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My 2020 Moto2: In depth with Petronas' Jake Dixon

Despite the obvious chaos, uncertainty and disruption endured throughout the past 12 months, 2020 was proving to be an important and successful year for Jake Dixon in Moto2 as the young Brit moved away from his challenging rookie season on the KTM to a promising start with the Petronas SRT team.

Relearning the tracks aboard his Kalex steed, the 24-year-old rose through the field as the season progressed, securing four top ten results and a best finish of fourth overall, before a dramatic highside during the first FP2 at Valencia put paid to the Kent rider’s podium-chasing progress.

The severely fractured right wrist was operated on in mid-November to reattach the damaged ligaments, and with wires pinning the broken bones, Dixon was told any movement could derail the recovery progress.


Interested to hear what he thought of his 2020 rollercoaster season and how much he was looking forward to returning to action with the Petronas team, bikesportnews.com caught up with him a week before the follow-up operation to find out how the injury was healing:

“There’s not a lot I can really do at the moment, with the wrist, other than sit around! I get my wires out on the 21st [December], so I’m looking forward to getting them out and seeing what sort of movement I actually have in my right wrist.

“It was pretty badly smashed and I’m not allowed to do anything with it. It’s in a form of cast so I can’t bend it at all - if I bend it in any slight way it will make the situation ten times worse because I’ve got wires in it and they’re out of the skin - so yeah it’s not ideal!”

Dixon is known as an energetic and enthusiastic character - he’s basically the ‘Tigger’ of the paddock - so sitting still has never really been his strong point. With that in mind, how is he finding the current restrictions to his training schedule?

“I can do lower body and I have started doing some lower body but I’m limited to what I can do because I’m not allowed to sweat! So I have to train until I start to sweat and then I have to stop. So I just feel like I’m getting fat!

“The good thing is we have a lot of time, I think my first test is 3rd/4th March so I have two full months to get ready which is plenty enough.”

Lewis Hamilton, among others, has been very vocal in recent years about is vegan lifestyle and its positive effects on his energy levels, stamina and body composition. Dixon, likewise, has a healthier-than-most way of life thanks to the plant-based diet he follows with wife Sarah - the 36-year-old has an impressive food blog and Instagram page devoted to her culinary talents - but does he think this has had an impact on his training, physical condition and current healing response?

“I think the way of eating for me, being plant-based, is normal and it’s obviously better than eating shit that’s for sure. So it’s good. I generally feel better from eating plant-based, my energy levels are a lot higher, I recover faster and my inflammation actually isn’t as much.

The interesting thing is my surgeon, every time they replace my cast - which has to be removed every couple of weeks and fitted with a new one so they can clean the wrist and look at it and everything - they were saying how surprised they were, even after one day - because once they’d done the cast too tight and I had to go back up to get it fixed - and they were so surprised that there was hardly any swelling and basically no bruising. Which is really good but they were like ‘this is so weird, it’s ridiculous how your body is responding to it’ so yeah, hopefully it’s the same inside!

“You generally look at people that are going through normal life and what they eat and what they do, and I was so surprised to see it. I watch a lot of vlogs on YouTube and seeing the ‘average joe’ going through life eating what they do, it’s crazy.


“I don’t think you ever really know the extent of what your diet is doing to your body but you can only really go on when you have an injury and stuff, how fast you heal so yeah, it’s obviously a positive. I do it because I like it, and Sarah’s food’s really good so for me it’s a win-win situation!”

2020 saw Dixon move from the Angel Nieto Team to Petronas, a deal that has recently been extended for 2021, so how did he find his first year within such a prominent and multi-level team?

“Really good, it’s the most professional team I’ve ever been with and it’s just another level. You’ve only got to see what they’ve done in MotoGP as well, throughout the races the most wins have come from Petronas.

“The team, everything about it is super good. Stiggy [Johan Stigefelt, Team Director] is such a great guy to deal with, I couldn’t ask for a better team boss, I really get on with him and even on the MotoGP side, Wilco [Zeelenberg, MotoGP Team Manager], Torleif [Hartelman, Rider Analyst], they are just so supportive, so I really love it and I love the atmosphere that is going round the team.”


