Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding says his strong start to the MotoGP season owes much to a technical tweak in the front forks of his bike, which has inspired his confidence again.
Redding lies fourth in the points standings going into this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin. After a disastrous pre-season testing campaign, changes to the internals of the front forks of his Ducati GP16 have transformed his pace – and two strong finishes has catapulted him ahead of the likes of Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow.
“It’s certainly not what I was expecting,” admitted Redding of strong points position. “But the first few races are always a bit mixed up in MotoGP. It would be nice to end [the season] there – don’t get me wrong! – but it will be very difficult.
“There’s a lot of action going on at the front, people trying to prove different things, a lot of rookies, different strategies and stuff going off.
“I work better with a race-by-race approach anyway. A lot of races make up the championship, all sorts happens and changes, so my targets are always set race-by-race.”
Front fork breakthrough
Redding explained that a change to the internals of his front forks has transformed his feeling with the bike, and allowed him to push on the entry to corners again.
“The front fork setting we changed – I mean, the Phillip Island test was just dogshit for me, no feeling in the front, no rear grip and struggling a lot,” he recalled.
“I thought it was going to be a long, hard season. Qatar was the same, and then we changed the front fork setting – it gives me more travel and more feel – and I fell back in love with the bike again.
“I could improve, build my confidence, and I felt in a great place mentally and physically. Although the tests were tough, I still believed in myself. I never let myself down, I dug in and found a way.”
Changing his approach
Redding says that a more methodological approach to his handling problems have reaped benefits, leading to the improvement in race form.
“In the races, I’ve been quite strong,” he said. “The strategy I have with the team is good, we go into a lot of technical depth in key areas. We don’t waste our time, we’re targeting race starts, early lap pace – things that make real improvements.
“When I come into the pits now, I know what to do. If we’re making a change, I’m much more confident about it. We’re working much better with the data, and the tyre wear. I’m a lot more interested in that this year.”
With the front-end of his Ducati now sorted, Redding is concentrating on the rear deficiency he believes is costing him time.
“Right now, tyre temperature seems to be a problem for me,” he admitted. “We’re seeing my tyre temperatures are too low in the early laps, it’s not working, and it’s up to me to work the tyre more to keep that temperature up. I’m working on that for this weekend.
“We’re also going to run with more fuel in the bike in practice. Y’know, the middle of the race isn’t where it’s won and lost – it’s the start and the end. I struggled in Argentina at the start, the guys were going away and I had nothing there.
“The Michelins are very sensitive to how you use the tyre and how you get it to the right temperature, so that’s what we’re working on now.”