Only 16 years of age, no fear to face big challenges and a talent which already came to surface in the past years and, sometimes, in the first part of 2022 season. This is how we can describe Zonta van den Goorbergh, young Dutchman who joined RW Racing GP in Moto2 World Championship straight from FIM CEV Moto3 (currently know as FIM JuniorGP). An incredible change that, however, didn’t scare him at all, as he already made it to Q2 in a couple of cases and was not so far from scoring points, despite being also unlucky in Austin and Portimão.
Zonta van den Goorbergh, who also finished as a runner-up in European Talent Cup two years ago, told Palmen in Motorradsport about his rookie season so far with RW Racing GP.
You have just had your first six races as a Moto2 rider. How do you feel about your season so far?
My season so far went better than I expected it to go, although a lot of things happened!
The season got off to a solid start in Qatar, where I already kept two guys behind me in a head-to-head fight and I made an overtake in one of the fastest corners on the track in the last lap, which felt great.
Indonesia was tricky, but I felt incredibly strong in the rain, and also in the dry we were improving. We were fighting for higher positions in the race, compared to Qatar.
Then we arrived to Argentina, which obviously was a strange weekend, since we didn’t have any track time on Friday. Me and my team thought it would have a negative impact on us, but the weekend finally turned out to be was amazing, as we went to Q2 by pure raw pace. We had a great pace also in the race, but sadly enough I suffered a crash very early in the race whilst in the points…
America was a more difficult weekend, but we managed to turn it around on Saturday and even more in warm-up on Sunday. However, I got taken out during the first lap and so ended all the work we had done during the weekend.
We went to Portimão with good feelings, finally a track I know. And there I was incredibly strong in the rain, although I had a very strange crash in the out-lap of FP2 due to aquaplaning over the hill out of Turn 8. We expected to go directly to Q2 directly, since it was wet, but because of how it worked out, we could not and so I had to go through Q1. It was the first dry session, and with some extremely fast names in the session we didn’t expect to go through, but well…We made it to another great QP! The race was really good as well, until I got caught up in a crash with 10 other riders. The bad luck did not seem to stop…
Jerez was difficult: times were incredibly close and everybody knows Jerez so well…The main goal was to finish the race and we achieved it by crossing the finish line in 19th position, right behind the rider who finished 18th. Fun fact: that rider was Simone Corsi, the oldest rider on the grid, and who finished behind him was me, the youngest rider on the grid.
Overall I am happy with the season so far. Being twice in Q2 in six races and fighting for points is not what we expected.
What was the best moment you had in these first races? And the worst one?
The best moment was reaching Q2 in Argentina and Portimão. In Argentina because we were so incredibly fast, and in Portimão because we did not expect to be so fast in the dry.
The worst moment must be the three crashes in a row. It started in Argentina, which was my fault, but then the crashes in America and finally Portimão were totally out of my hands. These, especially the latter, were some really difficult moments for me.
How did you like travelling to Qatar, Indonesia, Argentina and USA, also from a touristic point of view? Did you like the places and the atmosphere?
Qatar was special because of all the buildings and all the rest. A totally different world than what we see over here in the Netherlands or just Europe in general. Then we went to Indonesia, which was A LOT further away, and I consider it right now as the most beautiful place that I have ever seen. It was so nice, not only for the people but also for the Island, Lombok. In Argentina the atmosphere was incredible, but the actual country was ‘meh’, although we didn’t see much of the country so it’s hard to judge. America is America, exactly how you see it in the movies, but that was very nice as well.
Is there any funny moment you would like to share from the first GPs?
I think that would be the days prior to the Indonesian GP. Me, my team-mate (Barry Baltus, e.d.) and another friend from Moto3 (Joshua Whatley, e.d.) did a lot of things together: we went snorkeling, surfing, exploring the island on scooters…It was incredibly fun! We were there early because of quarantine rules and we made the most out of it.
How comfortable do you feel at the moment on the Moto2? How much did you have to change your riding style coming from Moto3?
Obviously, the confidence is starting to build, as just the raw pace is getting better and better, which I think we can be really proud of. I did not have to change so much; it all went pretty naturally. Only in America I had to change something in the braking, which I also converted to Portimão and Jerez, and this helped me. Other than that, not much had to change except the stuff that changed naturally. Although, I must add still sometimes I struggle riding ‘Moto2 lines’, with that I mean for example ‘not stopping the bike enough’.
How is the atmosphere in the MotoGP paddock compared to CEV and CIV Moto3, where you raced in 2021 after finishing second in European Talent Cup in 2020?
Of course, it is different, but I already knew that since I was in Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. In Jerez there were many spectators in the paddock, which was nice in a way, as we did not have them in the previous rounds. The paddock is full of trucks and hospitality’s everywhere, which is different to CEV and CIV. However, it did not feel strange and it actually is really cool!
What’s your goal for the remaining races? Has it changed in comparison with the very beginning of the year?
It has definitely changed! I would still like to keep the spirit of just take it weekend by weekend, and not think too much about the results. However, I cannot help but keep wanting more and putting more pressure on myself. I would like to keep building from where we left of in Portimão and have more of those amazing weekends!
Palmen in Motorradsport is thankful to Zonta van den Goorbergh for taking some time for the interview and wishes him all the best for the remaining of the season.
Photos by Rafa Marrodan