Julian Simon came into the Moto2 championship as the reigning 125cc World Champion, but championships mean nothing in a brand new class. But the Mapfre Aspar rider has started the season well, despite the team switching chassis - from the Italian RSV frame to the Swiss Suter chassis - after just two races, currently 7th in the Moto2 title chase. MotoMatters.com caught up with Simon on Saturday evening at Mugello, and asked him about the differences between 125s, 250s and Moto2, and whether Moto2 provides a good preparation for the MotoGP class.
MotoMatters: You came in as 125cc champion, into a completely new class. How is that different?
Julian Simon: The biggest difference is the weight. The Moto2 bike is much more heavy compared to 125s. But the engine is easier. It's not difficult because it's a four stroke. It's very easy to open the gas in the middle of the corner, so it's not bad. But the biggest difference is the weight. Also compared to the 250, this is different.
MM: How does it compare to a 250? Is it similar, or nothing like it?
JS: I preferred the 250s. It was easier for entering the corner. But the big difference is the engine. The four stroke is much easier.
MM: A lot of people have had trouble getting used to the clutch. The clutch is very simple, and there are no electronics to help with corner entry, but you seem to be coping with it quite well?
JS: Yes, the clutch is our biggest problem. At the braking point, it is very aggressive. With 125s and 250s it was much easier, you can brake in the middle of the corner or on corner entry. This bike is more difficult to stop.
MM: How have you gone about training to ride a four stroke with that engine braking? Have you been riding supermoto or motocross?
JS: Yes, I ride supermoto, but also motocross. But still, it's completely different because this bike is heavier.But the feeling, you can practice sliding with the supermoto.
MM: You moved up to 250s and then back down to 125s, which was a very brave decision. Do you think that moving between different classes helped in training your mind to thinking about how different bikes work?
JS: It's completely different. Also, the way is completely different to 250s, so for me it is new. I did not take my experience from 250s into Moto2, for me it is very different. Maybe some of that experience, yes, but the bikes are completely different.
MM: You've switched chassis [from RSV to Suter], are you happier with the new chassis?
JS: Yes, I am more happy. It's easier for changing directions in the corner, it's easier in the chicanes.
MM: So here [at Mugello] it's much better, because of all of the changes of direction?
JS: Yes. Only the problem at the moment is a lot of vibration, a lot of chattering, but we are working on it.
MM: The point of the Moto2 class is to train and educate riders. Do you think that in the Moto2 class right now, the riders make a bigger difference than in 125s or 250s?
JS: Sure. At the moment, it is very complicated to stay in the front places, especially in the qualifying practice. For example, today in qualifying I made the 10th place. So in qualifying, it is more difficult to stay at the front. In the race, at the moment, when you have a good rhythm, you can stay in front, no problem. So for me, the most difficult is the qualifying practice.
MM: Is it frustrating? Because two tenths of a second can be 10 or 15 places …
JS: Yes! It's very difficult, because here at Mugello, many riders followed another rider who is faster [and got a good starting position], so it is complicated to stay at the front. The most important thing is to start on the second row or third row, maximum, to get a good start. But the most important thing is to have a good rhythm to make a good race, and go fast in the race.
MM: Do you think Moto2 is a good class to learn the skills you need to ride a MotoGP bike?
JS: Yes. But at the moment, Moto2 is still changing a lot. The evolution is maybe at 50%, and the evolution is changing a lot. The times at the moment, the 250s are faster. It is necessary to improve the clutch, also the tires, also the weight. But the bikes are coming better.
MM: So maybe in a year or two, it will be better preparation?
JS: Yes. But it is good preparation, you take experience for MotoGP. I think Moto2 is good to learn for MotoGP.
MM: I've been trying to compare Moto2 and 250s to go to MotoGP...
JS: At the moment, I think Moto2 is better to go to MotoGP.
MM: Because of the engine characteristics?
JS: Yes, four stroke I think is better.