After 10 years in Moto3, Niccolò Antonelli has made the step into Moto2. The first contact with the Kalex of the VR46 team took place at the end of November and now he will have all winter time to prepare for the new adventure. The driver from Cattolica hadn’t expected to stay in the cadet class for that long, but now it’s time to look ahead.
Niccolò, your first Moto2 test is over.
“I would say finally! We had a bit of bad luck with the weather, it rained a little on both days and the wet areas bothered us. When the asphalt started to dry it was cool, I began to understand the bike and tried to push. With these big tires, Moto2 is great on Lean. It was an interesting test, now I have a lot of information ”.
“Moto2 is fun and looks more like a 1000 stick than a 600”
You usually train with a Yamaha R6, does it make sense to prepare for Moto2?
“The problem is that a Moto2 is closer to a 1000 than a 600, the performance changes. To give an example, we ride the R6 in times that are close to those of a Moto3, the Moto2 is completely different, it is a real racing bike ”.
Is that what you expected
“I was super excited before I got on the bike, I had an idea but I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a big change after so many years in Moto3, but on the bike I immediately calmed down. There are so many things to understand, but it’s a very fun bike. I was expecting a little more power, but didn’t think the wheelie would be that difficult. There is a lot to learn, for example to turn the wheel while drifting around the bends, so the good guys ride it to get up earlier ”.
Is it going to be a long process? We immediately saw a lot of rookies, especially Raul Fernandez.
“The goal is to be fast. I felt very comfortable from the start and I have an incredible team. I am in no hurry and I must not be in a hurry, but I will try to learn as soon as possible. From now on I will train with the Academy on the 1000 and that will certainly be good for me, I have heard that many rookies in Moto2, like Acosta, have already done this. I hope that weight and performance will not be a problem in the next tests ”.
“I could go back, I would go to Moto2 first”
You ran Moto3 for 10 years, would you have thought you stayed a little less?
“The truth is, I could have started Moto2 earlier. I found myself in a situation where, after I decided to stay in Moto3, the following season didn’t go so well and I didn’t have a chance to start from scratch. Certainly, if I could go back, I would take the opportunity to switch to Moto2 in 2015, in 2016. In the end, we can’t get on with the “ifs” and “buts” so that’s fine.I”.
You rode in Moto3 for 10 years, would you have thought you’d stayed a little less?
“The truth is, I could have started Moto2 earlier. I found myself in a situation where, after I decided to stay in Moto3, the following season did not go so well and therefore I had no chance to continue, I started from scratch. If I could return, I would of course take the opportunity to switch to Moto2 in 2015. In the end, ì “if” and “but” go nowhere, so that’s fine. “
Many of the riders you competed against in Moto3, from Mir to Quartararo, from Bagnaia to Bastianini, are already in MotoGP. How does it affect you?
“It is the reality of the facts and there is no point in sticking to it. Of course, it hurts a bit, especially when I remember all the mistakes I’ve made. I started in the same state, with all cards in hand. If you are here now and I am not, it means you did something better than me. I know the reasons, I know what happened to me in my career, I just have to look ahead and the next one will be where I always wanted to be. The future has yet to be written, I think I’m a strong rider and I want to show that I’m competitive in Moto2. Everyone has their own story ”.
“I used to be too generous and that hurt me”
Do you think you got less than you deserved in Moto3? You have had a lot of injuries.
“The only two years without injuries were 2012 and 2015, this year I broke my hand as well, but only two bones repaired quickly. There were seasons when injuries were a problem. I am sure I regret some things because I was too generous at times and that caused me to get hurt. I am convinced that I would have had a different career with fewer injuries, but that is a thing of the past. Now I’m on a good team, I can start over in a new category, I’ll try to do better in Moto2. For me it is a new beginning and I am happy, I only look into the past so as not to make the same mistakes again ”.
Is it still the right time to jump?
“I learned a lot last season, we could have done even better in the end result without any problems, but the team helped me to grow a lot, I was able to overcome some of my limits, even when driving. The change to Moto2 is coming to one good time, besides I’m doing it with a great team, we know each other well, we have a lot to give each other Years before everything is great ”.
How are you different from the young man who took his first steps in the World Cup in 2012?
“I talked to my father about I see these 16, 17 year olds who are already mature there is not much difference between me and you. When I arrived I was almost a child, my head wasn’t ready like today’s rookies, they already have clear ideas and official bikes. You already know what to do, now I’m beginning to understand (laughs). When I was younger, I just stepped on the gas, I didn’t know how to manage myself “.
“Now the motorbikes are all strong, that’s what makes group races in Moto3”
However, there was a lot of criticism of the behavior of young riders in Moto3, and it was also decided to raise the minimum age from 16 to 18 years.
“I’ve never said too much on the subject, but if I have to give my opinion, there has been one change over the years, and a very big one. In my opinion, increasing the minimum age will not change anything, this kind of problem did not exist years ago because different motorcycles were at the start. Let me explain: if you had the factory Honda or KTM you were in front, with the Mahindra or the FTR you had more problems so there were more groups with fewer riders. But now all the bikes are awesome, the same goes for the tires, and as far as the riders go, the top 20 could get on the podium this year so everyone is very close and the level of “ignorance” is rising. Many drivers are not afraid of anything and these races are the result. My solution would be to go back to factory and standard bikes but I don’t know if that is possible. We’ll see what Race Direction will do, I hope certain accidents don’t happen again.
What are your plans for the winter?
“I will mainly work hard because I have to increase my strength, Moto2 is very physical and I want to be ready in February. Then I’ll go skiing for a while “.