Features 29 Aug 2023

Conversation: Senna Agius

European Moto2 leader on 2023 season and world championship ambitions.

With last season marking his first on a Moto2 bike, Senna Agius quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the European Championship, the talented teenager also impressing with a top 10 finish at Valencia in the Moto2 World Championship as a fill-in rider. Switching to the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP Junior Team for 2023, Agius has been dominant and won all but one of the races he has contested in the European series so far, and leads the championship by 20 points despite being ruled out of Catalunya with injury. Agius has also had the opportunity to contest world championship rounds at Jerez and Le Mans as a replacement rider this year, and in this Conversation, he discusses the 2023 season so far, plus his firm ambitions to compete full-time in the MotoGP paddock.

Image: Supplied.

How has the recovery been going following that crash at Catalunya? Also, what have you been up to during the European Championship season break? 

Reco is good, hand is back to 99 percent, still working on getting some mobility into the joints, when you have a fracture near some tendons it can all get a bit stiff, but no it’s all really good. I’ve done a handful of days on the bike, we did one or two little crash tests and it’s safe to say that it is all good. I’m ready for racing when that comes around, still a long wait until… I think it’s another two weeks until we test and five weeks until we race, so plenty of time to get ready. I had a quick surgery done a week later after the race, took some time to decide whether or not we were going to operate, got a quick surgery done in Barcelona and then yeah I’ve been well on my way. So yeah, ready for the next races.

You’ve had the chance to fill-in at the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP team in the Moto2 World Championship this year. With Darryn Binder having that incident in Austria, is there any chance you will be stepping into the team again during the upcoming rounds? 

I’m the same as everyone else, I’m not sure of Darryn’s condition at the moment. I’m waiting to hear, if I get the opportunity to go to Barcelona and whatever other opportunities come up, I’ll take it with both hands. But I’m unsure of Darryn’s state, and we should know more in the next couple of days. But if I can ride the bike, then I’ll be happy to.

Looking at your season so far in the European Championship, how has that lived up to what you expected? From the outside looking in it’s been very impressive, winning every race but one that you’ve contested, but how has that stacked up compared to your expectations coming into it? 

It’s definitely where I saw it, I was going into the season knowing that I put the work in before it to try and hit the ground running, and I knew as soon as I jumped into a new team and picked up everything, like the new things that come with a new team, I thought I could be well on my way. I gelled with the team straight away and I have a good relationship with my crew chief and that is really important. So to go to new situations and put your best foot forward every day comes from the structure around you as well, so it’s a joint effort. Going into the season, I definitely had the championship on my mind, so I am glad that I am in a position to try and wrap it up in the next couple of months.

Image: Supplied.

Speaking on that transition a bit more, what has been the biggest change for you? Obviously, a new team, racing with Promo Racing last year and now the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP Junior Team, but what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to adapt to?

The hardest thing would have to be… Last year, as a first-year rookie, no one expected me to win and I went in as a complete underdog stepping up to a new category and every result I got was like riding a wave as such, I was expected to do nothing. I didn’t have high expectations, so when things started to come around and start rolling, we were all on a confidence boost. You fast-forward a year later, you have in the back of your mind that you want to step up to the world championship in the near future so obviously then you start telling yourself that you need to be a championship contender. So just balancing some expectation with reality throughout the season, this being my second year in the championship, I think we’ve handled it quite well. Like I said, hitting the ground running from round one, but it was definitely just a perspective change on where my career is at, so naturally this year it’s a little bit more pressure to perform and try and wrap up the championship. Now, halfway through the season, we’ve made little to no mistakes other than in Barcelona and I think we got away with the best circumstances on that one, so I’m just ready to wrap up the year in a strong way.

Obviously, the level in the world championship is another step again, but what is the most challenging thing when trying to translate the form you’ve shown in the European championship to the world championship and make that transition there? 

It’s a massive change, it’s just your environment is totally different. The format of progression let’s say is far different, like you have only got FP1, FP2 and FP3 in MotoGP is more or less trying to qualify to get a Q2 spot, so everyone is putting in their tyres at the beginning of the session to try and get a lap time for Q2. It feels like you have really only got two practice sessions and then a qualifying to get into the other qualifying, and now that there is no warm-up, you roll straight into the race. Often or not, you already feel like you are on the back foot and then you feel the time on the bike is next to nothing, then you are on the grid on Sunday – it rolls around way too quick for someone stepping in. That’s how I felt a little bit, until I did a couple and I got used to it, obviously in Valencia we did a good job last year, but it’s very different. Along with that, the bike feels quite a bit different, we run an older model spec just about everything and a more basic electronics package. In MotoGP, the engine, it feels quite a lot different, the tyres are a little different and there are a couple of different spec suspension and chassis. All in one, it’s only the little things but if you put eight little things together that feels quite a fair bit different. That’s something that maybe most people don’t know. It’s just a combination of everything, but it definitely helps when you have a couple on the trot like I did last year, stepping in to just do one and then coming away for a couple of rounds and then doing another definitely is quite a little bit tougher. Just doing the flip, because you also have a flip in teams as well. Different crew chiefs and stuff like that. There’s a couple of things to manage, definitely not easy but definitely where I want to be sometime soon.

With the world championship being the place you want to be sometime soon, is there anything you can share on 2024 and potentially securing a spot there full-time? Is it something within the contract with your team, where if you win the European Moto2 title then you can step up from the junior team to the world championship? 

It’s the absolute ultimate question at the moment. If I can win the European Moto2 Championship it only makes sense that I can hopefully have a spot in Moto2 next year. I think I deserve it, I’ve proved myself this year that I’m willing to do the work consistently and try and be consistently the best version of myself, and I think that deserves to have a spot. It’s tough, I’m just trying to stay present, because if I start thinking about it, I would love to have had something done earlier, like signed off a lot earlier just to have that peace of mind, but I have the best crew around me, I have a really fantastic manager that has my best interest at heart so I am just trying to stay present with my job which is to finish off the European Championship. Hopefully, we have some direction soon and yeah we will get something over the line.