Bo Bendsneyder: The TT is always special

In the run-up to the Dutch TT, NTS RW Racing GP brings a daily interview or report to offer a look behind the scenes. Today: Bo Bendsneyder about his career, his season so far and of course about his home race.

“The TT is always special and, as far as I’m concerned, a highlight of the season. From Qatar on I work towards my home race. I am not afraid, on the contrary. Somehow I can always bring something extra there. The TT Circuit suits me well. Especially in the last part the Dutch are always fast: the part from De Bult to the Geert Timmer. A really great section, also because when you come out of Ramshoek, you almost drive straight to the audience. Very spectacular. Depending on your position, you are on the bike with goose bumps. When I was in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies, I still had an advantage, because I was riding a lot in Assen, but you don’t have that advantage in the GPs anymore. My preparation for the TT is not much different than for other races.

I won the TT in the Rookies Cup, but now, in the Moto2, that’s not realistic. Top 10 is a more realistic goal. That would be very nice. The first part of the season did not go too bad, with points twice (Argentina and Texas) and twice almost (sixteenth in Qatar and Jerez). Qualifying and starting are things that I have to work on if I want to get closer to the top. Starting from twentieth place is much more difficult than starting from tenth place. That gives a lot more pressure and tension, it is also harder to catch up.

It is not lack of aggressiveness or a slow reaction at the start, but of the moment of releasing the clutch. I’m training hard for that. Developing the feeling certainly helps. It is just like training to take penalties: you cannot simulate the pressure in the race, but you can let your body and system get used to the actions, so that it becomes easier.

In this sport you always have to deal with pressure and expectations, both from others and from yourself. After my two podium places in my first year of Moto3, everyone was waiting for the first victory, but that was not realistic in the second year. KTM had changed too much on the bikes, I had become longer and heavier and because I had to stay light, I had too little power. I myself knew what was going on, and knew that winning was not realistic, but the outside world finds that difficult to understand.

Last year everyone also thought: “Now that Bendsneyder is in Moto2, now it will happen”, but with the package I had last year, I couldn’t do much. The bike was not further developed and my crew chief was someone who had only gained experience as a data engineer with a junior team. That is why I immediately asked for Hans Spaan as a crew chief when I had the first talks with RW Racing GP.

Hans has a lot of experience. He is no nonsense, says what he thinks. We have had quite a few disagreements, but we can and dare to say everything to each other. I think that it is precisely those discussions that have made us stronger as a team.

This year’s package suits me much better. I like the combination of the NTS frame and the Triumph engine. It feels like a natural machine. It is nice to work with people who have the same ambitions: RW and NTS also want to go to the top.

I feel a lot better on this bike than last year. Sometimes I was so cramped that I forgot to breathe. Now I pay much attention to that: breathe well and stay calm, then the riding is also a lot better. Physically I have become a lot stronger. I rather have more strength and muscle mass than being 2 kilos lighter. I train with the father of a soccer player with whom I attended school. Power training, but also mountain biking, running, working with ropes. Sometimes I train with football players. I like that variety.

What is also very pleasant is that rider coach Alex de Angelis has been closely involved in the development of the machine. He knows how it feels and reacts in certain circumstances. This allows him to make a distinction between something that is down to the rider – that is, to me – or to the settings or the machine. With that knowledge, he can provide specific advice, also in consultation with Hans. I get a lot out of it.

That of course does not mean that it all goes without saying. On Thursday we make a plan for the weekend, in which we discuss various scenarios. Which tires are we going to use at what times, how are we going to organize the training sessions, what are our options with the settings? We make plan A, B and C, but it can always change due to, for example, the temperature, rain or no rain, more or less grip on the track. You have little influence on that, while such details can have a major impact.”

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