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MotoGP, Stefan Bradl: "Aleix Espargaró's arrival doesn't worry me. There's lots of work to do."

"With the new concessions, we can test on every track, and my wild cards have gone from two or three per season to six per year. Furthermore, I've had to replace injured riders such as Morbidelli, Márquez, Crutchlow, Lorenzo, Rins, and Mir almost 50 times times in the past five and a half years."

MotoGP: Stefan Bradl:

Stefan Bradl, Moto2 World Champion in 2011 iwth Kalex, assumed the role as Honda MotoGP test rider after his season with Honda in the SBK World Championship in 2017, when he was teammate with Nicky Hayden on the Ten Kate HRC Honda team.

The German rider, who won the 2011 Moto2 title by beating Marc Márquez, scoring 53 Top Ten finishes in the "premier class", is now expected to sign another two-year HRC contract for 2025 and 2026. But, before the 2024 season, some changes took place in HRC MotoGP management's upper echelons.

Taichi Honda replaced Kuwata, and Shin Sato stepped in for Kokubu. They decided to strengthen HRC by hiring GP winner and Aprilia star Aleix Espargaró as test rider for 2025. What will this deal change for seven-time GP winner Stefan Bradl (34), who finished second at the Laguna Seca MotoGP in 2013?

Stefan, what went through your mind when you first realized that HRC was looking for another MotoGP test rider? Did you worry about your future?

"I didn't have sleepless nights. But, of course, some thoughts go through your mind at a time when there are changes at the HRC top level management, and a few changes need to be made because the results leave a lot to be desired. During the last few years, we've tested many new parts and components, but we weren't able to improve the performance of our bike. But, from HRC and the test team, I always got the confirmation that my work was appreciated. This was said, not only by the other Honda riders, but also by all the technicians, who have a lot of experience. Engineers and riders always welcomed my feedback and never complained about any failures or mistakes from my side. But you never know what could happen in a huge company like Honda, and what they're finally going to decide. At the beginning of the year, it was already obvious that they were looking for a second test rider. And I was curious what that would mean for my position at HRC. But I always felt a lot of support and trust from everyone involved."

At the end of April, the deal with Aleix Espargaró was already pretty close to getting done?

"Yes, at the Jerez GP, the rumors started increasing. A few weeks later, his arrival became pretty concrete. I asked  HRC management what this change would mean for me and asked for a meeting, which was held immediately. We very quickly arrived at a new verbal agreement for another two years for me.
But, while I had worked closely with Kuwata for many years, the new managers obviously wanted to get to know me before they made a decision. A
ll talks were held in a very positive manner. I'm a 'Honda man' and always have been. I rode for HRC for three years from 2012 to 2014 at LCR Honda after moving up from the Moto2, and I  now have a contract with HRC for the eighth year in a row. Even at a time when Honda isn't getting  the results they expect, I still want to contribute my share of work and experience with this bike, which I've been riding for eleven years now. I've been working as hard as possible to help Honda reach a better level in the MotoGP."

During the last few years, you signed a new test rider contract, in July or August?

"True. I haven't signed the new contract, yet. But the new contract is work in progress. I'm sure I'll be a HRC test rider for another two years. No problem."

Aleix Espargaró's arrival isn't a sign of missing trust in your ability?

"No, not at all. Honda shows a lot of trust in me. The mutual feeling is perfectly satisfactory."

Do you think HRC, saw with KTM, that manging  two top test riders like Dani Pedrosa and Pol Espargaró can make a big difference?

"Yes. Don't forget that my program reached a limit in 2023 and 2024 because, with the new concessions, we can test on every track, and my wild card entries increased from two or three per season to six a year. Plus, I had to step in as a replacement rider for injured riders like Morbidelli, Marc Márquez, Cal Crutchlow, Jorge Lorenzo, Alex Rins, and Joan Mir nearly fifty times during the last five and a half years. Also, we have lots new parts to test all the time. It's become too much of a job for one test rider. And don't forget the risk of an injury. If this happens one day, we'd be in real trouble. Finding a replacement test rider with a certain level and enough MotoGP experience isn't easy."

You've already done two wild cards inerez and Barcelona and are expected to do four other GP events in 2024. Is this the plan?

"Yes, at the Sachsenring, Red Bull Ring, Misano, and Valencia. At the end of June, weìll be testing in Valencia. We have no testing restrictions, except the fact that I can't ride on a GP track within two weeks before the race if I have a wild card entry for this Grand Prix."









Translated by Leila Myftija

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