RRX: You’re officially halfway into your first season on the Grand Prix tour. What are your impressions so far?
Stevie Bonsey: So far it’s been good. I’ve had some crashes and hard times, though. The learning curve is pretty steep, with me coming from no road racing. My first race on a 125 was actually my first GP race, so that was kind of tough. I’m starting to learn, but it’s a tough class, you know? Not everyone can do it, and I’m just hoping I can get up to the bigger level and learn as much as I can this year and then come back strong next year.
You’re only 17 years old now, and it must be strange to be away from home, away from your friends and all. Are you looking forward to going home during summer break?
Yeah, for sure. I miss my friends, my girlfriend, my dad, my dog, you know … I also miss trail riding, motocross, going to the movies. Just normal stuff. I miss California, Mexican food, Taco Bell. I really miss the simple stuff. When you’re at home and you have nothing to do, you just take it all for granted, and now that I’m not there all the time, just to go home for a week would be nice.
Speaking of California, the 125 and 250cc classes aren’t racing at the Red Bull USGP.
No, unfortunately not, but I want to. I’ll definitely go, though. I live only five or ten minutes away, so I’ll be there.
You had a crash streak going for a while there. What was the deal with that?
Man, I don’t know! I’m usually not a crasher; that’s the strange thing. In qualifying, I never get off, you know? I’m always going pretty good. Usually in the race, I start feeling comfortable and getting into it, and the tires might be a little bit cold, and I just twist the throttle and high-side or tuck the front. I’m just always having trouble. But I’m trying to back off a little bit, maybe five percent, and just try to finish the race. I think it’s more important to get some laps in and learn than risk hurting myself early in the season.
Donington went pretty well for you though, right?
It was okay. I think it could have been better. I didn’t much care for the track; it was a little bit strange, especially in the rain. It was really slippery. I’m usually not so bad in the rain, but I didn’t feel good there. But coming to the race, I made a tire choice that was kind of bad, because the track started a little bit wet. We went with intermediate tires, and then it dried completely out, so I lost a little bit of time there.
What will it take for you to be happy with your race here at Assen?
If it rains, for sure I’d like to get in the top ten. If it stays dry, I’d like to be in the top 15. I’ve done it before, in Jerez, and I think I could do it as long as I get off the start good and stay away from all the commotion that goes on in the back and just put in some hard laps. (Ed. Note: Race day was dry and Bonsey finished 27th.)
You’re so new to road racing, and it’s kind of crazy to me that you’re out there racing on the Grand Prix circuit already. Are you figuring stuff out each time you go out on the track?
Yeah. I was actually noticing that today in the beginning of warm-ups. The turn 1 reminds me of China, and in China I was having trouble with that because you have to turn into the turn on the brakes and I was just a little uncomfortable with it. Now I’m pretty good at it. I’m actually faster than my teammates in T1. But yeah, learning this is quite difficult, coming from dirt track, where you steer with the rear. Now it’s just complete traction—too much traction sometimes. I just try to learn.
Are your teammates showing you the ropes at all?
Not so much. We’re teammates, and we talk a little bit, but I think it’s kind of a teammate rivalry deal. They’ve been here for a few years, but I just have to learn it on my own. They’ll talk to me and say little things, but they don’t want to give away and secrets I’m sure.
You were living in Spain for a while, but now you’re in the UK. Which do you prefer?
I was in Spain for two months and it wasn’t so good. I didn’t much care for it. Of course the weather wasn’t so good, either; it was always raining. Now Spain is beautiful, hot and sunny, and I’m staying in the UK and it’s just raining every day. I guess I switched at the wrong time!
Do you like the UK, though?
Yeah, I do. It makes me feel not so far away from home, because they speak English, obviously. Spain was completely different and I just felt so far from home. Now I’m in Banbury, England, and I like it. I live with a family in a little village with, like, 200 people at the most. I’ve met quite a few of them, and some of them came to Donington last week. I’ve been meeting people, and that also makes me feel a little bit more comfortable. In Spain, I didn’t really meet anybody. I definitely like the UK better.
Well, good luck, Stevie, and enjoy your time off in the States this summer.