Toni, happy 34th birthday. How do you plan to celebrate it?
“It’s difficult to celebrate things now, but I would like to do something with my friends. I will almost certainly have a day on a motorcycle with them here in this off-road area. I’ll try to have a great day, keeping the required distance.”
Looking back, what do you remember about the road you’ve travelled so far?
“I remember a journey in which we have enjoyed ourselves a lot, and that has been full of successes; I could never in my life have imagined everything we have achieved. What we have to do is enjoy all that and now also enjoy this birthday.”
Do you think that your 28 titles are something anyone can beat?
“Challenges and goals are there to be overcome. In my case, I had never imagined that I would be here. I always said that my dream was to be World Champion, and everything has come from there. Why not? I’m sure that someone will beat the record.”
What would be your best race and your best title of your 28?
“I would say last year’s race in Japan, in which I managed to ride with 0 penalties. It was a race at the home of Honda in 2019; It was a very good race for us, because we were at the start of the season and still picking up the pace. I felt very good and it was a very good season, in which we took all the victories. As for indoors, I would go with Barcelona for sure, perhaps in 2006 -which was the first time I was able to compete at the Palau Sant Jordi and took victory in front of all our fans. It’s one of the best moments of my career.”
Which is your favourite title of the 28?
“It would almost certainly be the first, right? But since I didn’t clinch it by competing -since a race was cancelled-, perhaps I would say last year’s, which was the first time I won all the races in the outdoor World Championship. I felt very comfortable , I had no injuries and it was a perfect year.”
In a year as different as this one, what have you found hardest to overcome?
“I think the break was difficult, and after that competing without fans present reminds you all the time what is happening -and that it really is an atypical year. This situation means that any mistake can leave you out of contention. In a month and a week we did 8 races and you could not afford to get injured, you could not have anything break on the bike. Any little mistake would leave you out of the fight for the title, so it kept the tension going.”
What have your few defeats taught you?
“I am very realistic and I always go to the races thinking that you start from zero. It is very easy to lose. I am a very competitive rider, and when I lose – and I’m honestly not very used to that – I pay attention to mistakes and look at why I made more errors than other days. I try to analyse it. Losing is always good for an athlete and helps you to improve.”
What does the number 30 tell you?
“It’s something that we can achieve next year. It is a number that I have always been avoiding, because people have asked me about it for years and I have always seen it as far away, but after this year, with how competitive I am, I know that if next year the two championships can be held despite COVID-19, that will be our goal and we will try to fight to get that number.”