Jack writes from Aragon about setting his sights on a race closer to his heart.
Yes, another weekend where I didn’t ride, but at least we knew that going in, so I didn’t get my hopes up and then get disappointed this time. I went to Aragon anyway because there’s always something you can learn, and it’s good to be around the team. Nicky Hayden was on my bike for the weekend and Nicky’s a good guy, and it was still important to be in all the debriefs and help where I could. I got out and watched from some different corners, helped out with some TV commentary, and managed to get a little bit healthier each day, which isn’t something I’ve said too many times at race tracks this year.
Really, it’s all about Australia and Phillip Island now. Not riding between Misano and Japan in a few weeks means I’ll have almost a month off the bike, and by the time I get back on at Motegi, the hand should be right and I should be ready to go. Motegi is going to be a test of course because of the big braking zones there, it’s a really stop-start track. But if I can get through that OK, then it’s the Island the week after, and that’s the one I really want to do.
It’s been a frustrating second half of the season, but the support I’ve had from home has been huge this year, and I want to repay some of that by being out there in my home GP. Someone told me that the ticket sales are quite a bit up on last year which probably has to do with a few things – last year’s race was one of the best MotoGP has ever had with Marc (Marquez), Valentino (Rossi), Jorge (Lorenzo) and (Andrea) Iannone all fighting up the front, and this year has been pretty amazing with all the different winners we’ve had. If me winning at Assen has helped that along as well, then that’s great. The fans always get behind the Aussies there no matter how they’re doing, so I can’t imagine what it’ll be like this time. They were cheering me in Moto3 in 2012 when I stuffed up the start and finished nowhere nearly as much as they did last year when I had my first MotoGP ride there. The Island and our bike should go well together, so I’m optimistic we can do a good performance there.
In the past I would have definitely tried to ride the last few races being injured, it’s something you just do and you especially do when you’re younger and trying to be noticed. We’re motorcycle racers and nobody is 100 per cent healthy, we’ve all got something we’re having to deal with. I took the smart option (I know, I must be maturing or something) and figured that if I’m not fighting for the championship (which I’m clearly not), then what am I doing out there? If I’m way less than fit, I don’t help the team, don’t help me, and I don’t want to be a danger to the other riders.
I would have been worried in the past that being off the bike might have seen me hang my head a bit or maybe get a bit too frustrated, but I reckon the extra fitness I’ve managed to get this year has helped me a lot. I’ve been completely bitten by the cycling bug and can’t get enough of it. I now understand why having a good bike makes such a difference – you get what you pay for and all of that. I’m nowhere near as good as I want to be on the bike but I enjoy the challenge, the fitness side of it and riding with mates who can push you along if you’re knackered or you can get competitive with. Sometimes you’re suffering when you’re out there and it hurts, but afterwards, it’s really mentally satisfying. And then you can eat! Getting fitter is addictive and you want more and more. You feel like you have more energy all the time (not that I struggled with that!) and it’s a massive benefit, I’m learning that all the time. I’ve made a big leap on that front this year. I’m blaming Cal (Crutchlow) for that. He’s got me hooked, for sure.
There’s not a lot planned for the next few weeks, the to-do list is pretty short. Keep the fitness up, stay healthy, don’t break stuff. Lay low and get ready for the three flyaways at some circuits I really like – Malaysia is the week after Australia and I did some of my first MotoGP laps there a couple of years back, so it’ll be good to be back there. But the Island is the focus and that’s what I’m hanging out for, being back home. I’ll see a fair few of you down there, by the sounds …
This story originally appeared on redbull.com.au
Photos courtesy of Marc VDS and Mirco Lazzari