Jack lifts the lid on his feelings after his amazing Assen win.
So, where do I start? It’s about 90 minutes after I’ve won my first MotoGP race, my voice is already shot and I’m wet from champagne and rain. It’s been manic – the podium, interviews, being with the team … my head is still spinning. But it’s starting to sink in, bit by bit. Me, a MotoGP race winner. It still sounds and feels a little bit unreal to be honest.
My mind is a bit scattered, and I keep remembering certain things in random orders. When I took the lead from Marc (Marquez) I knew there were eight laps to go, and I can’t tell you how long they took. I swear it seemed like there were five laps to go for about five laps … The track was actually drying pretty quickly late in the race and that took some of the tension away, but at the same time I was concentrating even harder, not wanting to even think about relaxing, trying to keep calm. The last lap went for an eternity, but coming out of that famous final chicane at Assen, seeing all the fans standing up, realising that I had a clear run to the line … like I said, it’s all a bit unreal at the moment.
About 45 minutes before that, when the first race was stopped because of the weather, I was actually pretty happy. I was eighth and would have liked to have been further up, but it was absolutely the right call to stop it. The visibility was really bad and the standing water was crazy in some parts, and I wouldn’t have been unhappy if the race had been red-flagged even earlier than it was. When it stopped and there was a chance we wouldn’t get going again, I was really happy with eighth – 10th in the last race was the best I’d done in MotoGP before, and to improve on that in such tricky conditions and considering how far back I’d started after qualifying didn’t go well for me, I was pretty content with that. Truth be told, I didn’t really want a re-start. It worked out pretty well, didn’t it?
I got a great start in the second race and I was up to fourth in the first few corners, and that was when I started to think that maybe I could challenge for a podium if a lot of things went right for me. When ‘Dovi’ (Andrea Dovizioso) went down, I thought ‘wow, third would be alright’, and then Vale (Valentino Rossi) went down. That was when I thought ‘hang on, I can actually win this’. I got the sense Marc had buttoned off a bit once Valentino went down and that’s completely understandable, he has a championship to try and win and one of his main rivals was out. He’s not worried about me, and he shouldn’t have been. For me, I’m not winning the championship this year and had pretty much nothing to lose, so I figured he wouldn’t fight too hard if I tried to make a pass. I got by at the chicane and then it was all about managing the gap, and those last five laps that seemed to take about five years. I got into a nice groove and to be honest, there weren’t too many moments – I just tried to be as smooth as possible, not try to go for too much and keep my head, which is something I’m probably not all that known for! It was tense, but I actually felt quite calm out there. It wasn’t the way I imagined I might win my first MotoGP race.
The lap back to the pits after I crossed the line was something I’ll never forget. There was this massive release of tension, and I had all these things racing through my head – thinking of my family and how we came over to Europe six years ago dreaming of this day, how Honda has stuck by me, how supportive the Marc VDS team has been, how this season has been hard with battling injury for a lot of the time … my mind was all over the place. And I was screaming. A lot. You probably noticed that by the time I went to do my first interview afterwards, I didn’t have a lot of my voice left. And I knew that I was going to cry. The Australian national anthem gets me every time. It was so nice to hear it again.
What’s funny about my first win coming at Assen is that the circuit has been a terrible one for me in the last few years. Two years ago I was leading in Moto3 in the wet and crashed on the second lap, and last year I didn’t make the end of the first lap and crashed, it was one of the worst moments of my rookie year. So it’s a pretty huge turnaround for me. I’ve actually always liked to ride this place, and I like it a hell of a lot more now.
We’ve got three weeks between now and the next round in Germany, which is a decent slab of time to have a good celebration, I reckon. I drove my new van that I bought a few weeks ago from Andorra to Assen, so maybe I’ll need to find someone to drive it back. Not a problem I expected to be having, to be honest. But I’ll take it.
Thanks heaps for all of the support and messages from back home, and I’ll catch you next time.
This story originally appeared on redbull.com.au
Pics courtesy of Marc VDS