Exclusive Axel Pons interview: “I have to be a bit more calm in the races”
Axel Pons competes in his third season in the world championship with the Pons Racing Team and has steadily improved over the years. But some heavy crashes have marred what could have been much better results this year, like at his home race in Catalunya where he crashed out while running inside the top ten. And also this weekend at the British GP his race ended early as he crashed out in the tricky conditions. But the young rider from Barcelona is staying optimistic and trying to be a bit more calm in the races to bring home the results he deserves.
The crew of Vroom Magazine had the chance to talk to Axel after the first day of practice at the British GP in Silverstone. Here’s what he had to say.
How would you personally evaluate how your season went so far?
Well, I was expecting a bit more from the beginning of the season, but it was quite difficult. Little by little I think that each race we have been improving, I have been feeling more comfortable and that’s basically it. Each race we have been faster and we have been in better positions, I hope in this race also we can improve a little bit more and that’s the goal. The goal is to try to win a race, to try to be on the podium, to try to do it as good as possible. And I think if we follow the same path as we are on right now, then we will achieve it. We’ll see.
Compared to last year your speed really has improved, but then crashes and sometimes mechanical problems seem to throw you back again.
Yes, I had many crashes this season also. I think that sometimes my heart pushes more than my head, so I need to try to solve this. In Montmelo I crashed, also because I wanted to finish as the first one of my group. I don’t know, I think I have to be a bit more calm in the races and use the head more. [laughs] And we’ll see. But yeah, this is my third season in the world championship and this also helps me a lot, because I already know the tracks much better and so on. It’s my second season with the same bike. So I’m happy and I think I’m doing a good job. For sure there are many aspects that we have to improve, but we’re trying.
What do you think is the biggest task you still need to improve on?
I think that in this class it’s been shown that everyone is very near in times and there is no big difference and all the things that we have to improve is just little things and maybe in one track we feel very comfortable and you know it a lot and you feel comfortable and the times just go, but there are other tracks or another day where you don’t feel so good and you don’t feel confident and you just don’t do good. And the main thing we have to do is for the races to be as confident as possible and be strong and motivated and we will get the results and will make the difference.
You’ve been riding in the team of your father for some time now. Is that difficult for you, does it get easier with time?
I’ve always, well, at least almost, from the second or third year after I started racing I’ve always been in the team of my dad and I think he has helped me a lot throughout all my racing career, so I can’t be more grateful to him and that he’s given me the opportunity to race in his team is incredible. And I do the best I can and try to thank his effort with good results.
Your father’s got a wealth of experience to share, but now that you’ve gained some experience yourself, do you still accept his advice or start to reject it?
No. He’s been two times world champion and I’ve been none so far, so… [laughs] I think he has much more experience than I do, so I think his advice is always useful, as is all advice that anyone else gives you. You listen to the advice and if you feel the advice can be helpful then you take it into practice and if it’s not, then you just leave it. [laughs]
You got a new teammate this year with Aleix Espargaro and you two seem to have a good rapport, does that help your progress as well?
Well, Aleix is a rider with much more experience than me, he’s got a lot of experience with different bikes, the four-strokes, he also knows the tracks much better than me and I think at this moment he’s a step above me. So I think he has very good things that I can learn from and I think maybe he has not so many things he can learn from me. [laughs] But it’s always good to try to have a good relation with the teammate and if it’s possible to help one another on the track then it’s great. I think if he has a problem, I won’t have a problem to help him or the other way around, so it’s great.
As you said, your season didn’t quite start as expected…
Yeah, the problem is that basically in the races I haven’t be as strong as I wanted to be. Mainly in the first laps, in this category it is very important in the first laps to be very aggressive to stay in the group because when you lose there it is very difficult to keep in touch with them and I think in Montmelo we took a big step forward and we improved this. In the first laps we maintained a good distance to the group I wanted to be with and all the race I kept the distance with them, so that is the main point. And that was where I was missing the most in the previous races, so I think in that we have improved.
What is your target now for the rest of the year?
Well, for sure I would like to take a podium or if it’s possible to win a race. Just to do the best I can in the races and be proud of my work.
There’s been a bit of talk about the new start/finish straight at Silverstone, does this change anything for you?
No, the start and finish straight doesn’t make a big difference, because the race track is the same. But yeah, it’s a very long race track, very fast with very long straights and it’s a nice track, but a diffcult one. I find it very difficult, last year I had many problems, but this year I feel much more comfortable.
Thanks to Axel for taking the time to chat with us and best of luck for the rest of the season.
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