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Moto2, Arbolino: "Learning from defeats is my virtue, I still have the fire inside"

INTERVIEW - "In racing you experience more difficult moments than glorious moments, that's where you have to get stronger. I'm struggling on the fast lap with the new Pirellis. MotoGP? there was not a clearer chance than last year. I'm not thinking about it and I live in the present, things will come."

Moto2: Arbolino:

It has not been an easy start to the season for Tony Arbolino, who in these first six races of the championship made his best performance in Jerez with a 7th place, and at the moment he is lying 10th in the standings. So there are many changes for the Italian from Garbagnate, who has now moved to Andorra: from a new manager Albert Valera, already the manager of Martin, Aleix and Acosta, to a new teammate Filip Salač, to new Pirellis that seems to have changed the balance on the track. The Marc VDS team rider is having a complicated start to the season despite only a few months ago ending 2023 as runner-up in Moto2, right behind Pedro Acosta.

The numbers, however, as Arbolino himself says, "do not deceive," The Shark has the pace for the podium, but qualifying and the inability to take full advantage of the new Pirellis relegate him to uphill races. The possibility of arriving in MotoGP, at such a propitious time and one that was already missed last year, therefore seems to have been put off at the moment, but Tony is not thinking about it, "every rider experiences more negative moments than positive ones." We interviewed him at Mugello, a circuit that saw him dominate overall in 2019 and finish second last year behind Acosta, the opportunity to reverse the difficult period could come right here, on the Italian circuit.

"At Barcelona there was a good feeling in the race, especially in the second half," says Tony Arbolino, "I think we can still get something positive from that weekend, but we have trouble exploiting the tyre well in the fast lap to get a good qualifying. We lack some confidence, that extra confidence to do it, at the moment we are working on that aspect, and that is what we will do here at Mugello. There is room for improvement."

There have been a lot of changes this year, on and off the track. From the change of manager to the arrival of the new Pirellis. Which one is having the biggest impact?
"The main difference this year has been the tyres, although I'm of the opinion that from the first tests the feeling was good, at Jerez I was fourth and third in Portugal so I can't say I was always behind. Maybe the confidence in the fast lap is missing, which is one of the aspects on which I also had some difficulties in the past, while on the other hand on the race pace I know I can have my say. You have to believe in it and be positive, then of course there have also been changes in my personal life, but in that aspect everything is stable and it has not affected me."

Now that you live in Andorra you have the opportunity to train with Fabio Quartararo, your longtime friend. Has being linked with your new manager Valera also allowed you to get closer to riders like Martin and Aleix?
"With my new manager Albert Valera, for the transition, he approached me and everything happened very naturally and easily. That harmony and personal and spontaneous relationship that for me is fundamental was immediately created, it's something I give a lot of importance to. I got to see Aleix and Martin a few times and I'm on good terms with them as well. But none of that has affected this first part of the season. The new tyres were the most important change, they brought some instability in the whole team, in the whole box. This also created difficulties for my new teammate, Filip Salač."

I heard that now as well as with motorcycles you are doing well with rap.
"No no ," he smiles , "that's just the mood of where I live.

One of your best performances last season was the victory at Philip Island. It was a victory achieved against the storm. You may have to race in the wet here at Mugello as well, you dominated here in 2019, and last season you finished second behind Acosta. Can this be the turning point in this difficult season?
"I really believe in it, I knew that Le Mans, Barcelona and Mugello would be crucial for this change. In Le Mans I could have fought for the podium if I had not finished 19th on the first lap. Even in Barcelona I had the pace of the front runners, the numbers don't deceive. Here at Mugello we will work on improving the start and the fast lap. Racing here in Mugello, with my family, gives me extra motivation to find what we have been missing since the beginning of the season."

Last year you fought for the title with Acosta ending the season as runner-up, but now you are having difficulties. You said in an interview that a rider experiences more hard times than good times.
"In the world of motorcycles in my opinion you experience more hard times to overcome than good times. When you are small you do a thousand races, a thousand opportunities to grow and learn. It's more the moments when you think about the next race than when you reflect on a victory. That's where you have to get stronger, I think it's always been one of my virtues to be able to learn from defeats, to fall down and know how to get back up. Now I really feel like I'm in one of those moments of rising up, of rebirth."

After Le Mans last season there were rumors of the possibility of you arriving in MotoGP. This year many rider contracts are expiring, do you think you still have a chance to move up category?
"Obviously there was no clearer possibility than last year, but also the market situation was very different. Right now I' m not thinking about it too much, I'm always of the idea of living in the present, because then things come. I don't like to think about the day after tomorrow, if I'm fine tomorrow, the day after tomorrow we'll be riding. I deal with things step by step, with my head down and working hard. Inside I still feel I have so much fire, so much desire to prove."

 

Translated by Julian Thomas

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