Interview Hector Barbera: “I hope this is the turning point”
After two seasons in MotoGP with the Aspar Team, Héctor Barberá stars down a new path with Pramac Racing. The rider from Dos Aguas, Spain, joins the team as the sole rider and will be responsible for developing the satellite team’s 1000cc GP12. He had an encouraging start at the Sepang Test, chalking up the sixth fastest time, and has high expectations for the year ahead.
Héctor, you left the Sepang Test on a positive note, even better than at your debut with Pramac Racing in the post Valencia Grand Prix test last November.
“Yeah, the test went really well. Not like the Valencia test, where I had to take a lot of breaks because my shoulder was not quite 100% after injuring it. In Sepang, I felt pretty good from the first lap, I was physically recovered and was happy because the bike had also improved. Everything has been positive between last year and now.”
What did you think after the second day, when you finished between the frontrunners and Valentino Rossi on the factory Ducati?
“It’s true, I was fourth place the second day and my Ducati was the fastest, although that bike isn’t done being developed, so you can assumed that they (the official team) are going to get a bit better. But I adjusted really well with the new team it was easier to make fast lap times and, more importantly, I made them more consistently.”
From a technical point of view, what differences did you find between Pramac Racing’s Ducati at the Test and the one you tried at the end of the year?
“The bike has gone through a lot of changes. Especially with the setup and geometry; it’s very different from what I tried in November. It’s the same bike as the one in Valencia but they changed the base settings and it works better. It’s a little more docile and the electronics have also improved. The 1000s require a little more arm strength and your back tires more, and what we have done is make the set-up to where it is more ridable and can be managed better with the electronics.”
When will you get the final version of the GP12 and what differences will there be between it and the factory Ducati?
“I want to have the 2012 bike as soon as possible. I heard that we’ll have it after the first two or three races, but we could have it by Jerez. It seems the Ducati they tested in Malaysia is still going to have more changes and until then it isn’t considered the final version. It’s clear that the new GP12 appears to be better and it has some changes that could help us, so now I really want to try it, because it will be the final bike for the season. The question is to when exactly we will have it.”
Will your bike be very different from the factory Ducati this year?
“In principle, we will have a bike on equal ground with the official bike. The team isn’t official, but the bike is, so we should start with a very similar bike.”
In Sepang, we saw that Ducati was closer to the Hondas and Yamahas. Do you think it’s going to be on the same level this season?
“At Ducati they have done an incredible amount of work, and something that usually takes a year to do, they did in two months. They’ve done a fantastic job, but then again, two months is a short time, and I think the bike will be a base from which to evolve. There are still some remaining details and until they are improved it’s not considered the final motorcycle. We’ll have to wait and adapt to the situation as best as possible. Our aim in the next tests is to perform at our best, give more than 100% and try to be the best Ducati despite not having the best bike.”
What will you focus on at the second Test of the season (at end of the month in Malaysia)?
“I think they are bringing new parts to try, we won’t be working on the chassis because like I said, it’s not the final bike, but we can work on the electronics and further develop them. At the end of the first test I was seven tenths off Lorenzo, who was second fastest, so we are not as far from the front as we have been before. I think a third or fourth place finish is not unrealistic; it would be great to do that with this bike.”
The 2012 grid will have 21 riders. Do you think it will be more difficult this year to be in the top 10? What goals do have for your third year in the premier class?
“Better than top ten, I think I can be in the top six, I think this year I have a better chance to be there. We’ve made big changes and we’ll have the new bike and also Ducati is a little closer to the front so that will also help. I think all the changes that have occurred in the category will push me to aim for the podium. We know it’s complicated, there are a lot of really good bikes and good riders and teams, but I don’t think it’s too ambitious to want to be there. I think I have the ability, so does the team, and the bike is good … If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t be racing. I’m ambitious; I want to give my best and I know I’m where I belong.”
So Héctor Barberá will be fighting with the riders at the front in 2012…
“I hope so; I hope this is the turning point. I’m better prepared, physically and mentally. The last few years have been pretty tough but the bike wasn’t great, and although the Aspar team always did their very best for me, it cost us. This year Ducati made a big change and I think we’re going see the difference.”