John McPhee has just completed the first two official test sessions with his new KTM and his new team, CIP Green Power. So what’s the... Pre-season testing interview with John McPhee

John McPhee has just completed the first two official test sessions with his new KTM and his new team, CIP Green Power.
So what’s the overall takeout from the sessions and how are you settling in with the new team?

I’m feeling quite happy with the new bike, it feels good and I’m sure as we get to understand how to get the most from it we’ll be pushing for the front. We’re working really well with all the guys from the KTM factory and WP suspension who are giving us some great support.
The first test at Valencia was a little disappointing as we didn’t get the chance for many quality laps. These bikes and the tyres feel totally different when the track’s cold. Unless you’re riding the bike in near race conditions, you don’t get the feel and the feedback you need to set it up on the limit.

The testing was a bit disrupted by weather, wasn’t it… Did that kind of interruption have a major effect on what you were able , or wanting, to achieve?

The weather was wet and it was very cold, so it was a bit pointless to go out at all on the first day. It had been raining heavily the day before and track temperatures were well down. On the second day it took a long time to warm up as it was still cloudy with little sun, so once again we decided to miss out the first session of the day. Over the rest of the two days I managed just 35 laps. We focused on getting the basic settings of the bike sorted. It’s the first time any of us have worked with the KTM so gave us a good opportunity to get to know it better.

And after that, the second test – how was that?

Yeah, that was a few days later – we had our second official test at Jerez, three days again. It was dry and warmer so we could get some quality laps in and start to really get to know the bike. From Day 1 to Day 3 we improved the feeling with the bike a lot.

What were the main things you as the rider were concentrating on getting from the tests?

My main focus was to understand how the new KTM works compared to the Honda I was riding last year. I was very strong on used tyres, which is great as that’s what counts in the race. I was also pleased that changing bikes I was still able to get up to a fast pace right away.
Did you get all the running and feedback you were wanting?
Over the three days I did 128 laps, which has given us a lot of data to analyse during the new few weeks. Optimising my one lap pace on new tyres is something I need to work on in the next test but for now I am happy with the progress made.

So, what’s next up before the actual season begins?

We can look forward to another 3 days testing here in Jerez, in the beginning of March when hopefully the weather will be warmer. This gives us the chance to complete our goal and be fully ready for the first race in Qatar! In the meantime it’s back to training to stay 100% fit!