Interview with Niklas Ajo: ”We can be closer to the leading group”

06.08.2013

Avant Tecno KTM rider trains hard in summer break, intending to continue his strong form at Indianapolis.

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Niklas Ajo reaches the halfway point of the Moto3 World Championship fourteenth in the standings with 32 points on the board, only eight fewer than those he achieved last season. The Avant Tecno KTM rider is satisfied so far and expects to improve in the remaining nine races, closing in on the leading group on race day.

This summer, Ajo is training hard ahead of the next round of competition: The Indianapolis GP.

After eight races, what mark do you give yourself for the first half of the World Championship?
”The truth is that I’m pretty happy with the results so far, so I would give myself an 8.”

How would you describe these first races of the season?
”I think we can be happy. Except in the last race, which I rode with a small fracture in my wrist, and the two races that I could not finish because of crashes, the rest of the results have been good. I’ve always finished in the top 10, besides in Austin, where that was only denied by contact with another rider on the final lap. It is at the end of races where I think I could have done more sometimes. In any case, I reflect well on this first half of the season.”

So, are you satisfied? Did you expect to achieve such results?
”Yes, I think I can be satisfied with the work done so far, although I need a bit more consistency. We must accept that in this first half of the season there is a group of riders who have been a step above the rest, but I think I could maybe have done a little better. However, overall it is a good start.”

For example, in Austin, you were in the fight for the podium. Was this in your plans so early in the season?
”Possibly not so high up, nor so soon. Everything is very close and the differences between the riders and bikes are very small. If you have a bad day, you can go from fifth to out of the points in an instant. It is true that so far, Salom, Rins and Viñales —and in some races Folger— seem to be a bit further ahead, but behind them there are a group of nearly fifteen riders who have an intense fight, race after race.”

Is it possible to close in on these riders who are a step ahead in the second half of the season?
”Honestly, I think we can be closer. They are already going very fast, so it will be difficult for them to take more steps forward. In contrast, we other riders have much more room for improvement, so we should find it easier to improve and gradually reduce the distance to them.”

Do you feel that you have dipped in recent races?
”No. I was only worried and upset about the last race at Sachsenring, because my wrist injury kept me from having a good weekend. I suffered a lot. In practice and qualifying I felt comfortable, so I think I have been at the same level.”

Personally, what do you think has been your best and worst race so far?
”Despite the end result, my best race this year I think was in Austin. It was a very full weekend, with a good position on the grid —seventh— and we fighting for the podium on Sunday. It was too bad about the contact on the last lap. And probably the worst two Grands Prix for results and feeling were in Catalonia and Germany.”

After half a season with the new KTM, how you feel with it? What features stand out about it?
”I’m comfortable with the new KTM. Compared to last year, I think this year the bike is lighter and has much more power. I think that, unlike last year, you have to ride it more smoothly.”

What is the goal for the second half of the season?
”The goal should be to continue at the level we have shown so far. We have to fight to be closer to the leading group and be prepared for hard races that will be fought until the final lap. I want to always be in the top ten.”

Do you think the circuits that are coming up are better suited to your riding style?
”Maybe a little better. However, in the end every race is different and this does not matter. It will be what it is.”

Of these remaining tracks,  are there any that you are more eager to visit than others?
”Not really, although if I had to pick one, it would be Phillip Island. It is a track that I like, where last year I had a good race but could not finish. I want to rectify that.”

In this summer break for the World Championship, what does Niklas Ajo get up to?
”Train —train hard. A lot of fitness. Because of my knee injury, the preseason was not as good as it needed to be and during the season there is much travel —it’s hard to find the time to train. Now is the time to do so, in order to face the second half of the year as well as possible.”

Give us a wish for the rest of the season.
”A podium. It doesn’t matter at which circuit.”