Interview: Scott Redding On Aiming For The Championship, Not Going To MotoGP, And Weight Rules

One of the more intriguing things about spending a few years in a racing paddock is watching people grow and mature. Young riders come in to the Grand Prix paddock as exuberant 15 and 16-year-olds, certainly with the anachronistic maturity of all dedicated sportsmen and women, but still clearly young teenagers, that explosive mixture of energy, hormones and sheer joy driving them into paroxysms of hyperactivity. A few years later, those young boys (and now girls as well) turn into young men, and a fuller, more mature personality emerges.

Such is the case with Scott Redding. Three years ago, when he first moved to Moto2, he was still a teenager with an impish grin on his face, looking like he was either planning trouble, or just returning from it. At the launch of the Marc VDS Racing program last night, at the Belgian team's workshop a stone's throw from Charleroi airport, a different Scott Redding was on display, calmer, more mature, more serious but without having lost his sense of fun. More focused, too.

Redding knows that this year, he is playing for keeps. The goal is to either win the championship, or go down trying. This is his best chance, perhaps, with the introduction of a combined rider/bike minimum weight removing some of the advantage of the lighter riders, though the new limit of 215kg for both rider and bike still favors riders closer to 60 kg than to 70kg. His preparation has changed, spending the winter in Spain, riding, rather than in the dull English winter, where MX tracks are open on Saturdays and Sundays only, for a couple of hours each day.

Scott Redding is ready to become Moto2 champion. A conversation with the young Englishman: This is your fourth season?

Scott Redding: It is my fourth season isn't it? I was a bit worried that I'd done one year more!

MM: It's championship time isn't it?

SR: Yes, definitely, for me that's the target this year, to actually really fight for the championship. Last year we said we would go top five every race, and the majority of the time we reached that. Whereas now, we decided, I decided in myself that I really need to go for a championship before moving up to MotoGP.

MM: That was one reason to decide to stay for another year in Moto2?

SR: Yeah. The weight limit also kind of made me stay and it gives me a bit more of a chance, it makes it a little bit more fair. Because last year, if I was maybe 8, 9kg lighter, you know, the difference it would make would make me a regular podium finisher. The races I seemed to lose by a little bit here, a little bit there. I've always been fourth; if it was a little bit less, I could have maybe been higher up in the championship.

MM: I made a chart of top speeds for the race at Motegi, because Motegi was awful because of the back straight.

SR: Yeah, it was terrible.

MM: You were always 7, 8 kmh slower. Was there anything you could do about that?

SR: The only thing I could try and do about it was to try to pass the lighter rider and just try to block them, but that corner, straight out of the second gear, low RPM, I just didn't really have a chance. I'd get halfway along the straight and they'd already be coming alongside me so they'd pass me back, but then we'd get to the fast bit and I can't pull away, because they're in front of me. It was the same at Misano, I was with Kallio and Rabat, and that was the worst race I had to do, because I was passing them all round the circuit, but every straight we'd come on to the back straight with the fast right, always going into there they were passing me, but there was nothing really I could do about it, it was just something out of my control.

MM: How much difference do you think the weight is going to make?

SR: To my opponents like Luthi and Espargaro and Simon, not a big difference, but to people like Mika, Rabat and the real smaller riders? Maybe they won't be there at the places like Motegi, Misano, the stop-and-start circuits. So maybe I won't have to worry so much about them coming through at the end of the season at certain tracks.

MM: You say this year is the championship, how do you change your approach ?

SR: Just being more relaxed, and enjoying it still. Not to be too focused on it. If you enjoy it, you're also faster, and for me, being in Spain all the winter, having fun, training with the Supermoto, motocross, I feel really happy, like no stress or anything. And it just makes riding a bike just like an everyday thing, instead of going to race, it's like going to more ride the bike but just do the best I can on it.

MM: So in fact, to focus on the championship, you focus on the championship by focusing on it even less, almost it's almost like a paradox.

SR: Yeah, because the more I seem to think about it, the more you get into too much detail, but at the end of the day, you've got a pretty good set up anyway, and in the end you just have to ride the best you can on the day, it comes down to nothing else.

MM: So far, Pol Espargaro has looked pretty impressive. What can you do about him?

