OD: The win at Silverstone was the highlight of last season for you. Talk us through that.
SR: It feels amazing, since Silverstone is my home grand prix and to win the race with all the home livery on the bike, the leathers and the helmet was really good, and also a lot of people expected me to win so I had a lot of pressure. So to make the victory like that for me was absolutely amazing.
OD: How was it like handling the pressure from the home crowd?
SR: I look at the pressure like confidence, I donât take it negatively because the fans are there for me and I need to realise that and I take this to my advantage, not negative like too much pressure, I always think like these guys are here to protect me and let me do my best job on the track.
OD: The accident at Phillip Island last year changed things in the championship quite a lot.
SR: Yes it was the lowest point in the year for me, it was the first time I ever broke a bone in my body and broke it at the most important time in my career. It was hard for me to take, as I wanted to race the next day but the doctor said no, so I wanted to go to Japan and still theyÂ didn’tÂ want me to. But still I was trying, I still had a fighting chance if I can make some points and then go to Valencia, who knows. So I gave in my best even with the injury and I canât really say it was bad because we still finished second at the end of the championship and everyone knows that we were strong this year.
OD: Do you think going into MotoGP as reigning champion would have the potential to make your 2014 season different?
SR: I donât really think it would have been much different because the deal (with Gresini Honda) was already secured. We already knew what was happening, of course it would have been nice to go there with a world title under one arm, but okay we didnât make it. We tried our best, unfortunately we didnât take the title but it makes no difference for me going there as a champion or second because you have to leave that behind and focus on the future. Of course I am disappointed with second, everyone wants to win.
OD: Your team-mate Alvaro Bautista has been in MotoGP for three years. How do you think it will be going against someone with such experience?
SR: We will see how it goes, we are in two different categories, he is on a factory bike and I am on a production bike. So I am not really expecting to battle with him in the early part of the season. He is doing his job and I am doing mine and I want do it as best as I can do, and my focus isnât really on our battle, so we have to get along see how we are with each other and just go racing.
OD: Do you get along with Alvaro?
SR: Yes I have seen him a couple of times, we went to Texas Boot Camp he was there, we donât really speak that much but he seems a really nice guy.
OD: You said you want to be the top rider in the production bike class in 2014. How do you think that is going to go and who is your competition?
SR: Thatâs my target; I want to be at the top in the production bike category because I have the same bike as the other racers. I can only try my best, I cannot really push too much in this because I am not going to win the world title race. Maybe like winning the CRT or production races and thatâs my target. And if we give one hundred per cent in every race there is no reason why canât we be pushing with the guys in the front like Nicky Hayden and Aleix Espargaro.
OD: You have raced with and beaten Marc Marquez in the past. Do you see yourself battling him in 2014?
SR: For the first year itâs not possible because the bikes are different, but thatâs my future target to get a factory bike and be battling with this guy. We have battled before and many people can see our battle. I have a small disadvantage with the weight, but with a big bike I donât think this makes such a difference. We just have to see in a few years, the first year is not my target, it is Marcâs. We two have different levels of bikes, I will try to make the best results with the bike I have.
OD: What are the advantages or disadvantages that are caused by weight?
SR: Being bigger is harder, there is more weight to carry. It is harder in the hot weather, the bikes are a little bit slower. Itâs not a very big difference as I have always been bigger and I have learned to live with it. But the main thing is the speed of the bike when you are racing with someone like Marc who weighs nothing; he always gets the advantage in the straights. So it helps you on the big bike with more leverage for my size to change directions, it can help into my advantage.
OD: A lot of racing series add ballast in the vehicles to ensure that the weight of the rider plus machine is same across the grid, do you think Moto GP would benefit from something like this?
SR: We have it in Moto 2, the minimum weight is someone like Espargaro with 66kg and I am 76kg, so it is 10 kg of a difference, which is no different to the year before. But yes they should introduce such rules because a kilo is a kilo. Itâs like if you try to carry 10 litres of water at the back and try to race, itâs harder. So they should do something because I am a big rider as well. We just have to see in the future because I know many riders who have gone to serious extent to stay thin, but the problem is that we need to stay thin but also strong so that guys can be really strong for the bike because if not then you can struggle a bit in the hot conditions.
OD: Apart from the British races, whatâs your favorite circuit.
SR: I like Qatar because itâs a night race and really fast. Mugello also if you are in a good rhythm in it, itâs really nice and flowing. To be fair I like all the circuits, the only circuit I didnât like was Estoril in Portugal, was really slow in places and I didnât like it, but we donât race here now so I like all the tracks.
OD: We see you have a lot of tattoos.
SR: This one (the rose) Â is about the life of a rider. Many people think that riders donât have feelings and stuff, but actually we do, because we are human. So one part of my tattoo is the riding side and the other is the life side, trying to put it together. The other one (the stopwatch) is like always against the time, trying to beat yourself. I have it on number 48 for Tomiâs (Shoya Tomizawa) honour and also my number inside. Other one says âDonât count your race, make every race countâ. Itâs like sometimes in the past I finished a race and thought that I should have done this, I should have done that. Last year I finished a race and didnât say that, instead I said âOkay I did everythingâ. So on race days you give everything. I have one tattoo on my chest, thatâs for my grandparents and that was my first one, I lost them in 2010, I was getting into my Moto2 career so I had something for them and that one means a lot to me and is very close to my heart.
OD: Whatâs your next tattoo?
SR: I will build these tattoos into a sleeve and may be extending it to the chest, I have many ideas.
OD: You always seem to ride at 100 percent. Do you think everyone rides like that?
SR: Not every rider rides at hundred percent because they wonât last for long. Marc is always riding really close to the edge all the time but he feels comfortable. I prefer to be fast but leave like some five percent for the safety to try and finish the race and need to the get the points. Espargaro is quite an aggressive rider, like I used to be, but I had to calm down a bit. Then we have riders like Simone Corsi and Jorge Lorenzo who donât look like they are trying but everyone really is pushing the limit.
OD: You will be heading into production racing this year, but where will you want to be next?
SR: I would like to do the production races this year, then get the factory bike even with Gresini and if I get into the factory bike then in future I would want to go to Repsol.