Karel Abraham is back in the MotoGP paddock after a year away. The Czech rider returns to the elite category full of determination and excitement to ride his favourite bike, a Ducati, which he hopes will bring him happiness on track and, he says, the results will follow
Now that the new year is underway and with a full season ahead of us, what are you asking for from 2017?
I hope to have a competitive bike that works. I am really looking forward to the start of the new season. In the past, when I first arrived in MotoGP, which is six years ago now, it was on a Ducati. It was my favourite bike and to come back on a Ducati makes me really excited to start this new challenge.
How has it been for you to return to the MotoGP paddock?
It is nice to be back. I could speak about this for hours but when I went to World Superbikes it was because I didn't have a good option to stay in MotoGP. But it didn't work out like we hoped and in the end I had to leave the team, I couldn't stay there. During last season we saw that there was an opportunity to return to MotoGP with the Aspar Team and it is what I wanted. This is where I grew up, because I started in the World Championship at 15 years of age. I prefer to be in MotoGP, I think partly because I am more used to it.
As you will know, this won't be your first time on a Ducati - it was the bike you started out with in MotoGP, in 2011 and 2012. How much has the bike changed since then?
It is a different bike. Unfortunately during those two seasons the factory was immersed in making a complete change. During my first season the engine was still part of the chassis. Then in my season season we had an aluminium, normal chassis. So being in the middle of such a big change during that first season, the bike didn't work. This bike is very different, I feel good on it and have more confidence because I know how it will respond. That wasn't the case before.
What would you say are the strong points of the Ducati?
Ducati has always been a factory that produces strong engines, maybe that is the strongest point of the bike. But it is not easy to compare with the rest of the bikes because I have only had four days of tests and one of those was on the GP14. Also not all the riders were at Jerez. It is difficult to make comparisons right now. To me the bike is incredible but it is too soon to answer this question properly.
What is your main goal for this season?
That is a difficult question to answer in January. To put it simply, I would like to have fun out on track. When a rider is having fun, the results usually aren't bad. But right now it is hard to say what a good result is. First place is a good result, but in normal conditions that is a long way off. You could say eleventh place is a good result... but tenth is always better. And what if everybody really improves? Then maybe fifteenth would be a good result. Right now I just want to be happy in my racing and if that happens the results will be good.