John McPhee was in the British Superbike paddock on Monday, which meant that I had to go and speak to him. The Scotsman says he’s positive but we also discussed other topics. The British Talent Cup, Honda and tyres are all spoken about in this exclusive interview.
You’ve had a great start to the year, how are you feeling?
It’s been great to have such a good opportunity this year with a good bike and a good team around me, with a couple of podiums to start of the year in the perfect way too. In Texas we had a difficult weekend but we were still there in the podium challenge and in the points. We got some really important points on the table and now we are arriving back in Europe, we’re feeling really positive.
How does this Honda compare to the previous Honda you rode?
There’s a big difference because in 2015, we actually had the 2014 bike so there’s three years development on the engine and the chassis. Honda have made a massive improvement over the last few years, obviously I haven’t done a back to back comparison with last year’s bike but they (Honda) have made a big step forward now and the bike is working really good thanks to a really good job by Honda. Everything just feels like home for me.
How does the Honda compare to the Peugeot?
Chassis wise the Mahindra was actually really strong – it was actually one of the strongest bikes I’ve ever ridden for chassis set-up. The downfall of the Mahindra was the engine power, it didn’t quite have the power there, especially with acceleration. With Honda, they’ve got the whole package and they can compete with the Mahindra and they’ve got more power there as well.
How do you feel the Moto3 tyres have developed since you’ve been in the class?
The main compound is the mediums and they’ve remained pretty standard throughout the last few years, they’ve not changed much. What they have changed is the soft tyre and it’s not quite as soft and the hard tyre is not quite as hard so they’ve brought all the tyre compounds a lot closer which means people tend to use the soft or the hard tyre more throughout races than what they would’ve done a few years ago. Actual development of the tyre is pretty standard.
Is tyre wear an issue for Moto3?
As the lap times are getting closer and the bikes are getting closer, it is becoming more of a factor. People are starting to look into that a lot more. In Argentina, when I qualified on pole we had the hard rear tyre in rather than the medium because it provides a little bit more stability. It has made a difference a couple of times now and that’s good because it gives us another area to look at and to try and improve.
Brno last year and you won, then come October you was stranded in Australia – how are your injuries?
I think even before Brno we had a bike that was working but we just didn’t have the opportunity to show it. We lacked a bit of horsepower at some of the track we went to and it was difficult to hide that, however at the more flowing tracks – like Phillip Island – we was able to carry corner speed. After the accident, it took a very long time to recover. I wouldn’t say I’m back up at 100% yet, I’m more like 95% and there or there abouts. There’s no pain or anything which is good so hopefully we can get quicker.
Which track do you feel will be your strongest?
I think Phillip Island is going to be one I’m always going to be strong at, it’s more about the rider rather than the actual bike which I quite like.
If you was to choose one rider to go up against at Valencia for the title, who would it be?
Obviously it’s difficult to say, Joan Mir is riding well and leading the championship at the minute but it is a long year. I have a bit more experience than him but we will need to wait and see and it will come down to the last few races for sure. At the minute it’s a bit hard to put one name down.
Where do you see the British Talent Cup in the future? Can it be successful?
I think that the whole intention of this is to bring more British riders along because I think the talent is there but it’s just not being shown and there’s a couple of reasons for that. One of them is funding, the other being accessibility to tracks and teams, down to the lack of funding in the UK. The whole idea of the British Talent Cup is to fund young riders and give them the opportunity of getting the track time, the bike time and the correct people on bikes around them. I think that it will be similar to the Asia Talent Cup. If there is any talent there – which we believe there is – to bring it through and give them the opportunity. You see families re-mortgaging there house to try and fund it. We know there is talent there and this is the opportunity to try and make it shine through.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko