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Pedro Acosta’s tough love method
Crowned the Moto3™ World Champion at the end of his rookie season and now a two-time race winner in Moto2™ this year, Spain's Pedro Acosta is one to watch.
Ever since Pedro Acosta was first put on a motorbike as a kid so he’d finally “stop messing around”, the Spanish rider has faced every challenge head-on. Fast forward to now and he’s 18 years old – and despite missing part of the 2022 season with a broken femur, he won his second Moto2™ Grand Prix last weekend. Last year, he was a rookie when he took the Moto3™ World Championship title.
“I was very bad at it – I have to admit it,” he says of his first races, a self-critical attitude that embodies the way he’s always approached his riding. “And I haven’t said I’m not so bad after all yet! I have this mentality that to be able to improve, you have to train with people who are better than you.
"I like calling people and going training here and there, but always with those who are better than me. When I go cycling, I go with people who are better than me, even if I am going to lose, because they are going to put me to the test.”
This approach has been instrumental in helping Acosta progress through the sport. From winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2020 and the Moto3™ title in 2021, to making the move to Moto2™ this season. That last step is probably the biggest leap of all – the new bike weighs 70kg more and the horsepower has doubled, so the Spaniard has been in the gym every day trying to gain the extra weight needed just to handle that beast.
“It’s about taking the step forward physically. You end up feeling it because there are many laps, many situations where you need to think and let the body react. Those extra kilos have helped me," he explains.
“It’s a hard category, you have to be at the same level in each lap, and you cannot fail. Above all, it’s about new situations. I try to change my mind from races with 20 riders behind you to races where there are one or two riders. There are fewer riders in the group, and more distance among riders in the race, so you have to fight your way to be at the level. That’s the mental adjustment."
Mental adjustment. He’s all about that. With his coach Paco Mármol, the duo work through what he calls “shock therapy”, training on a bike that Mármol deliberately sabotages so he can be ready for anything come race day.
Acosta says: “From a twisted handlebar to leaving the handlebar loose, going without an anti-slip, without a rear brake, without a clutch, with flat tyres, with four kilos of pressure… In the end, this makes you a rider, makes you find your way and put your body in a different way.
“Whatever state the motorbike was in, I rode it. I didn’t even ask about it, I just got on it, shut my mouth and just rode. In the end I think you don’t need to have a perfect motorbike to ride. Quite the opposite.”
Always willing to leave his comfort zone, Acosta finds his strength in “doing things when I don’t want to do them". He explains: "If it’s raining, if it’s windy, if I don’t feel like riding my bike – I go and ride. Or a silly thing, like a cold shower in winter. All these things make you stronger in the end, because your body and your mind don’t want to do it, but you have to. For your own good.”
The son of a fisherman from Southern Spain, his helmet displays a shark – the same that’s on his dad’s boat back home. “My father made me a logo when I started, and that’s the one I wear. He also made a name that I wear on my suit. Some people say it’s ugly. I mean, it’s just the letters in Word, but my dad did it for me when I was six years old. And what do you want me to do? To change it now? No, it’s going to stay there whether it’s nice or not.”
That’s the essence of tough love right there – unassuming, uncompromising and unbreakable.