Riding with Redman – Valencia with Senna

Riding with Redman

Hey, I’m Stephanie Redman, a professional motorcycle coach of over 10 years, specialising in working with younger riders. I’ve worked with many juniors over the years including Harry Khouri, Harrison Voight, Jacob Roulstone, Luke Power and of course Senna Agius.

I’ve worked with Senna off and on for the past four years, and mid-way through the 2021 season decided to go full time with the Agius family to help him reach his potential.

Stephanie Redman working with Senna Agius during the 2021 JuniorGP Moto3 Championship
Stephanie Redman working with Senna Agius during the 2021 JuniorGP Moto3 Championship

Welcome to the first of what what I hope you will find informative pieces in what will be a regular series of contributions to MCNews.com.au.

While I will touch on various topics throughout the year, this first instalment will cover the most recent race weekend with Senna, where he contested the second round of the 2022 FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship at Valencia, a series that in previous years was known as the FIM CEV Repsol Moto2 European Championship.


Valencia with Senna

Going into any weekend we know it is never going to be easy, the FIM JuniorGP European Moto2 championship is producing world class riders year on year, however we had previously tested at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia and left with a good set-up and a happy Senna, confidently lapping in the low 1:36’s.

Senna is on one of the newly introduced Triumph engines for 2022, as is Lukas Tulovic, Alex Escrig, and many others, but not all. So, while we knew Senna’s test times were competitive based on the 2021 season of the JuniorGP (Honda engines), we could only assume that the modern Triumph engines would bring lower lap times.

Senna Agius pictured during the second round of the 2022 FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship at Valencia
Senna Agius pictured during the second round of the 2022 FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship at Valencia

With a masterclass from Tulovic two weekends earlier at Estoril leaving Senna in P2 riding a race of his own, we did not know what to expect coming into Valencia. The Moto2 is still very new to Senna and every round, session and lap he is learning something new and making progress.

In the Thursday practise sessions, he worked diligently and finished the day in a good place, lapping similarly to that of the test and certain he could improve further and do 35’s the next day.

Friday is when the nerves come. This is the first official timed practice for the weekend, and we get to see where our hard work has positioned us against the others, and how much more time we need to find. For a young (or any) rider, having a good first session is important because it can set the tone for the weekend.

Senna went out and having not even completed one flying lap pulled back into the pits. He had a small technical problem causing the bike to handle quite differently, so instead of risking it, he decided to pull in.

Senna Agius entering turn one at Valencia
Senna Agius entering turn one at Valencia

We lost 26 minutes while the Promo Racing Team left no stone unturned finding the fault. During this time while they worked on the bike, we saw that Héctor Garzo had gone fastest and put in the first 1:35 of the session. When a problem like this occurs, it can go one of two ways, but instead of stressing, Senna remained calm and focused on the job at hand.

He rolled out of the pits and his first flying lap was within two-tenths of his personal best, the next lap quicker again. This is a testament to the Promo Racing Team, their quality of work and ability to instil confidence in the rider. He then bettered this again, posting a time of 1:35.729 to put him P2 behind Escrig, with Garzo and Tulovic hot on his tail.

Senna Agius leaving the pits for qualifying at Valencia
Senna Agius leaving the pits for qualifying at Valencia

The track temperature in the afternoon session is quite a lot hotter than the morning, resulting in very different levels of traction. This means that the bike set-up and riding style needs to change slightly to accommodate. We experienced a little bit of this in Estoril but did not fully comprehend how much effect this had at Valencia until this session.

Things he could do on the bike previously now needed to change. He adapted well throughout the session and managed P2 again, 0.2 seconds off his previous session time. These hot afternoon sessions were important because these conditions would be most consistent with what we could expect for Sunday’s race.

While we were happy with his one lap pace, consistency on the new tyre in the hot conditions was not as good as the Spanish local, Escrig, and something we needed to continue to improve.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session was once again cooler, and this was going to be the optimum session for putting in a single fast lap. Confident going in, Senna felt he could improve on the previous days 1:35.7 and knew what he had to do. He put in a banker lap of 1:35.639 on old tyres and was ready to improve when the new ones went in.

