Tony Arbolino is living his current success lightly, between a joke and a laugh. In a few days he will go through the gates of Mugello as Moto2 leader, after 5 races in which he has been on the podium 4 times, winning two. Yet he’s not becoming cocky, he is only thinking about the next goal, without taking anything for granted. The long break after Le Mans was for him to work, not yet to celebrate.
“I took part in a couple of events, then I went back to Barcelona and prepared - says the Marc VDS team rider - It doesn't seem like it, but three weeks is a long time, you have to keep riding the bike to not lose the rhythm. This way you keep your muscles trained.
Did you also have time to think about the start of the season?
“I'm telling the truth, I'm so focused and confident that I'm just living in the present. In other years I thought back about the mistakes, to what I had done, while now I’m only thinking about the next race. In this respect, I now have a good mentality, while in the past it was more difficult to manage things".
When did you change? Since the victory in Thailand last year it seems that you have turned over a page.
“That GP was the key point, but the process started earlier. After the Misano race with my team we decided to change the bike and our approach to the weekend, we said to ourselves that we wanted to win and that we could do it. Before there wasn't this solidarity between us, we changed our strategy: we tried to have a bike that went well everywhere, then I would adapt. We did it".
“I'm very focussed, both on the track and at home. I always want to do more, improve. Having a team and a crew chief behind me is very important."
How important is the team to you?
“I got on well with Lucio Nicastro from day one, but we weren't as fast as we wanted. During the last season we understood what we needed and we have always improved from then on. I understood how to be constant, that you have to take risks only when needed and this made me grow. Our strength at the moment is the group we have formed and I feel fast".
Before this season in Moto2 there was only talk of Acosta, didn't you feel a bit undervalued?
“I prefer that they underestimate me, that they don't talk about me, I know what I want and can do. I feel it, but on the other hand I'm very calm because I know what I can do. I'm just trying to improve and keep going."
How difficult was it to get to this point?
“I sweated a lot, but there were also a lot of good moments, like in the last two seasons in Moto3. I always struggled in the first year in the two categories, but now the more time passes the less I struggle because having already been through certain moments I know where and how I need to improve. Changing teams has helped me, I push everyone to the max, I ask a lot of my team and they do the same to me, that's what makes a group strong."
What do you think about when you look back? You come from Garbagnate, a suburb of Milan, not exactly the land of engines…
“I don't know why, my father and I have always known we were strong, it's a feeling I've always had. I was 6 or 7 years old, I saw the World Championship from far away, but I always saw myself as one of the fastest. However, it was not easy to come from Garbagnate, we left on Friday in the camper to go to Emilia Romagna, the centre of everything, where there were other strong riders, and we returned home on Sunday. On Monday I went to school angry waiting for Friday to come again (laughs). As a child I had few free weekends (laughs)”.
What role did your father play in all of this?
“I was lucky, he always believed in it. Every now and then I tell him and he replies: how could I do anything else? We went racing and we were the fastest, I couldn't help but continue (laughs). Seeing me always with so much desire gave him strength”.
Now let's jump back in time and get to Jorge Lorenzo. How did you manage to train alongside a champion of his calibre?
“You won't believe it, but he wanted it. It was 2018, I was racing in Moto3 and I hadn't been on the podium yet, I was still living in Garbagnate and I had started to think that I had to leave, because I wasn't able to train as I wanted, I wasn't making the most of my talent. I didn't know how to do it, but the following race I was in Malaysia, I was having a massage, and Jorge arrived. I didn't expect it, nobody knew me. He told me he wanted to train with someone fast, that we lived close together. I immediately rushed to my mum's house in Lugano and started training with his trainer, Ivan, with whom I still work and with Jorge. I felt a lot this gesture of his to come to me, I saw how much desire he had to always improve his mentality. All this struck me because I had yet to do anything in my career and it was not possible that I was not using 100% of my potential. He made me make a first change, the results arrived and everything went better from then on."
After Lorenzo, Quartararo: you went to train with him in America last winter.
“I've known Fabio for more than 10 years, we've always met maybe for dinner, but living far apart we didn't have time to hang out outside the track. When I started moving more, we met often and have a very easy relationship. I like it because it hasn't changed over the years."
What have you learned from these two champions?
“They are different, but also similar in what they do. I have much more confidence with Fabio, he is like a brother, but his mentality is the same as Jorge's: they always want to do more. I had it too, but I wasn't developing it in the right way, and now I've succeeded."
How would you describe yourself to someone who doesn't know you?
“I could tell you who I'm not (laughs). I'm a guy who has always had clear goals, right now I live alone without any kind of distraction, I'm in a bubble to reach the goals I set for myself. I'm a quiet guy, you can talk to me if you meet me on the street. And then? I'm a bit crazy (laughs)”.
What is your first thought if I say Mugello to you?
“A few days ago my first victory in the World Championship, in Moto3, came out in my Instagram memories, it was on 2 June 2019 at Mugello. It was a mess, my uncle jumped off the stands and had cracked two heels (laughs). It was great. Then I have many memories of the past, of CIV, and also that of the first time at Mugello with the 125 Pre-GP. I came from kart tracks, I was 13, there was fog, I didn't even know where I was (laughs)".
What do you ask from the public?
"I hope they are stoked and believe it as much as I do."