It’s been an interesting start to the season for you. There’s been ups and downs but you’ve shown a lot of promise throughout.
Yeah, it’s been difficult after breaking my ankle and bottom of my leg was worse than I thought in Australia. Obviously there was six weeks to recover but it was quite difficult for me after that. Pre-season was good and testing was good and obviously I had a lot of confidence from last year and doing well in BSB and I felt quite good but then I got injured at the first race. Then Aragon was sort of rebuilding my confidence and getting back on the bike but since then we’ve done a pretty decent job I think. There’s tracks that I’ve not been to and that are harder to learn. I think that there’s tracks where the bike seems to work better at and then we struggle at other tracks. I’ve been quite happy though and I’ve been close to Eugene everywhere, and beat him sometimes, so it’s been good and that’s my goal. I’m enjoying it and some tracks have been more difficult than others. I’m quite hard on myself and I think that I need to relax in my first year and learn what’s happening. It’s frustrating because you want to be at the front but in this championship it seems that if you’re bike is working you’re at the front but if it’s not it’s a lot harder to be there and you can be eighth, ninth, 10th. Look at Johnny Rea winning three races in a row and leading the championship and then he finished seventh twice at Donington and qualified about twelfth here.
Coming from BSB and running the Evo rules what was it like transitioning to running a bike with so much more electronics?
The electronics are totally different and when everything is working good it’s great but there’s so much more stuff that can go wrong and to setup. You can lose a lot of track time when you’re organising the electronics and you could try something and it’s not quite right. With the electronics setup if it’s wrong it pushes you into the corner and nearly makes it impossible to ride the bike. In BSB you just focus on the suspension and yourself and then just ride the bike. In my opinion you get more out of yourself because you know the bike better and you get more track time. It’s obviously part of the learning curve for me and I need to learn more about the electronics. My feedback isn’t the best either and I need to get more accurate with that so I can help the team to improve the bike. I’ve not got any other experience though to compare it to which makes it difficult.
What about the differences from the Honda to the Suzuki? The Honda was obviously a package that allowed you to race at the front whereas the Suzuki is a much more difficult bike to race with at the moment?
The engine feels the same, it’s four cylinder and rides the same. There’s pluses and minuses with both and this bike is better on the brakes but the Honda is probably better in the corners. It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other because there isn’t really that much of a difference and it didn’t take me long to get used to the bike. It’s more been getting used the rules and the electronics. The 17 inch tyre is a bit different to the 16.5 inch that I ran in BSB so it’s been more to do with that because it’s only a bike.
At Assen you had a podium in the wet and then at Donington you were strong all weekend. Do you look at them as turning points in the season?
I think that I was always going to be fast at Assen and Donington because I’ve raced there before. It’s funny that the two tracks that I’ve raced at before are the two that I’ve had podiums at. I could have probably had a podium in the second race at Donington as well if I didn’t make a mistake. It definitely makes a difference though [racing at tracks I know] because I know where I’m going and I know what the bike should do. I can give the engineers the relevant information whereas at a track like this you don’t have a clue on where to go and what the bike should feel like. It means that you’re always on the backfoot trying to catch up whereas at Donington I was straight on the pace and up the front. For me this year it’s important that when I’ve got the opportunity to get the results that I do and when I don’t that I learn as much as I can and do a good job and keep my ride for next year when I’ll have much more of an advantage than this year.
Are you here on a one year deal?
I’m on a one year deal with the option of a second year. I think that I’m doing a good job. Eugene was second in the world last year and won nine races and I’m doing the same job as him at tracks that I don’t know yet. It gives me a lot of confidence because I think that if he was still on the Aprilia he’d still be at the front. We know that we’ve got a lot of work to do as a team but all the guys work their ass off and we’re slowly making steps in the right direction. But it’s a moving goalpost and when you get faster they get faster.
Have you been able to pick up much from Eugene yet?
Yeah, he’s got a lot more experience than me on these kinds of bikes but it’s the way that he goes about his business. He keeps calm and doesn’t get stressed out. I couldn’t have a better teammate really, whatever happens on track we get on fine. You’re never going to be best friends with your teammate but if you’ve got that respect in the relationship it’s good.
Growing up with Sam what did you find were the biggest benefits of having a racing brother?
I think that the single biggest thing is that anything that I’ve done in my life I’ve always had someone to be against. If you go training on your own and you run five kilometres you’re always going to be faster if someone is close to you. We’re always at a pretty similar level in everything so we push each other a lot without really knowing it. It’s helped a lot with racing as well because you’ve got someone that you trust and relate to so well that when they’ve got those experiences that you can learn from them. It definitely helps though but I’m faster than him!