change but Johnny’s greatest skill is probably adapting to situations both to do with the track and bike. Whichever situation he is faced with, he is willing to change as necessary to get the most from the situation.

I’ve never seen before a rider being able to change the whole way he takes a corner within 2 laps. From a riders point of view this is so impressively difficult.

When I was in the 500’s with Norifumi Abe it was easy to see that you had to brake hard, stop the bike and fire out of the corners but despite knowing you had to do that I just couldn’t do it, my style was too strongly established. My apex speed was maybe 10 kph faster than Abe’s but I couldn’t change.

It’s the same with Marc Marquez, he’s always willing and able to change to get the maximum out of any situation.

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