Features 12 Sep 2023

Fast Thoughts: Luke Power

Motozoo WorldSSP Challenge racer on transition to competing in Europe.

Building, learning and making progress has been the goal of Motozoo ME Air Racing’s Luke Power this season as he debuts in the European rounds of the Supersport World Championship, recently completing the latest outing at Magny-Cours with his first WorldSSP Challenge victory. The Australian teenager made the step to the world stage after competing and scoring podiums in the MotoAmerica Supersport Championship last year, and features in this latest Fast Thoughts interview.

Image: Supplied.

Making the step to the WorldSSP Challenge this year…

It’s my first year in the world championship and it is obviously a massive step. Everyone knows that it is a big step, and everyone sort of acknowledges that it is a big step, but I certainly didn’t realise the severity and just how big of a step it truly is. It’s not just the riding that’s such a big step, it’s how the people work, how the people are, how the lifestyle is, everyone is so different and such a big… Not even such a big change, just everything is so advanced and difficult and fast really over here. I certainly didn’t expect it to be as big a change as it has been, but yeah this year I mean the goal at the start was to just find a starting point in my first race at Assen, and just build off from there. I mean goal achieved already, we started in Assen and disregarding the position we were a couple of seconds a lap off the front guys, and every time we have gone to a new track I have been able to make steps in my riding, and adapt to the way that the European’s ride, and the way that I need to ride the bike to maximise the performance of the package that I have. Every time that I have gone out, like I said, we have been making big, big steps and I mean Most last round was a great example, we were only 1.5s off of [Nicolo] Bulega in qualifying, this round [Magny-Cours] we were only 1.8s I think or 2s off Bulega. Every time we go out, we are making big steps, my race on the weekend was an example of that. The late race pace especially is really, really good. There are still some things I need to work on personally at the beginning of the race to maximise the new tyre, which is something I have had to do coming from domestic championships. It’s all a big learning curve, there are different things you have to learn and try to piece together in this big new puzzle, but we are slowly getting there.

Key to making progress in your first season in the category at this level…  

The weekend sort of starts before the actual weekend with studying tracks, studying previous races, studying track maps, going through data with the team from previous years, just trying to be as prepared as possible before the first session. It is always a big help for me anyways. That really helps the first session obviously, but even in the sessions after because when you are familiar and prepared with as much information as possible, not only is the first session a lot better but you have also got a higher platform to sort of leap from for the following sessions after that. Obviously, in terms of the weekend, working with the team really closely, studying all of the data and the analytics of the race and the times, where I have done well, where I have improved, where I can still do better, where my weaknesses still are. There’s not always a straight line to every goal, or a straight line to the next step, is there? Sometimes you have got to zig and zag a little bit. There’s always little fine-tuning stuff, and we are always making changes with set up, trying to get a little more comfortable and a little bit easier to adapt again. I’m always pushing to try and change stuff with my riding, and you know follow faster riders, like you see the likes of [Marc] Marquez and all of that do in GP. Just trying to study and soak up as much information as I can, because for me, that is what this year is about, most especially, just following the experienced guys, trying to soak up as much information, not only from the people in my team and all of the information and all of the experience they have got, but also from the other riders, like my teammate Tom Both-Amos and the other riders on the grid as well. That’s what I have been trying to focus on a lot in this middle part of the year especially.

Image: Supplied.

Importance of using MotoAmerica as a stepping stone to reach the World Championship… 

It’s super, super important. Before MotoAmerica I hadn’t actually had a full-season on a motorbike full-stop since 2019 in the Asia Talent Cup. Obviously, we had covid in 2020 and 2021 which affected our championships, and I only got three rounds on the ZX-6 in Australia before going to MotoAmerica. MotoAmerica was extremely important, because I learned so much about myself, about my riding. Obviously, the level in America is different to Australia, it is a little bit higher and also the way that they work is very different again. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. The adaptations that I had to go through last year were obviously difficult, but it’s been a big part in helping me this year as well, learning to be able to try and adapt as fast as possible and change things that I do constantly, both at the track and away from the track, on the bike, off the bike, in order to maximise everything that happens during a weekend. Last year was massively important in that aspect, and it’s still improving obviously every race week, but I think it is starting to show a lot more now.

Potential for an Australian Supersport cameo on a Kawasaki… 

The World Supersport Championship is obviously my priority of course, but it all depends really, as for next year, nothing is confirmed at this point. My off-season is largely affected by contracts, agreements, everything like that. Everything in the agreement affects what you do away from the track right? It would affect what manufacturer bike I’m on, it would affect if I’m working with someone, everything like that. As of now, I’m not sure about ASBK, but I would definitely like to make a return and do the last round for sure, if it is a possibility with the plans for next year this off-season.

WorldSSP Challenge and fitting into your career pathway… 

Of course, the ultimate goal is to be racing in MotoGP with the best of the best, best of the best teams, best of the best bikes, best of the best everything. Realistically in the next couple of years, it is unlikely to happen. I am still quite young, I have got a long way to go but for sure next year the goal is to race in the full world championship, and my manager Michael Hill is working hard to try and organise to make sure I can do the full world championship next year, which I am very grateful for. The plan is obviously to race the full world championship, we will see what happens, I can’t confirm anything yet as I don’t have any information for you guys, but yeah that is definitely the plan. The years after will of course be affected by what happens next year. At this point, I am sort of taking everything one year at a time, but there are plenty of pathways to get from WorldSSP to MotoGP, and that depends if the stars align and all of the cards are played right. It’s a really complicated sort of pathway, I don’t like sort of trying to plan it all because things are so uncertain in our world, aren’t they? We will see, but the goal is definitely to get to GP and I’d like to get there as soon as possible, but we will see how soon that is.