Posted on Jul 15, 2015 by George Penny
What a difference a year makes – I sat on this same sofa in the Monster Tech 3 Hospitality Unit at the Sachsenring in Germany last year under no illusions that the end was near. The truth was it did not look good. I’d crashed five times during the weekend and there was no new contract for 2015. It was a situation that re-shaped my career because during the summer break I had a long hard look at myself and came back strong in the second half of the season and earned that new contract.
The first part of this year has gone exceptionally well and to be joint fifth in the MotoGP World Championship, the leading non factory and British rider shows just what can be done when everything seemed so bleak 12 months ago. I’m a little bit humbled what has happened with those consistent finishes every week because so much is down to the team around me and the bike.
The moment I sat on the M1 Yamaha at the end of season test in Valencia last year I felt extremely comfortable and I knew it was a bike for me. During the winter tests I worked hard to make those small differences that are so vital. Every weekend during the season even when the bike has felt good I always tried to find that little bit of extra because the goalposts constantly move in MotoGP. Things change even over a race weekend with faster lap times the whole time and you have to be on your game.
It may seem strange but it’s been a blessing I’ve had no upgrades to the Yamaha over the year which means we’ve never lost this base setting we found right from the start. We may not have exactly what we want but we have what we need and right now we need what we have to do with what we have. I’m able to squeeze the maximum out of the bike because I know the bike so well after riding it for the last seven months. I know all the feelings, both pros and cons. Of course you are always looking for parts to make it better but there is no guarantee when you get them they will improve those lap times. We have what we need and we are happy with that.
Like all things in life just when you think you have mastered every situation something happens to bite you on the bum or in my case on the chin. I had a warning on Saturday morning in practice coming out of the fast turn 12 but obviously I had not taken enough notice and the M1 needed to remind me in qualifying. I had my heart set on at least a second row start and as my old school teachers and my Mum and Dad will tell you when I have my heart set on something I go to the enth degree to make it happen. I tried extremely hard to actually put myself off the racetrack coming out of turn 12 once again.
It’s always a good warning when you start to get a little too complacent. When everything is going so well and your confidence is sky high you take things for granted riding a 265 bhp, 220 mph motorcycle. You come too familiar with the bike and literally I took the reminder on the chin. I hit and broke the screen with my head and bashed my chin into the tripe clamp top yoke which is pretty solid. I can’t eat that well at the moment and careful when I grit my teeth but I can still speak. I’m sure it made great television especially as I did not crash.
Straight after the Assen race I flew to Japan and really enjoyed my first ride at the legendary Suzuka circuit testing for the forthcoming Eight Hour race. To be stood in front of the mirror in a blue set of Yamaha factory leathers was amazing and I had to pinch myself. It keeps that dream alive of one day making it a reality in MotoGP and I got one step closer. We were unlucky with the weather and rained most of the time but it can do that in the Eight Hour race and so we are prepared. Also there has not been many wet MotoGP sessions this year and so it was good to get some wet weather riding. Suzuka is an amazing circuit and it’s so disappointing we don’t get the opportunity to race MotoGP there but I can see why it’s too dangerous. Unfortunately the infrastructure there means changes can’t be made to make it safer. I’m lucky I get the chance to race there but with 83 teams entered for the race it’s going busier than a track day at Brands Hatch.
In Assen I finished the MotoGP race on the Saturday and flew to Japan on Sunday. From here in Germany I fly out Monday morning to Japan, land 8am Tuesday morning and hope to be out on track by 11.am. I’m certainly cramming everything in but as long as you plan it right I love it. Also I have some time in Japan to have a longer look round than usual and I hope to learn more about their culture and about the guys who I work with for most of the year.
It certainly beats recovering from five crashes and worry about the future.