Senna managed a 1:35.345 early in the stint but with a combination of traffic and a red flag he was not able to improve. When the incident was cleared, he went out with another three laps left to run, trying to bridge the gap to Tulovic and Escrig. Both of which had put in phenomenal laps under Simone Corsi’s Moto2 pole time of 1:34.956 from the 2021 MotoGP. He threw everything at it but ended up either slowed with traffic or over riding the bike and making small mistakes. He finished the session with third place on the grid, with which we were stoked.

Piotr Biesiekirski following Senna at the second round of the 2022 FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship at Valencia
Piotr Biesiekirski following Senna at the second round of the 2022 FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship at Valencia

In the second qualifying session there was a chance for an improvement in his time, but it was unlikely due to the hotter track conditions, so the main focus was to get a good working set up for the 19-lap race. The bike continued to get better as did Senna’s riding and of the top three, he was the only rider able to get close to his lap time from Q1.

We were confident in his ability to perform on old and new tyres in the hot conditions, but with Escrig’s consistency over the two days we believed he would be the man to beat.

We went into Sunday confident for a podium and hopeful at the possibility for the win. In Estoril, the weakest part of our race was the start, which Senna and the team had been dialling in all weekend. With improved confidence for the start and a strong package for race distance, we were excited to see what Senna could do. Unfortunately, from here the rest is history.

Stephanie Redman with Senna Agius on the grid at Valencia round of the 2022 Moto2 European Championship
Stephanie Redman with Senna Agius on the grid at Valencia

Senna managed a great start, slipping into third through the first turn with Escrig taking the hole shot from second on the grid. It seemed Tulovic also knew of Escrig’s pace and was worried about him getting away at the front, making an inside pass into turn two.

This pushed Escrig a little wide and Senna was able to capitalise, following Tulovic through to take second place. Riding behind Tulovic he quickly realised that he had quite good pace. Senna decided he would take the lead and try to run his own pace at the front, lining up a beautiful move out of turn three and passing up the inside into turn four.

Immediately he started to pull a gap on second place, but he unfortunately couldn’t know this. He continued to push until the front end let go in turn 12.

Senna Agius in second place here and lining up a move on Lukas Tulovic at the Valencia round of the 2022 Moto2 European Championship
Senna Agius in second place here and lining up a move on Lukas Tulovic at Valencia

Crashing out of the lead is never ideal but we learn.” – Senna Agius stated on social media after reflecting on what could have been his first win in the FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship.

And learn we will. The track temperature for the race was the hottest he had ridden all weekend; the crash was a result of pushing slightly too much for the grip available. To put this into perspective, the difference between the previous lap where he made it through safely and the crash, was a tiny bit less brake and 1 km/h more speed in the middle of the turn. To ride at the front of this class is riding that close to the limit. 

No one was more disappointed than Senna himself, but while he applauded his team mate receiving a third place trophy from none other than Pedro Acosta himself, he said to me, “I guess it’s like Pedro crashing out of the lead at Le Mans.” Just an inexperienced rookie caught out.

Overall, I am stoked with his performance and maturity. We will take everything we learned this weekend and continue to grow and fight again at the next round in Barcelona on the 11th & 12th of June.


2022 FIM JuniorGP Moto2 European Championship

Pos Rider Nat Man. Points
1 LUKAS TULOVIC DEU TRIUMPH 75
2 ALEX ESCRIG ESP KALEX 45
3 SENNA AGIUS AUS KALEX 40
4 ALEX TOLEDO ESP KALEX 37
5 MATTIA RATO ITA KALEX 35
6 XAVIER CARDELÚS AND KALEX 27
7 YERAY RUIZ ESP KALEX 22
8 ALEX RUIZ ESP YAMAHA 18
9 KYLE PAZ PHL KALEX 16
10 EDUARDO MONTERO ESP KTM 14
11 ANGELO TAGLIARINI ITA BOSCOSCURO 13
12 SAM WILFORD GBR TRIUMPH 11
13 TOMMASO MARCON ITA KALEX 10
14 ROBERTO GARCÍA ESP KALEX 10
15 MARCO TAPIA ESP YAMAHA 9
16 NICOLAS CHRIS CZYBA DEU YAMAHA 9
17 PIOTR BIESIEKIRSKI POL KALEX 8
18 DINO IOZZO ITA YAMAHA 8
19 MIGUEL PONS ESP BREVO 7
20 KEVIN ORGIS DEU YAMAHA 4
21 RYAN VAN DE LAGEMAAT NLD YAMAHA 2

 


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