Niklas Ajo is preparing for his fourth full season in the World Championship. He has a new bike and a new team this year, as part of Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo. Although the races are expected to be as tight as ever, the Finn is confident of placing high up the order. The first race takes place on Sunday night in Qatar.
How are you feeling after the 2014 preseason?
”We have tried many new things this winter, because a lot has changed. We have a new bike, team,… Basically everything was new at the start of the preseason. However, we managed to work in a very similar way to last year and that helped us. Moreover, all the tests we have been able to participate in have gone quite well. We’ve had 13 perfect days for riding, in which we have put in many miles and tried new things. For example, there has been time to change my riding style a bit. It’s been a good preseason and the level is very high, so we have to work hard to get good results. I think we have a good chance to be at the top.”
Were the results what you had expected at the start of the preseason?
”Yes, I had expected good results because I had a good feeling that we could compete well. It’s true that the lap times were not great at the end, but the overall pace has been. Hot laps were not the objective at the tests. I feel good with the bike and the team and I am sure everything will be okay.”
This year you are part of a new team: Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo. You also have a new chief mechanic, Erkki Siukola. How is the new team looking?
”The truth is that the new team is shaping up well. I have a good feeling about things. Personally, I feel great with Erkki, because it is easy to communicate with people who speak the same language as me. Having a fellow Finn in the team is helpful, undoubtedly.”
Have you prepared differently for this season compared to previous ones?
”Yes, we have tried to ride alone more and relax a little more. We are focusing on the work itself and not getting distracted by the work of others. You have to trust yourself and your team. If you do your job right, the results always come.”
It is the first year for Husqvarna in the Moto3 World Championship. Is it also a special year for you?
”Yes, it’s special. It’s my fourth year in the World Championship and it is an important year. To be part of the Husqvarna project in its first year is an honour.”
What are the strengths of the new Husqvarna FR 250 GP?
”It’s hard to say because it is a very complete bike in all aspects. I suppose one of the strengths is the engine, which is very powerful. We’ll see in the first few races how everything goes.”
This week the season begins in Qatar. What would you improve for the first race?
”I don’t think it’s time to be improving anything. I just have to be positive from the first practice onwards to have the best feeling possible with the bike, the team and everything else. I’ve already had time to test and now we just need to feel good about things.”
This is your fourth full year. What is your goal for this season?
”The goal is to be as fast as possible. Maybe to be in the Top 5, but I do not like too much talk about final results because you never know what will happen throughout the season. We need to focus on our work, do our best and then we’ll see. You cannot set a position as a target because it’s impossible to know. We’ll have to wait until the first few races.”
You seem more relaxed this year.
”Yes, we are trying to be calmer. Sometimes I get very nervous and that is not good, because then you make simple mistakes. If you are relaxed it is easier to work by yourself and with others. It’s important to find a routine and always do same thing every day.”
Last season was really exciting and very closely contested. How do you see this year going?
”Now there are many riders who are very fast and they are always at the top. It’s impossible to say who will be the best this year. That is something that we will begin to see after a few races.”
Unlike last year, this season you won’t be alone in your box: you will share it with Danny Kent. Will this help you?
”Yes, of course. Having him beside me is always better than being alone. Basically it is a good motivation. You can also compare things and even ’play’ around with things together.”
This winter you trained Ice Racing with Jack Miller. He said he was close to beating you. Is that true?
”No, it is not. It is impossible for him to beat me on ice. [Laughs] Here on asphalt it’s a little harder to beat him, but on the ice I’m faster.”