Interview with Mahindra Racing riders Miguel Oliveira and Efren Vazquez
Mahindra Racing's two current riders are Miguel Oliveira, the young 17-year-old from Portugal and Efren Vazquez who is 27, having arrived in Moto3 via the famous Dorna MotoGP school based in his native Spain.
Both are youngsters but dramatically different as people. Oliveira comes across as a quiet, thoughtful youngster who will surprise you with his maturity and then suddenly switch to a far more playful side, something you might think was far more becoming of a seventeen-year-old.
Vazquez is the more chatty of the two and is more extroverted, more likely to crack a joke or two. The Spaniard is one of the oldest racers in the Moto3 paddock, but he did arrive late, age wise, in the Moto3 circus. Vazquez is impressively clear about his world and there is a refreshing difference in his approach to racing compared to Oliveira.
Shumi with Miguel Oliveira and Effren Vasquez from Mahindra Racing
OD: How has the bike progressed through the season?
Efren Vazquez: I think Mahindra Racing make a good decision with the all new this season. The bike, the technical, the people, everything is better this season. It is really important in this category because a small gap is a big difference. So, I am happy with this evolution. We need only to improve even more during the season and the rest of the year we will see that the bike is much more competitive than last year or the last year team. So this is the correct way.
Miguel Oliveira: The bike feels like from the beginning of the season till now we didn't really have some big steps and big improvements, we have just worked and improved what we had. Some small steps on the engine. But for sure not a big thing that could make a big difference. So this really shows you bike has big potential without having any big parts in it. Of course, compared to last year, the bike is constantly on top ten which rarely happens last two seasons. We have made a decent job I think, also me and Efren we are capable of being in top five. We are only two riders compared to other brands that are in front of us. They have many riders giving points to them.
OD: What would be the next step for front-running consistently?
MO: First we need to set up the frame. Once the frame is balanced in every track I think we need to think about the engine also. We have good torque on the bottom, but compared to the top guys we lack some torque in the top end power. So first frame and balanced bike to enjoy the engine and to take maximum performance of the engine and then start to think of more torque.
MO: Absolutely, that is our goal when you go racing.
EV: Always needs more. More and more and more. Every time. And this is no secret in the world championship. Improve and then keep working. Evolution, work, everyday. Finally we get a good bike, good solutions and then you need even more.
OD: KTM led in the beginning of the season. Now some of the Hondas have also become competitive. How? Is it the engine? The chassis?
EV: I think little bit of everything. All people continue evolution. Most important is never stop. Continue. Always think same line. In the beginning it was similar performance, but they all work hard and improve. They have a good chassis on the corners, FTR Honda. Honda never stops and they have some fast riders. Specially they see Mahindra is in front so it is critical for him to see both Mahindra's in front. So maybe they have some parts that are better since the last difference.
OD: Where are the Mahindra bikes stronger?
EV: Our bikes have good torque, this is what we have more than others. More than KTM. We have a lot of potential but we need time, tests and kilometres. Because in the racing you can try some different settings. But with the tests only us. Concentrate on the settings and parts.
MO: Torque on the bottom is quite good, even too much. It compromises the balance a little bit of the frame. At the end it is a quality, but we are not getting advantage of it. That's what Efren said we need time on the track so we can find the setting to take advantage of it.
EV: It is difficult to say anything. Only practice in the race weekend no. So go out set fast lap so no time to see if setting is right or correct. We don't have a test driver.
OD: When did you start riding?
EV: Four start riding, racing six.
MO: Instead of giving toys or rubbish, give motorcycles. My father always gave me this compromise. He gave me the bikes but I had to pay him with education. That was kind of the motivation. To ride the motorcycle I had to study. When I was little it was like this. Obviously it's different for different countries. In terms of security and space to ride a motorcycle, we have it a lot. In your country I believe it is not like that. Must be difficult to ride the bike.
OD: How good a student were you at school?
MO: I was quite good. Now I'm in training in university. In medicine.
OD: A doctor racer?
MO: Not so sure about that. It was always the goals to be good at studies. Also I have a sister with me, she is in the same grade. She is always pushing me because she is a good student. Now she is also in medicine.
OD: When do you finish your degree?
MO: Five years from now. It is hard. It's hard to switch off one and switch on other. You don't have time for your mind to adapt. You are in race mode or study mode. It is not easy because because you study to give hope to your future. Racing is passion but if you have crash or something.... So you have to study.
EV: It is difficult but you cannot forget to train. So is very difficult. You have to figure you when you need to study and when you need to train. Because if you don't train then after four laps you are finish.
OD: What sort of training do you do?
EV: Everything. Motocross, super motard, also aerobics. Bicycles.
MO: Everything. But mainly training on the motorcycles is the best. In the gym there is no adrenaline. When you get up on the motorcycle...
EV: You lose this, your mentality is not correct for riding, you lose everything.
EV: I prefer the asphalt.
MO: It depends on the day, I'm not the best rider in motocross. This summer I sold my supermoto bike, so also I prefer track. But it is really fun to ride the motorcycle with friends.
EV: After motocross you need to clean the bike, two hours training, two hours bike. Asphalt is good. You go out, you go in, nothing to clean.
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