Thailand … that really was not great, let’s be honest. I mean, who has ever been stoked with 16th? The thing is, I didn’t make any real mistakes in the race, I just didn’t have the pace. I was just lacking drive off the slower corners, Turn 1 and Turn 3 – and that was where the problems started.
When you lose two to three-tenths (of a second) every time you come off a slow corner, you carry that all the way down the next straight – and this place has two long straights in the first two sectors. You’re having to line up possible overtakes from a lot of bike lengths back and it gets pretty sketchy. Sectors 3 and 4 here, they were pretty good and I was able to make up a lot of time in Sector 3, especially in the first half of the race before the tyre started to drop. But all weekend I struggled with what we needed to do to get this tyre working.
Every time we have this (tyre) casing in, I seem to suffer more than the other tyres that we bring – we had it in Austria, India and now here. I’m not really able to get it to work, or understand it very well. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher. I tried different lean angles, picking the bike up earlier, short-shifting – every bloody thing I could. We’ve got some work to do – to not even bring home a point this weekend is disappointing. Quite clearly the bike’s able to work with these tyres, (KTM teammate) Brad (Binder) did a fantastic job all weekend and showed the KTM way.
This weekend we weren’t too far off, it’s just that everybody’s level is extremely high. We were 15, 16 seconds off (the win) and these days you’re out of the points when that happens … that was the difference between the podium five or six years ago. It’s good time to be in MotoGP, but it’s a bloody hard time.
It kind of felt things went away from me from Friday afternoon – I did 20 laps on a tyre that didn’t work at all, and that left me in Q1 for Saturday. My first time attack was good, and the second time attack I had (Aprilia’s) Aleix (Espargaro) on the line into Turn 4, the fastest corner on the track, and apparently he wasn’t on the line … and then there was a yellow flag. Being 13th but only 0.3secs off, that was a big penalty to end up in Q1, and then I ended up 15th on the grid after towing (Honda’s) Marc (Marquez) around and he got into Q2 where I didn’t.
I got asked about being followed by him – look, it didn’t bother me. At the end of the day, you can’t let it bother you because if you get frustrated with that when you’re trying to ride these monsters around, you’re taking away attention from what you’re doing. I mean … it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last, and I’m not the only victim. There’s no rules against it, but yeah … it is what it is. He knows how to play the game, that’s a reason why he is who he is because he knows how to play it. He’s good at playing the game, and we just have to get as good, if not better.
It’s a disappointing weekend because it’s so close here. I think that has to do with the track itself, it’s a relatively simple layout which explains how close the times are, and that makes it a track where it’s hard to make up or lose time. You can only brake so late at Turn 1 and Turn 3 and get the bike to balance in those corners, and the infield is tight and everything, but it’s not that difficult. But when you’re literally looking for thousandths of a second here and there, that’s where it gets hard and I was on the wrong side of that on Friday, and things went the way they did after that.
That’s three weekends in a row and three more in a row to finish the season, so I’m looking forward to getting back home and making the most of that one weekend off before we head to Malaysia! We have a lot of work to do after this weekend, clearly, and we’ll put our heads down and get that done. I’m confident we can finish this year stronger.