The Petronas partnership also ushered in a budding bromance, in the form of Fabio Quartararo, has the MotoGP rider been a useful ally within the SRT camp and MotoGP paddock in general?

“Yeah, definitely. Fabio is such a cool guy and we are very similar in age so it’s good because he gives me his knowledge. He’s been in the paddock a long time and I haven’t been in the paddock hardly any time, so he just gives me almost words of wisdom - being as young as he is and younger than me! - to help me. It’s such a positive and we just bounce off each other and I can still help him, as bizarre as that can sound, because I’ve rode the big bikes so I get what he’s saying and I understand what he means by whatever we are talking about at the time.

“Not just that, just everyday life we talk about as well and it’s good. It’s nice, the whole vibe in the team is super good.”

With two years now under his belt on the world stage, after an impressive rise to fame in BSB, how does Dixon find life in the MotoGP paddock in comparison to the British championship?

“Different. Totally different. You’d think they were two different sports. BSB is obviously professional for what it is but MotoGP is just another level above, it’s the pinnacle of the sport obviously.

“At first I found it really hard, and really strange because of the travelling. That was probably the biggest thing, the travelling, because the longest distance we travelled in BSB was probably five hours but you’re travelling five hours and then you’ve got a motorhome to live in so it’s not so bad. Whereas when you’re flying it’s a bit different. You’re going to different countries, different ways of eating or how they do their food, for us being vegan it can be super difficult, to have people not understand, so you’re like ‘great, another salad tonight. That’s ideal!’.

“When the team brought the hospitality then it was so much better, Sarah could cook at some rounds and the chef was really good because he loves vegans. The whole thing from the two paddocks are so different because in BSB we would just cook for ourselves and just have whatever we want but now, being with this team the chef allows Sarah to do what she wants or he’ll cook for us whatever we need. The first year, with Aspar, they are like massive meat eaters so it was pretty tough and non-existent.”

2021 will see Dixon stay with Petronas for a second year within its Moto2 outfit and while the consistency is a bonus, what does he want to change or improve on for the coming season?

Everything! Everything! No, I think I’ll take some aspects of this year because they’ve been good but obviously I’ve got to adapt to how my wrist is going to be first of all and that will be the biggest hurdle for me. Working my way through my injury to get ready for the season but not just that I’ll be working on other aspects of myself to make my understanding of racing better, i.e. being mentally ready, I think I’ll be working a lot with that.

“I’ve got people that I work with already but I’ve got things that I’m in the process of doing and trying to understand, to try and help the progression of not just myself but the actual sport in general. So I’ve got a lot of things to do, that’s why I said I want to change a lot, because it is a lot but at the end of the day this is what I want to do and I want to extract the best out of what I’ve got in myself. I want to get every last bit of whatever I can get to try to be the best that I can be.

“I’ve only actually been racing on tarmac for 10 years, started in 2010 for my first year and 10 years later I’m in Grand Prix so it’s been a good progression and we’ve not done it the typical way, you know. I’ve not come from money, we’ve not been able to buy our way into rides, it’s been a fucking hard road, many ups and downs, injuries, get ripped off because people like to take you for everything, there’s been so many different challenges and so many aspects of having to go through so much $**t.

“Like with my Dad having to spend everything to get me where I am, and he hasn’t got any money so even doing what he’s done he’s always just missed out on the stages where you actually start to really earn money, so it’s come the hard way and it’s starting to pay off.

“My long term goal is to make sure me and Sarah, and my family, are financially sorted and settled, because my family are my biggest priority, My Dad, Mum, brother, sister, everybody. I have goals that I want to reach and obviously I want to make sure that everybody is safe and healthy and do the best that I can do to ensure that they are, and then I want to be successful and ultimately I want to win world championships but I want to do the best that I can do.