SR: Yes he's fast, but it's always just one lap. He is fast, but always with the new tire, always the first three laps he is fast. And we need to try and close the gap a bit, but also, he's never trying anything, he's got his set up and he just goes chasing lap time, lap time, lap time, whereas we're trying to find a good set for all season round, which we're pretty close to, and just to try and be ready for the season, instead of just at the test. I was fast just in the test last year all the time, and pretty fast the year before, but when it came to the season, it was a different story. So you know, I just want to be ready for the season, not just the tests, which is the big thing I've changed.

MM: Last year, the Kalex was clearly a fantastic package, it seemed to be the best bike, except in the wet. All of a sudden, in the wet, it didn't work...

SR: For me, in the rain, if it's properly wet-wet and the track grip is not bad, the Kalex is really good, but if there's not so much track grip, like Malaysia, Valencia in the mixed conditions, it really doesn't work. This is why the mixed conditions at Jerez were good for me to get confidence in the rain. I was fast in the rain as well, and that was just a confidence thing. But for the mixed conditions we had some things to try, but then you have to have the right conditions to try them.

MM: Does the bike produce too much grip?

SR: I think it's just like you say, the rear grip's really good on the Kalex, and it's just destroying the tire, and in the beginning it's alright, but then you start losing the rear on corner entry, and stuff like that, which was the problem with me. But on the other hand, Mika could ride the mixed conditions really well, so it was a bit of a Catch-22. Like, if he can ride it, I can't, what's sort of going on? Is it me, is it not? But then Espargaro was struggling. It just comes down to, I don't know, maybe too much weight transfer from my body size. Mika also runs a set up which is quite a lot different to many other riders because he is one of the smallest riders, so maybe it helps that he's not getting the weight transfer as much. The problem is in this game it's all questions, you know? To find the answer, you have to keep trying and failing and learning.

MM: How disappointed were you not to move up to MotoGP?

SR: I was a bit pissed in the beginning, but then I thought, like, I'm not there, but it's not a big deal. At that time, I was 19 years of age, I'm now 20, and if I go there, I'll be there for a long time. Better to maybe do a year here. And I want to get a championship, you know, I've been there or thereabouts, but I want to be the guy on top. Then move up, I don't think I'd deserve it unless I'm second or third, but been challenging all season, Then you deserve it. You don't really deserve it unless you're fighting from the class below. So, I also put that into consideration, and it also made me think to stay. And another reason was the bikes, you know, not knowing what bike I would get. I wasn't really willing to go with the Ducati that strongly, so, you know I think we did the right thing in the big picture.

MM: When do you start thinking about next year?

SR: It all starts from through the winter, you're always thinking about the following year, because it all starts from the fact that every time you go on the bike, they're all looking at you. But the main thing is the results. They don't care what else you do, if you can't do the results, they have no reason to want you. So it comes down to being there, and there when it counts, which is in the race and in the championship.

MM: We're going to Austin this year, new track, what are you like with tracks you've never seen before?

SR: I kind of thrive off it. I like a new challenge, like new circuits for me where I've definitely got a really good chance of winning. Every time we go to a new track I just seem to adapt really well, because I'm more motivated because I want to be the fastest guy at the new track. It's just something different, and you've never rode it before, you've got different track conditions, corners, it just gives a big atmosphere to the whole weekend which I really like. You know, I looked at the track on the net, it looks pretty awesome, but we have to see how it is when we get there, see how the tires are working, the bike set up...

MM: Marc Marquez has gone up to MotoGP. You raced with him last year. Two questions: first of all, what do you expect him to do this year, and the second question, when you watch him on a MotoGP bike, are you watching him with half an eye measuring yourself against that?

SR: To start with how I feel how he's done, I feel that's how the Moto2 world champion should go into MotoGP. They should be going straight away, pushing it, it's still a bike with two wheels, you know? And I think he's doing a really good job, and I think that's how I would like to go. He is doing a really impressive job at the moment, but in the race, we'll have to see how the pressure goes. I think he might find it a bit harder. But you know, he is fast, and that's the whole point of being in MotoGP.

MM: So he's not faster than you expected, he's what you expect a champion to achieve?

