Everybody knows Mike Di Meglio as the 125cc world champion in 2008. This year he is back in the world championship, in the MotoE class. I got the podium at the first race, in Germany. The Frenchman tells to the online magazine https://moto-station.com how he approached this new bike. Here are some paragraphs from the original text in French.
Did you feel competitive from the first laps with the MotoE?
In Jerez (the location of the first tests - editor's note) it went very well, but in Valencia, I was a little behind the top riders (here the results of the preseason tests). When I arrived at the Sachsenring, I immediately realized that I was among the best, and this reassured me. We are all very close, and if you do not improve a little at each session, you quickly find yourself in a backward position.
Do you expect the level and hierarchy to change a lot during the next races?
We see that, from the beginning, Niki Tuuli, Hector Garzo, Eric Granado, Bradley Smith and I were the most regular. These are the 5 names that have so far distinguished themselves in the group.
What do you reply to people who have a preconceived idea of electric bikes?
That they are a motorcycle, of course, they don't make any noise. At the Sachsenring, the race was a bit complicated because there were no portable units to recharge the bikes on the track (they will be available from the GP in Austria - editor's note). The race should have been of 9 laps, but it was reduced by one lap for this reason. Due to the damp track, we went to 7 laps to be able to do 2 warm-up laps. And then we only did five laps due to a damaged air-fence. So, in the end, the race became very short, but the people who saw it had a good impression because we are fast and it is possible to hear noises that you are not used to, like the tyres on the curbs, the knee that touches the asphalt.
We have seen very worn tyres at the end of the race, what was the reason?
Last year we were offered a medium tyre that required two warm-up laps and had a duration of 15 laps. Then they brought us this soft tyre that can do between the 8 and the 10 rides. Because we have a new tyre in every session, we preferred the soft tyre performance.
Is the management of the motor torque difficult without any traction control?
Whoever developed the bike did a good job. The power comes gradually, the engine brake is fine. The only difficult thing is that you can't hear it when the bike starts to slide because you don't hear the engine revving up. So the rider must be able to perceive when the bike is sliding without using hearing. This can easily lead to a highside.
Is it a return to the past with the pilot managing the opening of the gas?
Yes, in slow corners it is so, you have to manage the drift with the accelerator. The bike has 130 HP, it is not very powerful and weighs 260 kg but has a lot of torque.
Did you like the E-pole format?
Yeah, it's nice. Some riders complained, but others improved their time from the previous day. It's a new concept, you just have to be ready, get used to it. E-pole is very important to be well placed on the grid, because if you are far away, it is very difficult to recover.
Is overtaking so difficult?
All the riders are still looking for the right suspension setup and this is a limit for now. For me it is important to drive smoothly. The races are very short, if you are far on the starting grid and you make a mistake at the beginning, you have almost lost the race, you cannot make crazy comebacks. The gap will tighten more and more as we go forward and it will be increasingly difficult to overtake.
The full interview in French with Mike Di Meglio is available at this link.