Jack talks about his first race of 2016 and why just scoring points was a big bonus.
I’m back home in Andorra now after the first race of the year in Qatar last weekend. The night race is always pretty cool there, and that circuit will always be special for me since I won my first GP there in Moto3 two years back. Things are a bit different of course now I’m in MotoGP, but 14th on Sunday was pretty good with everything that’s happened in the off-season.
Everyone knows I had the leg injury from January and that I missed the first test in Sepang, but the Phillip Island test made me pretty optimistic I’d be OK for Qatar, plus it was great to be back in Oz for a week! The Qatar test was pretty tough with the direction of that track, so I knew the race weekend would be a challenge. All I wanted to do was get to the end, get points and manage to keep myself on the bike. I managed all of that – well, most of it.
I was flying blind for a lot of last weekend – coming off injury, a new team, new bike, hadn’t done a race distance in pre-season testing, hadn’t raced on the Michelins, hadn’t experienced the standard ECU … doesn’t sound ideal! Got a bit sick with some food on the way over to Qatar too. I had heaps of physio in the days before the race and actually felt pretty good, but then I had a strange crash in FP4 just before qualifying on an out-lap – I wasn’t pushing at all and I lost the front at the second-last corner and just went down. The bike just felt completely different to the night before and I wasn’t sure why, so that wasn’t the best for my confidence before qualifying. I got one lap in and was 18th – I was hoping for better than that.
I needed to make a good start in the race and my launch was pretty bad, but I still managed to make up four places on the first lap. I was in fights the whole race and the tyres were going off, so I had to manage that. I was in a good battle with (Eugene) Laverty and (Alvaro) Bautista on the last lap but I made a mistake and they got through. Could have been 12th, but ended up being 14th. My fault, but still, points and a race finish was an OK start all things considered. The leg didn’t bother me too much in the race, but it was definitely sore afterwards. And the new livery looks pretty sweet, don’t you think?
I’m glad we’ve got the first one out of the way, and the next two races are two of my favourites – Argentina and Austin. I got my first MotoGP points in Argentina last year and I won Moto3 in Austin in 2014, so back-to-back weekends at those two circuits will be awesome when we head out there next week.
Catch you next time,
This story originally appeared on redbull.com.au
Photo courtesy of Marc VDS.