SR: Yes, a lot of people were saying about Bradl last year. He did do a good job, but should have been better in my eyes. It was a good job that he'd done, but the guys who were behind him were guys on Ducatis, stuff like this. Marquez is mixing with the big guys. You know, we all cook with water, so he should be there like he is.

MM: Seeing what he's done, and know how close you were too him, you think you can be able to match that, or at least get close to it?

SR: It's just there's so much a mix of things, with the bike and stuff. He's got one of the best bikes, so he has a little bit easier. But you know, if you give me the same bike or a good competitive bike like that, I'd want to be doing the same. You should be like top 5, that's what I would like to do. Which is what he's doing, he's even top 3, you know mixing it with the guys. That would be the sort of performance I'd be wanting to put in. You can't do that with a Ducati, in my eyes, you just wouldn't be able to do it, so you know, it's to do with the bike, the rider, and how it sort of mixes, and he's got on that bike and he's gelled with it straight away.

MM: Finally, a prediction, where you going to end at the end of the year?

SR: For the championship? Hmm. I think it's going to be close, to be honest. But like I said, obviously I want to go for the championship, but that's quite a hard call to make now, because anything can happen, especially when it's so early. I think there will be two people fighting, but yeah, I think it'll be top 2, top 3, and I just want to be there every race, on the podium and fighting for the victories.

MM: There's going to be you and Espargaro, who else do you see that can be there? Obviously Thomas Luthi has a problem with his elbow, but who else?

SR: When Luthi comes back, he'll be strong. Simon seems not bad at the moment, he's also floating around, same as Terol. But again, with the tests it's hard to sort of say, because some guys are with Supersport engines. So do you want to take the big risk in testing, and not make the first race because you crashed then OK. But in my eyes, I don't want to do that this year, I want to be the guy that's maybe on the top step in the first race. That means more to me than being on top in testing. It's just all a little mixture of all the little things that you need to make to be at the top.

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so good are his viewpoints/feelings and answers that i am now more of a fan of him than i was before reading it. very apt questions too.

Very balanced and intelligent. both sides, questionner (I guess David) and Scott!
I am looking forward this year Moto2 !

It was the same at Misano, I was with Kallio and Rabat, and that was the worst race I had to do, because I was passing them all round the circuit, but every straight we'd come on to the back straight with the fast right, always going into there they were passing me, but there was nothing really I could do about it, it was just something out of my control.

.. and this is how it actually was. I watched the 2 part Misano race and didn't recognize how Redding described the race. I reviewed MotoGP's analysis and lap chart to verify what actually happened.
During the 14 lap 2nd part of the race, after 3rd lap Redding never passed Rabat or Kallio "all round the circuit", he was 0.5 to 2.3 seconds behind, doing best sector times that were slower than Kallio's, not just on the 3rd sector which mainly consists of the back straight, but at all sectors. He may have been close to Rabat during some laps but he lost only 2 or 3 tenths at the 3rd sector plus he was slower at the 4th sector. That 6 kph average top speed deficit in Misano does not add to more than average 2 or 3 tenths at that back straight sector. His best 3rd sector time was 0.051 down on Kallio's best and 0.149 down on Rabat's best.

This is why Niki Lauda said he hated the introduction of TV coverage of F1 when he was a driver - he couldn't lie about what happened on the track anymore, because anyone could review what had actually occurred!

Data doesn't lie.

I think Scott is talented enough that he doesn't need people making excuses for his results and changing the rules to move him forward. Hope his season goes well.

Given that the minimum combined rider/bike weight is 215kg, how much a rider like Redding on a Kalex is expected to weight? 218-222kg would be my guess, but does anybody know more specific?

How many times did Redding use the weight "reason" in just this one interview? Five? Six?

Simoncelli was considered "too big" for the 800CC bike, yet he still managed to win races in the 250CC class and a title.

I'm not convinced that weight is the be all end all for a rider winning or losing. Too much history tells us otherwise.

I do wish him the best of luck though, as more riders at the front equals better racing.

Simoncelli rode 250GP's not moto2. Moto2 has a control engine but in 250 GP's Simoncelli had one of the best engines.

