Jack writes about a weekend of mixed emotions in Barcelona.
I know the stats say that I’ve just had the best MotoGP result of my career by coming 10th at Catalunya on Sunday, and I’m definitely happy with that. But it’s just been an awful weekend, to be honest. Losing Luis Salom after his accident on Friday – sometimes there are just no words. The feeling in the paddock, the way I felt, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my world championship career. It’s hard to know how to feel, how to even describe it to yourself, so explaining it to someone else is really difficult. But for everyone in the sport, it’s been really, really hard.
The whole weekend felt just, well, weird. You can be philosophical about it and say that these things happen, and that’s right to some extent, and you do need to keep going. But it doesn’t take away from the fact we lost a friend and a competitor. What we have to do now is make sure Luis’ death wasn’t in vain, that we learn from the accident he had and try to do everything we can to make sure a similar accident in the future doesn’t have the same consequences. If the sport can learn anything from what has happened and stop it from happening again, that’s the one positive we can take out of it.
When I moved to the Red Bull Ajo KTM Moto3 team in 2014, I’d basically taken Luis’ seat, as he’d moved on to Moto2. I had his old crew, things like that. I got to know him quite well, and even though he’d moved up, he was always there if I needed to ask him about anything in the team, anything at all really. He didn’t need to do that because he had his own championship to do, but it was never a problem for him and he helped me a lot. He recommended me to Aki (Ajo) to take his seat when he was leaving, so we had a good relationship. Luis was just a good guy. The whole thing is just so sad, you can’t imagine how his family must be feeling.
The part of the track where he had his accident isn’t a spot where a lot of accidents have happened in the past, but when we looked at it afterwards, it could have so easily happened before. We did everything to avoid that with the changes to the circuit afterwards, because it could have happened again. Changing the circuit to use the chicane that Formula One uses in Barcelona instead of the usual corners was 100 per cent the right thing to do.
There’s a Safety Commission meeting at all of the races where all of the riders are invited. Every Friday afternoon, always at the same time. Everyone knows when it is. Not all of us go though – I go every week, but in Barcelona only 10 of the 21 MotoGP riders came. Going to it is optional, but it’s there for us to use and be a part of, and for me, I think it’s something important. If you want input on things, it’s pretty simple – you find the time to go. Everyone’s opinion can be heard, but only if you show up. You don’t want to force people to go and make it compulsory, but if people want to be heard, that’s the forum to do it. You can’t complain about things afterwards if you had the choice to be there and decided not to.
Anyway, I should talk about the race too. When you consider the front-end problems I was having all weekend, 10th is a pretty good result, and a bit of a surprise too. It’s even better when you look at some of the guys who finished behind me, so it’s a massive step in the right direction. We’d struggled so much with the front end all weekend and I’d already gone down in practice a couple of times on Friday, so it was hard to know how the tyres were going to react in the race, especially when the track temperatures got up to 46 degrees, the hottest they’d been all weekend. It was a bit of a step into the unknown, so when you look at some of the names behind us, we can be happy with the way the bike was working and how we were able to manage the tyres in some difficult conditions. It was probably a bit of a shock for all of us with the conditions, so it was great to get something good out of it. I felt like I got a reward for riding smart and managing the tyres well, and it feels like a good step for me.
I started from 19th but had got my way up to 11th, and I figured that was as far as I was going to get. But in the last few laps, I could see (Hector) Barbera was a long way in front of me, but it was pretty obvious he was struggling with the tyres and they were pretty much gone, so I was able to make some massive inroads on him in the final laps. I got to him around Turns 11-12 on the last lap and got past him, and he tried to re-pass me on the outside at 13, which you definitely couldn’t do, and he ran across the old track, where the track had been modified after Luis’ crash. So Barbera was completely off the circuit and didn’t give the place back before we crossed the line, but I got it back soon after the race finished, so that was a great result for me. It was a good end to a pretty bad weekend to be honest. There’s been a lot going through everyone’s heads for the last few days, and I’m sure we’ll all be feeling that way for quite a while.
Thanks for the support from home, I always appreciate it. Catch you next time from Assen.
This story originally appeared on redbull.com.au
Photos courtesy of Marc VDS.