When Mahindra decided to get racing in the Moto 3 Class (they originally started in the final season of the 125cc Class), it took us all by surprise. For a manufacturer , as huge as Mahindra may well be, they were struggling with their two-wheeler business in India. Nobody would have ever thought that the first ever Indian Manufacturer to participate in the Moto GP world would be Mahindra, but then, Mahindra has always been a company that was never afraid to go head on into unchartered territories, just like their mighty capable SUV's.
Saying all that, Mahindra didn't just participate in the Moto 3, they did it in style. They had capable motorcycle from the beginning and the entire paddock was mighty impressed by their effort. For 2014 Mahindra has Joined hands with Aspar as the factory effort, a partnership that sounds like a win win for all involved in the project. Juanfran Guevara joined the MAPFRE Aspar Team for 2014, and took a fastest lap and two front row starts in his first season with the team. The Moto3™ rider is aiming to become one of the major players in the class in 2015.
He will do so on board a Mahindra, making him a factory rider within the MAPFRE Aspar Team. Guevara spoke this week about his first impressions of the Indian bike with motogp.com, preseason testing and his verdict on last year.
What is your overall review of your first season with the MAPFRE Aspar Team?
“In 2013 I arrived in the World Championship, but definitely did not reach my initial expectations. However, in 2014 I joined the MAPFRE Aspar Team and it has been a very positive move for me, both personally and professionally. This year I have taken a huge step up, the team have taught me a lot. From February to November, especially the last third of the season, I experienced tremendous growth. Undoubtedly I’m a better rider now, and in several races I achieved very positive results. That helps me believe in myself and makes me more eager to continue improving.
In 2014 you were alone in the MAPFRE Aspar Team and now you have two teammates. What can they give to you?
“The fact that I spent a season without a teammate has been very positive, since the team were able to completely focus on me. So much attention was great for me to improve my characteristics as a rider, which I needed to do. Now that I've got experience, sharing a garage with two riders in Bagnaia and Martin will be great. Both are very fast riders and I’m convinced that we’ll push one another. I guess it will work well, as Mahindra also have three young riders in their ranks.”
How is your foot after the crash at Valencia?
“Until Monday of this week I was wearing taping. I suffered a second-degree sprain, but the recovery will take a little longer than expected, because in the fall some ligaments, tendons and nerves were affected. I took off the dressing a few days ago, but as the day progresses I noted that my ankle tires and I find it harder to walk. In any case I was very lucky not to break my leg on that spectacular crash, and also that I was injured out of competition time.”
What are your first impressions of the Mahindra?
“The feeling that the Mahindra gives me is totally different from the bike I rode last season. This bike turns very well, it’s easy to lower times and, most importantly, the setup is relatively simple. I love the manoeuvrability. Having a factory behind you is very noticeable, as the bike evolves faster.”
Is being on a factory team noticeable?
“Very much so. We have seen in training, when asking for improvements they arrive for the next test. When we are working, especially in preseason, it is essential to have all the material and possible developments available in order to outline the 2015 bike. Mahindra have backed us completely and it is much easier to work like this. Everything we improve and our future results will be positive for us, but also for the factory.”
The Mahindra chassis looks promising!
“The prototype chassis for 2015 is a bit stiffer than the previous season’s, something which is very positive as they have corrected some chatter that was appearing with the 2014 frame. The bike turns in very well, and I think we have to work to try to gain a little more grip on the rear. I'm pretty aggressive on the first point of acceleration and hence the need to have a lot of grip.”
The engine is working better every day?
“Yes, we have tested the new engine which runs with 500rpm fewer. It responds equally as well as last year. The intention is to get better performance with lower rpm. At the moment it’s all very good.”