“If that means winning world titles that means world titles but if that’s winning races, you know, I’ve give it my best shot and that’s all that I can do and be content with. So that’s where I’m aiming for.”

A condensed calendar for 2020 saw numerous venues withdrawn from the usual itinerary as the GP paddock concentrated its efforts into a safe-as-possible European bubble, so where there any tracks that Dixon especially missed visiting this year?

“Japan. I love Japan. I don’t know why but I really, really liked Japan. Also, not that I liked Australia for the track - I didn’t like the track because I had a bad experience - but I loved the place, like so good, the best. I would love to live in Australia one day but the experience I had there wasn’t so good but that could be down to the bike that I was on at the time.

“I went to many tracks this year, like Misano and all these different places that I really didn’t get on with on the KTM because it was a difficult bike, and then I’ve come to tracks this year, like Misano, on the Kalex and finished sixth and to-date that was my best result before I got fourth in Aragon.

“There were many tracks that I missed this year, Malaysia is a track that’s so awesome, the place, there’s so many things, you’ll know because you travel, it’s not just the track, it’s the atmosphere of the place that you go to and the culture that makes everything, the experience, so good and so different, so there were many places that I missed that we didn’t go to this year.”

With that in mind are there any of the new circuits, scheduled or as reserves next year, that he’s looking forward to ride?

“[more laughing] I don’t even know. What are they? That’s so bad, I’ve genuinely not even looked at the calendar yet. [Quickly discusses new tracks as well as the fact that he didn’t get to try out Portimao due to the wrist injury]. We have a test at Portimao with the team in the first week in March so that will be interesting. It looks a track that, actually I was really pissed that I couldn’t go there, because it looks like a track that would suit my style and is very similar to a BSB style track. Almost like an Oulton Park or Cadwell but just massive and a lot wider.

“I don’t know, I like any track that we go to but when we go to tracks that no one else has been to I genuinely think that you’ll see, not being big-headed but I think you’ll see me shine more because everyone is on a level playing field. Normally I go to tracks that they’ve been on for years and I have to learn the tricks of the trade really fast and that’s obviously the most difficult part, knowing what part of the track to be on, so no one will know anything other than having to figure it all out yourself and so I think in that circumstance I will be quite good.”

The injury and forthcoming operation are obviously the main priority at the present time, with rehab and training following in the New Year but does the pair have any plans for the off-season, to wind down away from racing?
“We are having a night in London, just to say thank you to Sarah for putting up with me all-year, and just to reset, take my mind off stuff and go into the New Year as best as we can, obviously with the situation that I’m in at the minute.”

“What do I like to do Sarah, to wind down? Piss Sarah off! I don’t really wind down. No, Sarah’s shaking her head!

“Do you know what, I really struggle in the off season, I really, really struggle just to switch off, and even harder now with my wrist, lockdown, everything. I struggle to, I don’t know, you mentally find it tough to not have a purpose so much. People don’t speak about it but it is fucking difficult.

“We have such highs and lows in our sport where one minute you’re on top of the world and one minute you’re in the $**t, you know, I think that doesn’t help the situation when we come to try and relax and we can’t relax for long and I don’t think many people talk about it.

“I think by talking about something, if you’re struggling mentally, is actually not a weakness but a strength. So yeah, I struggle, I do struggle, I try to keep myself as occupied as possible with trying to do other things but there’s not many things that I’m actually good at winding down at but I’m trying to learn. I’m actually, it sounds really stupid but I’ve taken up reading. I’m starting to read, I’m not very good, I’m dyslexic, and I’m trying to better my, I don’t know, vocabulary? I’m just trying to keep myself as occupied as I can, which is hard!”

Returning to the topic of racing, my final question is to ask what his ideal 2021 would look like?

“Winning the championship! Ultimately, I don’t train, I don’t get out of bed other than to try and win that world title but first of all I need to… I’ve almost set that now I can run inside the top-five and I can be there every weekend, in any session that I go out in, and any condition, so my next stage is, first of all to get that podium, then start running in that podium position and then start to take wins, and I feel that next year will be the year to do that.”

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