Dec 23, 2012
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'I AM IN THE BEST POSSIBLE TEAM TO MAKE THE MOST OF THIS OPPORTUNITY'
Well-spoken, fun, vivacious, honest... the list goes on. Jordi Torres is one of those riders that's always a pleasure to talk to. More than a top rider he is a top person and has an optimistic outlook that belies the hurdles that he has overcome in his young life. After two half-seasons as a stand-in rider in 2013 he will finally get the opportunity to be a MAPFRE Aspar Team rider for a full campaign.
At the age of 25 and with a host of national titles behind him Torres is approaching the new challenge with the enthusiasm of a youngster, both on the track and off it. As hard working as anybody he has been desperate for this opportunity for a number of years and now it is here he does not plan to let it slip by. In the recent tests at AlmerÃa he showed his intent with some record lap times.
Jordi Torres, a full-time World Championship rider at last. . .
I feel very happy. Finally I am able to put all my efforts into one championship, without having to change bikes every weekend. I hope this continuity can also bring confidence and the best out of my riding so that I can give my very best every week on track. I am very highly motivated and I think we can achieve great results this season. It has been hard for me to get myself into this position and I know that it carries a lot of responsibility so I am determined not to waste the opportunity.
How does a rider cope with competing in three championships at once (World, Spanish and European)?
I'll be a bit lost now! [laughs] It is a relief to know that you have a place in the World Championship and that you are going to have the material to be competitive, especially in a top team like the MAPFRE Aspar Team. I have finally arrived amongst the elite, there is not much further to go beyond this, so I have to concentrate on giving everything I have and achieving the best possible results. Having a ride like this gives you extra self-belief and that helps you channel your energy into the right places. Being a substitute is a good opportunity but nothing more than that. Now there are no excuses - this is the most important opportunity of my life.
What do you remember about your first Grand Prix experience?
I was offered a wildcard in 2010 at MontmelÃ³ with the Griful team, who were competing in the Spanish Championship. I rode a Promoharris but I had never used Dunlop's World Championship tyres before and that made things difficult. I realised how flustered you can get when things don't go your way. I was new, time disappeared in every session and I got a taste of what it was really like to compete at Grand Prix level. Despite all that I managed to pick up a decent result.
And your first race with the MAPFRE Aspar Team?
It was my second Grand Prix, at Silverstone. There were a lot more new things for me to deal with that time: catching a flight to head abroad, meeting the team on the Thursday morning, seeing how organised everything was, being part of such a professional team... I had never seen such a high level of and with so many new things to get used to I was a bit taken aback. On the Friday morning I rode JuliÃ¡n SimÃ³n's bike, which was a huge responsibility for me when you consider what a top rider he is. The team and the bike were top level so I felt a bit awkward. Even though it rained in some of the sessions and the track was also new to me the team helped me to gradually build my pace. In the race it rained really heavily and I made a slow start. As the laps went by I built my pace and made up positions but then I got carried away and crashed.
Has this opportunity come along at the right time?
I suppose so. I am 25 years old now and riders tend to come into the championship at a younger age but the most important thing is that you're fast. Lots of people have said that I am at my peak now and I think I have made a lot of progress since 2010 in the CEV, finishing as runner-up and then winning the championship twice. I have been giving my best for years. I don't know whether the opportunity has come along at the right time, the important thing is that it has come. I am really happy because I think I am here on merit. I have had to work a lot, not just showing my pace but showing a hard-working attitude. The past two seasons I rode as a substitute but it was like a test. Now this is finally going to be my first real season as a Grand Prix rider, if you want to call it that.
Will you feel sad to leave the CEV after so many years?
I have got a lot of friends there and I will continue to go and visit. The CEV is like a family to me and I have been a part of it for a long time so I won't be leaving it behind at all. I still feel part of the CEV family.
After winning the title twice you have left the Moto2 series in the CEV a bit empty. . .
Not at all, the Moto2 series in the Spanish Championship is at a really high level. I think the fact that a rider like myself has won the title twice there and now has the opportunity to compete in the World Championship should be a source of motivation for the teams and riders currently in the CEV, who will all be working as hard as they can to get a chance like this.
What did it mean to you to win the CEV in the final round at Valencia?
I came out of the final round of the World Championship with the right balance of confidence and fitness. Even though I was the fastest in practice the lap times were really close and my only objective was to seal the championship. When the race started I began to feel confident and I was able to win the race quite easily. To win the Spanish Championship with a victory in the final round, already in the knowledge that I would be moving up to the World Championship next season, that was the icing on the cake. It was about glory but it was also about family and friendship. It was the fruit of a lot of hard work, not just from me but from my team, my family, everybody around me. I celebrated it by wearing a replica of my brother's helmet. The win at Valencia felt like liberation after competing in several different championships simultaneously.
You have been Suter. . .
Suter is like home! [laughs]. I get on really well with the engineer from Suter. The bike has a lot of potential and the whole technical staff there have a great work ethic. The Suter is a sensitive bike that needs a lot of work if you want to find even the smallest improvement. The flip side is that it gives a lot back and we have learnt a lot of things in a short space of time. My team of mechanics at the MAPFRE Aspar Team know it perfectly now and that's a great help.
At the recent AlmerÃa test you lapped in record time (1.35.90). . .
It was only my second test as a Grand Prix rider and I was only used to going from race to race. Just having the time to test and discovering new aspects of the bike was a total privilege for me. I think I'm a hard-working person and I don't get tired. I just want the bike to go a little better so I can go that bit faster. In three days we tested non-stop and gradually found our best setting, then pushed for the fastest lap we could do on the last day. I set a 1.36.30 on used tyres and we were planning to end the test there but I knew I could go a bit faster so I asked my crew chief if we could put fresh tyres on. In the end we set a great lap with a good feeling and that was a nice reward after three days of hard work.
Are you going to alter your training programme for this winter?
This is going to be the toughest preseason of my life! [laughs]. I have set myself a lot of targets. I am going to work hard on the bicycle to improve my cardiovascular fitness. I also have to focus on losing some weight. When the bikes are so similar in terms of horsepower it is important to be as light as possible.
In 2012 you had best results of eighth and sixth at AragÃ³n and Valencia respectively. . .
If we work hard I don't think the circuit will matter, we'll be up at the front. My objective is to be consistently inside the top ten and improve from there, It won't be easy but I am convinced we can be competitive.
What does it mean to you to race for a name like Aspar?
I know the team perfectly well now and that makes me feel comfortable, like a home from home. That makes the work more fun and more productive. Every day the team shows its work ethic and its quality. Every member has a winning mentality and a competitive approach and in the end that shows through. I am in the best place I could possibly be to make the most of this magnificent opportunity. As for Jorge, he is a key figure at every level of the team. Personally, to have him in the garage is a big help and he has given me lots of little bits of advice that help me improve. I feel very integrated into the team and that is important because as well as working hard we have to enjoy what we do.
What are you hoping for from the new year?
Just a little bit of luck, so that things keep going as well as they have done up to now and, if possible, even better.