Going into the start of the 2012 Moto3 season Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Danny Kent was tipped as one of the favourites to challenge for the inaugural title in the newly formed category, but the young Brit has encountered some bad luck in the opening four rounds.
A solid eighth place in Qatar was followed by a crash in the wet at Jerez, and a promising weekend at Estoril ended in eighth after which a mechanical problem resulted in a non-finish at the French Grand Prix last weekend.
Still confident of turning things around after a tough start to the season, Kent spoke to redbull.com during the Le Mans weekend...
You've seemed in good shape this season, despite results not being what you would have wanted...
“Testing in pre-season was going really well, and I think we perhaps put a bit too much pressure on ourselves going into the first race because of that. We definitely have the pace to be up there running with [team-mate] Sandro [Cortese] and Maverick [Viñales] and the other guys at the front, but we also need a little bit of luck and we haven't had much of that so far! We still have a lot of racing to go. It's a long season.”
The change to Moto3 seemed to suit you well in the lead-up to the season, but how have you found it in a racing situation?
“I'm really enjoying it. As I said from the very beginning, everyone is still learning and you can see it just keeps getting faster and faster. It's good to see the racing this year is a lot closer, it's not like last year where you often saw a one-man race at the front with others battling behind. It's really good for the fans to watch this year, and I'm still really enjoying it.”
You've had a chance to assess the competition now. Who are the men to catch?
“You can see from watching that Maverick is right up there, my team-mate Sandro too. You have [Romano] Fenati who's in his first season but already has his first win. We've had a different winner in every race so far, so I think we can have a lot more winners because it is such close racing this year.”
You have an extremely experienced team-mate in Sandro, but Arthur Sissis has come in with very little [experience] and impressed...
“Arthur is adapting to it really well. In testing he was struggling a little bit and then he came into the first race [in Qatar] and surprised a few people, whereas I've surprised a few people in testing and not done it in the racing, so I think we need to turn that around a little bit.”
What's the realistic aim come the end of the season, now you have a fair idea of the level?
“We can definitely fight for podiums I think, but we just need to calm it down a bit and work hard. We definitely have the pace and good material, a good bike and a good team, so there are no excuses. KTM have a lot of people from the factory here, and they're working hard in the factory in Austria so we have a really good package this year. I'll be really happy if I can finish in the top three in the Championship. We've had a bad start to the season but as I said before there are still a lot more races left, so we just need to get some good solid points and see what we can do towards the end of the year.”
It is early in the season, but have you got anything on the horizon for next season?
“To be fair it is still too early in the season and I'm not really thinking about next year. We just need to get some good results this year, and obviously the faster we are this year the easier it's going to be to get a ride next year. I think the plan is to move up to Moto2 next year because of my size: I'm one of the bigger riders. So I just need to concentrate on this year, try and get some results and see what we do for next year.”