Debut victory for Aki Ajo and his team in MotoE World Cup. At the Sachsenring the driver of the Ajo team MotoE he also won by taking pole position and the fastest lap in the race. In this interview, the team director tells how they achieved such an extraordinary result.
When and how did you decide to create a team for the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup?
"We were approached by Dorna and IRTA about the new series, and we jumped at the chance to be among the first ones to race in this new and thrilling competition, so after the initial talks the decision was made quite fast. We are really happy and excited to be part of this new championship."
What difficulties have you encountered in the technical development of the MotoE bike?
“The bikes are already at a good level, as we could already see from the first Sachsenring race. We worked on the normal set-up adjustments, learned how the bike works and how to best use it with our rider. "
The MotoE bikes require different maintenance procedures than conventional bikes. How is the equipment being prepped for racing?
"From our perspective the basic work is actually quite normal racing work: we keep the bikes in good condition, check mechanical details and so on, besides preparing the set-up, while the bike manufacturer and series organiser make sure that we have the bikes ready for each event. So our main duties include quite normal preparations, as well as thinking about the set-up range to be used and so forth."
In a championship which is so evenly regulated and technically matched, how can you make a difference competitively?
“For us, working with the riders has always been important, and this series highlights it in a particular way. The bikes are the same for everyone, so we are very keen to work with the rider to best assist him and provide him with a set-up to express his best potential. "
How do you select a rider for a brand new championship? What relevant qualities did you see in Niki Tuuli?
"I think the same basic qualities apply in a new championship as well. Niki has a positive working attitude, he has a good feel for the bike and how the machine reacts to his input. Furthermore, he is a strong match with our team, so we can help each other to find the best performance from the rider and the bike. Niki is also someone who listens and is willing to take feedback and develop, which is very important, especially in a new championship."
At Sachsenring Ajo MotoE competed in the first round of the championship. How did the team approach the weekend and what challenges did you face?
"The first-ever race started in sort of mixed track conditions, so I think this was the main challenge, but other than that things went really well. We did our homework, so we thought that we should be quite ready. From the tests we had an idea on how to begin the weekend. Afterwards, really you need to work from there, with the conditions that are coming up along the way, at any given weekend. However, if you are prepared and you have some clues on how to work in different conditions, this helps of course."
Did you expect to see such a close race with so much overtaking?
“I thought there would be some tight races, because the bikes are similar and the riders are very strong and experienced, but I didn't imagine this was the intensity of the race, it was a surprise. For me the race was exciting. "
All the hard work on this new project paid off in Germany, where Niki Tuuli got the E-Pole and the first victory in the championship. How do you assess his progress since he joined the team?
"Niki has worked really hard: he has been happy to learn new things and listen to our staff to get more information. He was already fast in the tests, but I see he has developed especially in understanding the bike. He not only listens to the team but he also listens to the bike, which is what he needs to go fast."
In the first race the team set a high bar. How will you approach the rest of the season? What are the objectives of the team?
“It's the first season of the MotoE, and we are learning more and more. Clearly we aim to be as forward as possible, and try to do our best to win; this is why we compete naturally. It is important to remember that anything can happen and that the other teams and their drivers are also doing a great job, so we have to keep working at our best level. I hope this commitment will be rewarded in the end. "