Simoncelli was not the only one with a powerful engine either. I know Simo only rode in the 250 class, his size still did not prevent him from winning, as Redding is so quick to point out for the reasons of his (lack of) success.

Redding has backed himself in a corner with his comments. He stated he was pissed he was not in GP (which he clarified he is over it), and now with the rules bent to his favor regarding the weight, if he doesn't produce he is going to look like an ass. In short, he is in a state of put up or shut up, which as a racer is not a good place to be in.

Most racers have to put up or shut up, I think they're used to being in that state. I'm sure Scott has the ability to pull his performances up to his comments, and that we are yet to see the best from this talented young rider. Scott handed MM his arse on a couple occaisons in Moto2 and that's no mean feat - size or otherwise.

I had to google the phrase 'we all cook with water' I haven't heard that before down here in Oz-traylya... Course some cook with Virgin Repsol cooking oil ;)

Scott has the very desirable trait of being a genuine and likeable, interesting character, plus he has world-class ability... I hope he lives up to his own expectations of himself, I do think that he will this year.

I wish Redding well this year, as I do all the riders, and I am not a "fan" of any, I just like the racing.
That said, to me this comes across badly, like he's making excuses and diminishing the efforts of his competitors.
This comment re Espargaro just makes no sense "Yes he's fast, but it's always just one lap. He is fast, but always with the new tire, always the first three laps he is fast."
Scott, he finished the championship 107 points the better of you. Show some class, let your results do the talking.

I love to watch Redding ride, his style is very unique and he is obviously very talented. But cut to the chase....his performance at Silverstone was the ONLY recent time I can recall him demonstrating the true grit and pace it takes to battle with the best.

It's not like he was 4th every race just a few seconds back, he simply didn't "bring it" at every race and his gap to the front is not explained by a few extra kilos like he has been implying for a couple years now. He has been miles back, and then he blames it on bike setup.

I haven't done any analysis or really watched him close enough to say for sure, but to me you are either fast enough or not. He comes off as a whinging little bitch who simply isn't fast enough, particularly with his comments about the other riders like Bradl who has been fantastic.

Proof is in the pudding. Now is his opportunity to put up or shut up. At least he acknowledges that so I expect to see fireworks out of him this year. Actually, more than likely I expect to see him off the podium more often than not, but I would love for him to prove me wrong...

Gives us something more to watch in these races! :)

I want to root for him, because he is taller and heavier than most, (being a tall rider myself makes me a little biased to taller riders). But I do not believe that his results are all down to him being heavier. I agree with Apex stating bringing Simoncelli in. He was not a LIGHT rider or SMALL rider by any means. He was still able to get at minimum some wins, and at the maximum a Championship without the help of weights being changed just to make him more competitive.

Those facts alone make me doubt Redding. His words though brave, I need to see backed up by at least 2 wins this season. If that does not happen I think he me just fall off into the sea of other riders that talk of winning and championship but just do not have what it takes to do it. I wish him luck. Because I want another big aggressive rider up front battling for wins. Just have to wait and see.

Simoncelli was racing a factory-spec Gilera (Aprilia) RSA when he got those wins. The difference between 250s and Moto2 is that Moto2 is horsepower limited, 250s weren't so the bike could be tuned to produce more power, and negate some of the disadvantage Simoncelli had. It's not a good comparison.

That would be true in comparing the Gilera/Aprilia to other manufacturers, but wouldn't it be safe to assume that all of the factory Gilera/Aprilia teams were trying to tune their engines to max power, regardless of the size of the rider? How many factory-spec RSAs were on the grid when Simo was kicking butt, and wouldn't it be safe to assume that all of them were putting out about the same power - and Marco was still beating them?

In other words, if a Moto2 engine could be tuned for more horsepower, and Redding's team managed to make more ponies than the other guys, wouldn't Scott still be in the same boat if he had a smaller teammate?

I'm a big SR fan and hope he runs at the front in moto2 this year, and that he gets a chance in motogp on a competitive bike, maybe an improved ducati. But I also would love to see him on a superbike. I think that would really suit his riding style.

