Aspar Press Release: Jorge Martinez On The Moto3 Partnership With Mahindra

After several seasons working with Italian teams, Mahindra is taking a different approach for 2015. Next season, the Indian manufacturer will be working with the Aspar team in Moto3, with Jorge Martinez' Spanish squad getting full factory status. The rider line up is a talented one as well: alongside Juanfran Guevara, who stays with Aspar for another year, Francesco 'Pecco' Bagnaia and Jorge Navarro will ride the Mahindra MG01. With a new rev limit of 13,500rpm for 2015, one of the bike's weaknesses - a lack of top end power - has been mitigated, and Mahindra faces the future with more optimism.

As a prelude to the collaboration next year, the Aspar team issued the following press release, comprising an interview with team owner Jorge 'Aspar' Martinez. In the interview, Martinez reviews the progress made so far, and sets out his expectations for 2015:


“Mahindra have the desire and potential necessary to design a very competitive bike”

With a new bike and two new riders, the challenge for the MAPFRE Aspar Team in Moto3 for the 2015 season is very ambitious. The man responsible for this is Jorge Martínez 'Aspar' who is very optimistic after the first winter tests. The four-time World Champion has three big promises for the future in his ranks (Guevara, Bagnaia and Martín) and is ambitious about returning the team to the golden days of the 125cc class outfit. 'Aspar' is cautious, aware that there is still a long road ahead, but surrounded with young talent laden with an optimistic attitude and a factory in Mahindra willing to work exclusively for his team, he is dreaming of a great season in 2015.

How did the negotiations with Mahindra come about?

We had been in contact several times over the years, and there was a clear interest from both sides to work together. Since the beginning of last season we started talking for a joint project. In June we moved deeper into the issue and fortunately in July and we were able to confirm things. I think this collaboration is a success for both parties, because technically we are a highly experienced racing team in the World Championship who have produced great champions, and Mahindra are now getting behind us to use that experience on track. They are fully involved to make a competitive bike and we will assist them with our technical knowledge and our riders.

The MAPFRE Aspar Team will be a Mahindra factory team. What will the benefits be?

The most important thing here is joining forces. As I mentioned, we are a team of experts on the technical side, in rider training and in the structuring of work at both Grands Prix and outside. Mahindra will focus on building a fully competitive bike, so the agreement covers everything, both in the World Junior series to the Moto3 World Championship. I'm excited, I have high hopes for this new project that completely unites us with Mahindra. From now until the end of February is when the design of the bike for 2015 is being finished, and it is in these moments when you have to squeeze the maximum performance out of all aspects of the bike. Being a factory team means this: Having a structure behind you to develop a bike through your requests and feedback.

What are the best things about the new bike?

All our riders have commented that it has a very complete chassis. They liked it a lot in all its aspects: When entering corners, braking, accelerating and also in terms of stability. On the other hand, the engine is increasingly competitive and is already adapting to the regulations for next year, when there will be a 13,500rpm rev limit. The Mahindra is showing high potential.

Could this be the breakthrough bike of 2015?

It is still too early to talk, but what I can assure you right now is that things are going the right way. Although some work remains, we are very happy and excited.

The results from preseason testing have been very positive so far.

True, the results and the first feelings have exceeded our expectations. But we must keep our feet on the ground and keep working to evolve. We cannot rest for a second; the 2015 season is very important both for the MAPFRE Aspar Team and for Mahindra. We want to show Mahindra that we are a winning team, and I'm sure that they want the same thing, that this union reaches the top. We have work to do, but we are going in the right direction.

You have a new bike and two new riders. How is the 2015 challenge shaping up?

Partnering up with as important a multinational company as Mahindra is a huge challenge. I believe that the Indian manufacturer has the desire and potential to design a very competitive bike. We want to succeed, just like they do. Now both parties have to listen to the needs of one another to meet our goals and make 2015 a great year. In terms of the riders I am very happy, as they have had a great preseason.

Juanfran and Pecco will be in their third season and Jorge comes in having won the Rookies Cup. What do you expect from them?

I think all three are at an excellent level. Guevara took a big step forward last season, took the circuit record at Misano and also qualified twice on the front row. He knows what it takes to fight with the best riders in the category as equals, and just needs to believe he can be on the podium and win. Pecco is a young rider with enormous potential. Last season was not his best season, but for now I'm very happy with the testing that he has done with us and he has a very positive attitude. He has felt very comfortable with the bike and with the crew. He is one of the great promises in Moto3 and I am convinced that we will give us some great times. Jorge swept the Rookies Cup, and I am liking his skills a lot; I see an overwhelming desire in his eyes. I have told him that that's the first thing he has to keep. It is very important to have the vision and desire to grow, attack and win.

We’ve also seen a great atmosphere between them so far.

It is fundamental that the three get along and create a good atmosphere in the garage, just as it is essential that among all the crews we maintain a perfect relationship of respect and collaboration. We must go back to the times of the 125cc Aspar Team, which always had several riders fighting for victory. Everything will be down to working hard, finding a balance and the harmony required for the riders to have fun riding. I would also like to point out that with Mahindra we will also contest the Junior World series, which is a big backing for the future of motorcycle racing.

2015

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Comments

I seriously do not understand Mahindra. They were originally the assemblers of CKD Jeep kits and slowly turned manufacturers in the 1970s. They continued to build Jeeps finally switching to right hand drive after years of putting together Left hand drive models in a country, where like in the UK, people drive on the left side of the road. Having said that I must say that the rule in India is perhaps only notional usually with people choosing to drive on whichever side of the road is convenient to them. Till the 1990s Mahindra were using the World War II vintage Jeep platforms to produce Jeep clones that were the mainstay of the government departments, the Indian army and the police. In the 1990s when the delicencing of the Indian automotive sector happened Mahindra partnered with Ford only to break the partnership and came away with nothing in their hand. They then partnered Renault and this time around came back out of the partnership with full rights to the Dacia-Renault Logan platform.

In 2008 they bought out Kinetic Engineering which made two wheelers (scooters) in collaboration with Honda and some motorcycles with Hyosung of Korea. Kinetic could not withstand competition in the market and sold out to Mahindra. Prior to selling over, Kinetic had bought all of Italjet's assets and designs and also established a partnership with San Yang Motors of Taiwan. Mahindra has been selling three scooters that came out of this collaboration and have built a motorcycle that bombed in the market. They relaunched 110cc motorcycle in a different garb and met with very, very, moderate success. Mahindra sells about 15,000 units of its small capacity engined two wheelers every month while market leader Hero (who bought 49% of Eric Buell Racing) sell 500,000+ units every month. Mahindra does not advertise its racing legacy (probably a good thing since they only pay money to put their name on the 250 cc Moto 3 machines made by Suter) and do not advertise their two wheeled products also aggressively. It really makes me wonder what they are doing pouring buckets of money into Moto 3 racing which seems to be of no consequence for their road going machines. I also hear that Mahindra may pull the plug on their two wheeler division if it does not perform as per expectations (not laid out; the expectations bit that is).