Mahindra has done a spectacular job at making a truly competitive bike for racing in Moto 3, and that too is such short duration of time. Mahindra Racing is the first Indian team to participate in the FIM Moto GP World Motorcycle Racing Championship and the FIA Formula E Championship. The factory team entered into the championship in 2011, in the 125cc class, and raced in the newly formed Moto3 championship in 2012. Mahindra Racing entered the Italian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (CIV) in 2012. The team's historic 2012 victory in the CIV Constructor's Cup made Mahindra the first Indian team to win an international motorsport championship. In 2013, the team competed in the 2013 FIM Moto3 Championship as well as in the Moto3 (250cc - 4 stroke) class of the CIV.
After several seasons working with Italian teams, Mahindra is taking a different approach for 2015. Next season, the Indian manufacturer will be working with the Aspar team in Moto3, with Jorge Martinez' Spanish squad getting full factory status. The rider line up is a talented one as well: alongside Juanfran Guevara, who stays with Aspar for another year, Francesco 'Pecco' Bagnaia and Jorge Navarro will ride the Mahindra MG01. With a new rev limit of 13,500rpm for 2015, one of the bike's weaknesses - a lack of top end power - has been mitigated, and Mahindra faces the future with more optimism.
As a prelude to the collaboration next year, the Aspar team issued the following press release, comprising an interview with team owner Jorge 'Aspar' Martinez. In the interview, Martinez reviews the progress made so far, and sets out his expectations for 2015:
With a new bike and two new riders, the challenge for the MAPFRE Aspar Team in Moto3 for the 2015 season is very ambitious. The man responsible for this is Jorge Martínez 'Aspar' who is very optimistic after the first winter tests. The four-time World Champion has three big promises for the future in his ranks (Guevara, Bagnaia and Martín) and is ambitious about returning the team to the golden days of the 125cc class outfit. 'Aspar' is cautious, aware that there is still a long road ahead, but surrounded with young talent laden with an optimistic attitude and a factory in Mahindra willing to work exclusively for his team, he is dreaming of a great season in 2015.
How did the negotiations with Mahindra come about?
We had been in contact several times over the years, and there was a clear interest from both sides to work together. Since the beginning of last season we started talking for a joint project. In June we moved deeper into the issue and fortunately in July and we were able to confirm things. I think this collaboration is a success for both parties, because technically we are a highly experienced racing team in the World Championship who have produced great champions, and Mahindra are now getting behind us to use that experience on track. They are fully involved to make a competitive bike and we will assist them with our technical knowledge and our riders.
The MAPFRE Aspar Team will be a Mahindra factory team. What will the benefits be?
The most important thing here is joining forces. As I mentioned, we are a team of experts on the technical side, in rider training and in the structuring of work at both Grand Prix and outside. Mahindra will focus on building a fully competitive bike, so the agreement covers everything, both in the World Junior series to the Moto3 World Championship. I'm excited, I have high hopes for this new project that completely unites us with Mahindra. From now until the end of February is when the design of the bike for 2015 is being finished, and it is in these moments when you have to squeeze the maximum performance out of all aspects of the bike. Being a factory team means this: Having a structure behind you to develop a bike through your requests and feedback.
What are the best things about the new bike?
All our riders have commented that it has a very complete chassis. They liked it a lot in all its aspects: When entering corners, braking, accelerating and also in terms of stability. On the other hand, the engine is increasingly competitive and is already adapting to the regulations for next year, when there will be a 13,500rpm rev limit. The Mahindra is showing high potential.
Could this be the breakthrough bike of 2015?
It is still too early to talk, but what I can assure you right now is that things are going the right way. Although some work remains, we are very happy and excited.
The results from preseason testing have been very positive so far!
True, the results and the first feelings have exceeded our expectations. But we must keep our feet on the ground and keep working to evolve. We cannot rest for a second; the 2015 season is very important both for the MAPFRE Aspar Team and for Mahindra. We want to show Mahindra that we are a winning team, and I'm sure that they want the same thing, that this union reaches the top. We have work to do, but we are going in the right direction.
You have a new bike and two new riders. How is the 2015 challenge shaping up?
Partnering up with as important a multinational company as Mahindra is a huge challenge. I believe that the Indian manufacturer has the desire and potential to design a very competitive bike. We want to succeed, just like they do. Now both parties have to listen to the needs of one another to meet our goals and make 2015 a great year. In terms of the riders I am very happy, as they have had a great preseason.
Juanfran and Pecco will be in their third season and Jorge comes in having won the Rookies Cup. What do you expect from them?
I think all three are at an excellent level. Guevara took a big step forward last season, took the circuit record at Misano and also qualified twice on the front row. He knows what it takes to fight with the best riders in the category as equals, and just needs to believe he can be on the podium and win. Pecco is a young rider with enormous potential. Last season was not his best season, but for now I'm very happy with the testing that he has done with us and he has a very positive attitude. He felt very comfortable with the bike and with the crew. He is one of the great promises in Moto3 and I am convinced that we will give us some great times. Jorge swept the Rookies Cup, and I am liking his skills a lot; I see an overwhelming desire in his eyes. I have told him that that's the first thing he has to keep. It is very important to have the vision and desire to grow, attack and win.
We’ve also seen a great atmosphere between them so far!
It is fundamental that the three get along and create a good atmosphere in the garage, just as it is essential that among all the crews we maintain a perfect relationship of respect and collaboration. We must go back to the times of the 125cc Aspar Team, which always had several riders fighting for victory. Everything will be down to working hard, finding a balance and the harmony required for the riders to have fun riding. I would also like to point out that with Mahindra we will also contest the Junior World series, which is a big backing for the future of motorcycle racing.