Wouldn't it be cool if a result of dorna having wsbk was guest rides across wsbk and gp? I bet the factories could find a few ducati pans, Honda blades etc to make it happen. guest rides of people up from their own formula, Redding vinales vinales in moto2 etc would add interest.

David, I respectfully disagree.

Simoncelli was not a lone factory rider on the grid. His team was not the only one there that could produce HP. Yes he had a good/great bike beneath him, but he won on merit, talent and the fortitude to beat the crap out of his opponent on the track.

@ pooch,

While I agree that most racers are in a "put up or shut up" position, most of them do not publicly make statements that they do not win because of (insert reason here). When Redding complained about the weight, and now the rules have been changed to accomodate those complaints, he has no excuse for not producing. Making those statements public puts him in a more cornered position. If he fails (I'm open to what is failing and succeeding here), he has no excuse.

I have nothing against Redding, I do wish him the best of luck and I do hope he is at the pointy end as with all the riders on the grid.

You are correct, Simoncelli was not the lone factory rider on the grid. There were basically 6 riders with factory-spec equipment: Simoncelli, Bautista, Kallio (KTM), Debon, Locatelli, and Faubel (though Pasini's bike was also an RSA, if I remember correctly). So Simoncelli had to compete directly against those riders. The other bikes had significantly less horsepower than those factory-spec machines.

That is not to belittle Simoncelli's achievement. But because he had more basic horsepower than the majority of other bikes, that canceled out a lot of the disadvantage he had in terms of weight. The difference was very clear once he got given a factory RSA in 2008 when you compare it to his results a year earlier. It did not help him win, but it did mean he didn't have to struggle through the pack to start fighting at the front. That made a big difference.

Redding, and the other heavier riders in Moto2, have not been able to do the same. They have not been able to add horsepower to overcome their weight disadvantage, as the 250cc riders could. That means they have a lot more mid-pack competition to battle through before getting to the front.

Now, was the weight disadvantage that big for Redding? He says so, and if you look at the top speeds in Motegi, it clearly was. If he is right, then he must be at the front this season. If he is still mostly 4th and 5th, then we will know that weight is not an issue.

Come on now David, you and I both know there is more to top speed than HP :)

Considering that the main protagonist is now in the big boy class, he should finish higher the 4th/5th.

I'm not saying weight in the lower classes does not play a part however, I do not think it is as big as Redding and others claim it to be. I may very well be wrong and I can accept it if I am, but at this point I don't see any real proof to show me otherwise.

I think we agree on more than you might suspect. My only point is that there is a huge difference between the old 250cc class and the Moto2 class. Moto2 is horsepower-limited, which removes one avenue for compensating for rider weight. 250s were capacity-limited, which meant that teams could sacrifice pickup and mid-range for a bit more on top. They were much more able to modify the torque curve of the bikes than the Moto2 teams can.

Of course, there are limits to what you can do, and there is no substitute for talent. Top speed is more about getting off the corner and acceleration than pure horsepower. But with identical engines - and also fixed-ratio gearboxes - there is no room for maneuver for heavier riders. It's not the difference between 20th and 1st, but it may be the difference between, say, 5th and 3rd.

But, as I think we have both said, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We shall see what difference the weight makes once the season starts.

but Ducati whinge about 3kg on a bike with a lot more power (and base weight)and Checa semed disadvantaged by the weight penalty he had to carry. It was the last year of the 1199, and other teams had moved on, but.....
Teams spend thousands on Ti and carbon to lose weight, so saying it doesn't count seems a little perverse.

People keep using the control engine to justify the weight rule. So far as I'm aware, engines weren't systematically more powerful for bigger riders...

I'm not a big fan off Redding and I never tested what I will say with a motorcycle.....
But anyone who tested a car, with same tires and the same setup, with race fuel compared with fuel for 3 laps knows that he was loosing time in every corner exit and to all straights long or short.
So (going back to motorcycles) you try to gain some of this "lost" time in every braking .......
and then mistakes starts coming ......
So if Scott will start not to try to hard to "gain back" the "lost time" in the end of every race he will be closer to the podium.
As he said "Kalio was faster because of less weight transfer" in certain conditions.
My opinion is (and I'm not an expert) that Mika was faster because he was trying less harder. He just was more relaxed on the motorcycle.