Before the season-opening Grand Prix in Qatar, Red Bull caught up with Ajo rider Danny Kent to talk about his second season at the... Interview Danny Kent: “We just want to go with a clear mind”

Before the season-opening Grand Prix in Qatar, Red Bull caught up with Ajo rider Danny Kent to talk about his second season at the top level of motorcycle racing.

The 18-year-old recently passed his motorcycle Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), so where better to start with a lad who is used to tearing round race tracks at frightening speeds than asking what it feels like to ‘bib up’ and meander rounds cones…

So then Danny, you passed!
Yeah, I don’t think you can actually fail the CBT, it’s more of a lesson. Everything went well, I passed and I’ve got my certificate.

You’ve been racing bikes for a very long time, but how does it feel to have to take the CBT?
It is quite weird. Riding on the road is completely different. The instructor was telling me to do different things with the clutch to what I’d normally do out on a track, so it took a while to get used to because I’ve been racing for 11 years.KTM UK have sorted me out with the 125 Duke, so now I’ve passed I can get out on the road on that.

Turning our attentions to 2012, what’s your view on how pre-season progressed?
It’s gone really well. I went into Valencia, the first test on the Moto3 and I didn’t know what to expect because it was completely new for everyone. As soon as I got on the bike I loved it, so that was a real confidence boost. Now we’ve just come back from the last official test in Jerez and we were second fastest. So going to Qatar I feel really confident.

Looking back to last season, you had an impressive rookie year. How did it live up to your expectations?
I thought last year went okay, I didn’t think it went perfectly. I think it could have gone better if we had the top-spec bike. But there’s nothing we could do, last year is last year, and we’re just thinking about this year now.

What are your targets for this year?
Looking at how testing has gone, we’ve been in the top three at pretty much every test – so the aim is to be on the podium. But testing and racing are completely different moods, so really we just want to go with a clear mind.

Who do you view as your main rivals this year?
I think one of my main rivals will be my team-mate Sandro Cortese. I think that’s a good thing because it is always good to have a fast team-mate because we can compare data, help each other out and stuff. Also I think another big rival will be Maverick Viñales. We’ve only been testing on two different tracks so we still have to go to different circuits, and some bikes will suit different tracks better.

How will you approach the first race of the season? It’s a strange one being at night and under floodlights…
I’m just going to go there not really thinking about how testing has gone. I’m just going to go there not knowing what to expect again, as we did at the Jerez test where we came away fastest.

You’re staying with the Ajo team this year, a World Championship-winning set-up…
It’s so good to be part of Ajo Motorsport, I get along really well with the team and I feel rally comfortable around them. Knowing the experience they’ve got, of winning two titles, it’s good to have them behind us.

What’s been the toughest aspect of going from a two-stroke 125cc to a four-stroke 250cc?
It’s a totally different style of riding, really, because on the 125cc two-stroke going into the corner you haven’t got the engine stopping you, you only have the brakes to stop you, so you get on the power a lot later. With the Moto3, with the engine braking, you can brake just as late – if not a little bit later than the 125cc – and you can get on the power a lot earlier because you’ve got the engine braking which is helping you turn in the corner. I feel really comfortable with the bike.

Interview: Joseph Caron Dawe
Source: Red Bull

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