Interview: Remy Gardner
At Losail for the opening 2015 MotoGP round, I spent some time with Remy Gardner, son of the Australian 500cc World Champion (1987) Wayne Gardner. The Gardner family has been on a challenging adventure for the past few years, having left Australia to support Remy’s dream of racing Grand Prix motorcycles.
For the 2014 season, Remy finished 9th overall in the Spanish CEV championship behind current Moto3 rookies such as Fabio Quartararo, Jorge Navarro, Hiroko Ono and Gabriel Rodrigo.
After several wildcard appearances last season in Moto3 (including scoring a Championship point at Sepang), Remy now races for the French CIP Moto3 team alongside Tatsuki Suzuki on Mahindra motorcycles.
Scott Jones: As an Australian who left your home country to race in Spain, what can you tell us about the challenges related to that move?
Remy Gardner: It’s always a challenge to move away from your home country, but we made this decision because I did a year in Spain before the CEV, in a pre-GP class, the CMV, which is a step below the CEV.
We were flying from Australia to Spain for every race. We missed testing, I missed some school, and was sleeping in class. It was seven rounds, I think, and I finished second in the championship. So we wanted to take the next step, to the CEV, but we couldn’t stay in Australia again. Basically we had to move.
It was really hard the first year. We nearly went home at one point. Everything was going really badly.
SJ: On track, just in general?
RG: On track and in general. We nearly went back, but we hung in there a bit longer and I joined the Calvo team and things started to get better after that.
Now I’m speaking the language quite well, and things are a lot better. But it was very, very difficult. There’s no point competing if you’re not on a factory bike. You have no chance when the top ten are all factory bikes.
SJ: How did you move to the Calvo team?
RG: My first year in Spain was with our own team on a Moriwaki chassis. We wanted to change the geometry and other things but they didn’t want to put the effort in. And it was too hard running our own team, so when a bigger team was interested we joined them.
As I said, there’s not point trying in the CEV without a factory bike. And you can’t get free rides there anymore, everyone wants money [brought by the rider]. I think this year there won’t be as many people as they thought because no one can afford it.
SJ: Let’s talk about moving to Moto3. What has that been like in terms of finding money, finding a position on a team, and then the competition on track?
RG: I think its easier to find money in Grand Prix, where you get more value for your money than in CEV. You get 18 races in MotoGP and it’s not that much more [money] compared to CEV. Plus you get TV exposure, bigger sponsors are here. You get much more bang for your buck.
On track, you’d think it’d be a massive step, but it’s not. CEV is at such a high level, especially last year there were a lot of fast guys. Fabio [Quartararo], [Gabriel] Rodridgo, myself, [Stefano] Manzi… There were a lot of quick riders. We were riding a second, a second and a half off Moto3 pace. So it’s a step, but it’s closer than people think.
SJ: So you feel pretty comfortable riding in the Moto3 pack?
RG: Yes. Obviously it’s much harder, because the thing with CEV is you get two days of testing before the race, so you can take your time and learn the tracks.
Here it’s turn up on Friday, you get three sessions to learn the track, and then go as hard as you can [in Qualifying].
So that’s a challenge, especially for anyone coming from CEV, but that’s what you have to work with.
SJ: So you’re looking forward to racing on the Spanish tracks you already know?
RG: Sure, the tracks I know, I’ll look forward to those, but everyone else knows them as well! All the [Moto3] rookies I race against, they’ll be just as quick. On the Spanish tracks you have to really push because everyone knows them. You have to be on the limit every lap because all the Spanish riders know the tracks perfectly in Spain, they’ve been riding them for so long.
SJ: Considering how many riders show up in GP for a season or two and then disappear, do you feel pressure to deliver now to show you deserve to stay, possibly to move on to Moto2?
RG: I don’t feel like I have to deliver this season for my Moto2 chance, no. It just depends on how the season goes and if I grow more, on my size and weight. I’ve got time, but I need to keep my eye on the ball.