One of the best riders in the first 2018 World Supersport 300 races is Luca Grünwald, riding for KTM Freudenberg. Born in 1994, the German rider currently lays second in championship standings with 45 points, 3 less than Ana Carrasco, especially thanks to the amazing win achieved at Assen.
Grünwald is not just one of the many riders competing in the championship, but he’s one of the most experienced ones. After being German Champion in 125cc (2010) and Moto3 (2012), in 2013 “Lui #43” scored some podium finishes in IDM Supersport and towards the end of the year he debuted in Moto3 World Championship with Kiefer Racing as replacement rider of injured Florian Alt. After contesting the whole 2014 season with the same team (but without great results), Grünwald went back to IDM and switched to 1000cc. In 2015 and 2016 he got many good results in Superstock 1000 and last year he went to Superbike class with Suzuki Mayer, with which he scored many top-10 results and some top-5 ones on the new GSX-R 1000. This year Grünwald decided to go from IDM Superbike to World Supersport 300 and this change, despite being a bit “unusual”, is giving him good results: 9th place at Aragon, win at Assen and 4th place at Imola.
We interviewed Luca Grünwald to speak of several topics, including his season so far and the difficulties WorldSSP300 is experiencing, due to continuous rule changes and some criticism. Here’s what he said.
After the first three 2018 races you can already boast one win. Did you expect to start so well?
I knew I could be fast in this championship, but I didn’t expect to win. Assen race was very crazy, with many overtakes and aggressive moves, but at the last lap I found myself in the right place at the right time and with a couple of overtakes, and also thanks to some other riders’ mistakes, I went from sixth to first and won. It was fantastic and I remember this race with much happiness.
You come from IDM Superbike. How did you prepare for the switch from 1000cc to 300cc?
I tried to ride many different kinds of motorbike, including supermoto and motocross, and then I used Aragon tests to adapt to KTM.
Can you tell us the reason of this change?
I was supposed to remain in IDM, but after the end of last season it was likely to disappear and in the meantime I was offered a seat in WorldSSP300 by KTM Freudenberg. I thought it would have been a good idea for my career and so I accepted their proposal. Moreover, already in that moment I believed KTM was competitive and I think the results scored so far can prove it.
Lately Dorna has received much criticism for changing constantly the rules about rev limiter and minimum weight, to balance performance after Yamaha’s complaints.
I think they should have done a balanced and fair technical regulation already before the start of the season, but in my opinion the settings imposed at Assen (later changed at Imola, ed) were relatively very good. Their main mistake is changing the rules at every race: it leads to a complex situation for all of us, because there’s no transparency and you never know what to expect.
At Assen, and especially at Imola, we saw many bad crashes and some riders suffered quite serious injuries. Do you think we have a problem?
I don’t think so, to be honest. The level of this category is very high and the fight is very close, so it’s normal that it happens. Furthermore, most of the riders racing in this championship are young and unexperienced and maybe this is the reason why we have so many crashes.
In 2014 you raced in Moto3 World Championship with Kiefer Racing. What are your memories of that season?
It was a wonderful season, during which I learnt a lot and grew both as a rider and as a person. The results were not positive. However, I had a lot of fun and I keep being grateful for this great opportunity.
Last year you raced in IDM on the new Suzuki GSX-R 1000, a bike that should join WorldSBK field. What do you think about it?
I had a positive season on the Suzuki. It’s fast, balanced and very well-developed in many sectors. I believe that, with a good team and a good rider, it can score great results also in World Championship.
Do you prefer Superbike or MotoGP?
I like them, because they both represent the highest niveau of motorcycle racing. However, I think it’s more difficult and challenging to ride a MotoGP.
Are you happy with your career so far?
Yes, I’m happy with how it has gone, but I believe it can go even better. My goal for the next seasons is to keep riding on the world stage and I really hope that one day I will get to a top class.