Earlier this month Viessmann Kiefer Racing pilot Vladimir Leonov got together with friends, fans and journalists to answer their questions.

The event took place at the Drive House biker club. Vladimir expanded on his MotoGP debut and the first three races in Qatar, Japan and Spain. He also shared his impressions about the hardships he has suffered as a MotoGP pilot, i.e. the peculiarities of the circuit surface on sunny and rainy days, the difficulties of riding a bike, the bike’s own individual temper, the atmosphere at the circuit and the championships in general, as well as how amazing it is to be among motorbike stars, and of course, the pressure that results from all of these things.

“I would describe the atmosphere at the championship itself as very friendly; I feel good being among world-class motorcyclists. But once the race starts, all the people who have been your friends become your competitors and the real fight begins.

It was very difficult, even in Jerez, where the circuit was familiar to me, as we had test rides there earlier. The hardest part is usually getting your bike adjusted to the circuit, and myself too, unless I am familiar with it. I was extremely nervous before the first race. But then I just concentrated on the circuit and the bike and my only thought was that I must move further. The circuit was new to me, the race was at night, I had the constant feeling that the circuit was getting narrower and narrower, that someone was trying to pass me by, and it was all very scary. The first round was extremely difficult for me. The whole circuit was too; all the turns were similar to each other, and the only thing you saw was the road ahead, and nothing else. You know, there’s a huge difference between the circuit in the nighttime and in the daytime.

I was specially preparing for this season, so, of course, it was easier for me than last year. But another difficulty was that I’ve never ridden more than 15 rounds at once. Super Stock had 12 rounds, IDM – 15, and MotoGP is twice as much. So, I can say that I felt okay in the first half of the race, but then the bike won’t let you catch the second wind and once you begin to slow down, the bike just kills you. You have to strain every nerve for the entire race, and that way you do move forward; once you relax you are like a stone being dragged down to the seabed. Just right away. So, you constantly have to be there fighting with the bike as you accelerate or slow down. You hold it tight, because once you relax, the only consequences are either a fall or a mistake. And the bike never forgives your mistakes; it always ends up with a fall. If you made a mistake at a small curve, you may have enough time to stay in the race, but if it’s a big turn, be ready to slide down the gravel. Bikes with small engine volumes are very hard to slow down. It wasn’t a problem for me to break on 600cc bikes. But here, the bike just keeps on going and you can’t make it stop.”

Born on April 26, 1987 in Donetsk, the Rostov region (Russia), Vladimir Leonov currently lives in Moscow. He loves motocross, mountain skiing, snowboarding, jogging, music, and bicycles. He has been involved in moto sport activities since the impressive age of 12. At the age of 14, Vladimir participated in the Championship of Russia with his 80cc bike. In 2004, he received the amateur motocross Russian Cup in the under 125cc class. A mere year later, in 2005, he received the Cup in the under 250cc class. Since late 2006, Vladimir has been a member of the Vector Racing Team and he participated in the Superstock 600 class. Several MotoGP teams noticed Vladimir’s impressive results. Ultimately, this all made it possible for Vector Racing Team to strike a deal with Viessmann Kiefer Racing, allowing Vladimir Leonov to be part of it in MotoGP 2009, class 250cc.

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