Julian Simon Interview: "Moto2 Is A Good Place To Learn For MotoGP"

Julian Simon came into the Moto2 championship as the reigning 125cc World Champion, but championships mean nothing in a brand new class. But the Mapfre Aspar rider has started the season well, despite the team switching chassis - from the Italian RSV frame to the Swiss Suter chassis - after just two races, currently 7th in the Moto2 title chase. MotoMatters.com caught up with Simon on Saturday evening at Mugello, and asked him about the differences between 125s, 250s and Moto2, and whether Moto2 provides a good preparation for the MotoGP class.

MotoMatters: You came in as 125cc champion, into a completely new class. How is that different?

Julian Simon: The biggest difference is the weight. The Moto2 bike is much more heavy compared to 125s. But the engine is easier. It's not difficult because it's a four stroke. It's very easy to open the gas in the middle of the corner, so it's not bad. But the biggest difference is the weight. Also compared to the 250, this is different.

MM: How does it compare to a 250? Is it similar, or nothing like it?

JS: I preferred the 250s. It was easier for entering the corner. But the big difference is the engine. The four stroke is much easier.

MM: A lot of people have had trouble getting used to the clutch. The clutch is very simple, and there are no electronics to help with corner entry, but you seem to be coping with it quite well?

JS: Yes, the clutch is our biggest problem. At the braking point, it is very aggressive. With 125s and 250s it was much easier, you can brake in the middle of the corner or on corner entry. This bike is more difficult to stop.

MM: How have you gone about training to ride a four stroke with that engine braking? Have you been riding supermoto or motocross?

JS: Yes, I ride supermoto, but also motocross. But still, it's completely different because this bike is heavier.But the feeling, you can practice sliding with the supermoto.

MM: You moved up to 250s and then back down to 125s, which was a very brave decision. Do you think that moving between different classes helped in training your mind to thinking about how different bikes work?

JS: It's completely different. Also, the way is completely different to 250s, so for me it is new. I did not take my experience from 250s into Moto2, for me it is very different. Maybe some of that experience, yes, but the bikes are completely different.

MM: You've switched chassis [from RSV to Suter], are you happier with the new chassis?

JS: Yes, I am more happy. It's easier for changing directions in the corner, it's easier in the chicanes.

MM: So here [at Mugello] it's much better, because of all of the changes of direction?

JS: Yes. Only the problem at the moment is a lot of vibration, a lot of chattering, but we are working on it.

MM: The point of the Moto2 class is to train and educate riders. Do you think that in the Moto2 class right now, the riders make a bigger difference than in 125s or 250s?

JS: Sure. At the moment, it is very complicated to stay in the front places, especially in the qualifying practice. For example, today in qualifying I made the 10th place. So in qualifying, it is more difficult to stay at the front. In the race, at the moment, when you have a good rhythm, you can stay in front, no problem. So for me, the most difficult is the qualifying practice.

MM: Is it frustrating? Because two tenths of a second can be 10 or 15 places …

JS: Yes! It's very difficult, because here at Mugello, many riders followed another rider who is faster [and got a good starting position], so it is complicated to stay at the front. The most important thing is to start on the second row or third row, maximum, to get a good start. But the most important thing is to have a good rhythm to make a good race, and go fast in the race.

MM: Do you think Moto2 is a good class to learn the skills you need to ride a MotoGP bike?

JS: Yes. But at the moment, Moto2 is still changing a lot. The evolution is maybe at 50%, and the evolution is changing a lot. The times at the moment, the 250s are faster. It is necessary to improve the clutch, also the tires, also the weight. But the bikes are coming better.

MM: So maybe in a year or two, it will be better preparation?

JS: Yes. But it is good preparation, you take experience for MotoGP. I think Moto2 is good to learn for MotoGP.

MM: I've been trying to compare Moto2 and 250s to go to MotoGP...

JS: At the moment, I think Moto2 is better to go to MotoGP.

MM: Because of the engine characteristics?

JS: Yes, four stroke I think is better.

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The answer to the Moto GP question could be best answered by Toni Elias. He has won on all 4 types of bikes. (moto GP, 250cc, 125cc & Moto2)

I'm still actually pretty upset about Elias not getting a ride in the premiere class this year. I hate to get choosy but if there was anyone who should have been dropped, it was Marco Melandri. Granted we have to take into consideration the bike he was on.

In my eyes Melandri even admitted as much with his remarks about switching forks(and saying something to the tune of "this is my last chance"). He knows that he's under a lot of pressure in the premiere class this year if he doesn't provide results to showcase his ability.

Also, his recent behavior surrounding the hoopla going into the Mugello race was not cool in my eyes. Seems like he was vying for attention.

Anyhow, I hope Toni wins the Moto2 class and gets a proper seat on a factory bike next year. As someone posted previously, who knows, maybe a Ducati?

twitter @deftjester

At mag.gpweek.com RDP says:

"The problem is ... the 250 was a very good bike to learn how to set. It was very difficult. It was a race bike. For me Moto2 is like a street bike. All the same engine, and if you don’t have the good frame you are on the back.

It is a good solution because many rider is there, but to learn if you want to go to MotoGP I think it is not a good solution."


Assuming you mean DePuniet... He hasn't raced a Moto2 bike, has he even riden one? Surely the opinion of Simon who has raced 250s and Moto2 and tested a Desmosedici (IIRC) would be better. Or Elias of course, although his 250 experience is a while ago now.

In this week's issue of mag.gpweek.com Elias is quoted as saying:

The other problem is the shortage of Hp punishes better riders and allows less experienced riders to join groups that take them over their heads. The engine is very slow, very very slow, much more than I thought. It means everybody can be fast. I think it is necessary for more power to see the difference between good riders, normal riders, bad riders. Now everybody is fast.


MM: How does it compare to a 250? Is it similar, or nothing like it?
JS: I preferred the 250s.

Then goes on to say how the 4 stroke engine is easier and that's what makes it better to go to Motogp with.

I don't disagree that having a 4 stroke engine is a step in the right direction but a very simple control ECU would seem an even bigger mistake as far as training riders is than a spec engine was. No multiple maps, no engine brake maps, no GPS mapping, etc. What we currently hear from the Burgess' of the world is that most bike tuning happens though a computer. With a simple spec ECU riders coming through Moto2 to Motogp will have less experience with electronics and sophisticated motorcycle setup than riders from WSB.

Motogp bikes are very complex creatures. As were 250s. Moto2 bikes are simpler than most bikes that fast club racers have. If there are no ECU options for multiple maps, engine braking control, etc, and only a manual Suter clutch that seems to be causing everyone chatter problems how will you be able to understand a Motogp bikes' range of adjustability? Especially with the limited testing regime. How will you be able to maximize corner speed if engine braking induced chatter is your primary corner speed limitation? The issue is these moto2 bikes really need a couple of years of development and increased complexity before they are truly ready for prime time rider development tasks.

I can't imagine anyone currently running in the class would knock it, after all, they are competing in the 2nd level world championship and likely would not have been without the current rule structure.