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GP Week : Issue 1
5 Minutes with ... JAMES TOSELAND Double World Superbike Champion James Toseland made a stunning debut after jumping into the deep end of MotoGP ... as he prepared to qualify in Qatar he spoke to MICHAEL SCOTT GPWEEK: What’s it like climbing off a Superbike onto a MotoGP bike? JAMES TOSELAND: It’s pretty impressive, for what the bike’s capable of. You need to adapt to the carbon brakes, the lighter weight and the stiffer chassis. Those are the factors that allow you to be … around this particular circuit, Qatar, nearly five seconds quicker. It’s amazing that around the same track, with not that much different kind of power, with the corner speed, the braking and the grip and everything, you can really knock five seconds off. To my shame I had you down as a slow learner? Why was I so wrong? I just like to prove people wrong (laughing)! One of the great things that has improved the learning curve is the Tech 3 team I’m working for. They have a lot of experience at this level, and they’ve given me quite a few tips and hints as to how these bike like to be ridden. I came with an open mind, to learn what the bikes like, and how they like to be ridden. Rather than just come with my knowledge of the Superbike style, I wanted to adapt quickly to this. The stopwatch says you have adapted quickly. Yeah – that was encouraging. I finished second here in the test a week ago, fourth in Australia, then fifth in Jerez. To be at the sharp end at this point in time has given me a lot of confidence that, firstly, I deserve to be here and, secondly, that I can be as successful here as in Superbike. Your timing is good – Yamaha seem to be having a bit of a resurgence. Yeah, they’re pushing hard. They had a difficult year last year, and also Michelin as well, so you have two massive manufacturers wanting to correct that, and it’s going well. It’s one thing to do a fast lap, another to do 20 or 25 fast laps in a row. How do you feel about that? I did a race simulation here last week in the test, and I was really pleased with that. My lap times were really consistent: they varied from a 56.6 to a 57.2 in 22 laps. To have that kind of consistency is good. I don’t think I’ll know exactly where we stand until the chequered flag drops on Sunday night. But I think we’re in with a shout. How has the move affected you personally? For example, are you richer or poorer? (Laughs) I’m richer for it, definitely. But it wasn’t about the money for me. I had seven years of Superbike racing, and I was a happy man because I was competitive there, and winning makes me happy. It was a difficult decision to come here, and to know that I have a chance to be competitive here. The comfort zone was to stay in Superbike, and it was hard to move. But with Hervé and the Tech 3 team round me, I knew I would have a good chance. Have you been home between the tests here last week and this weekend’s race? Stayed here. It was an option to go home to the Isle of Man for a couple of days, then having to come back out again, which wasn’t ideal. Also, because it’s a night race, I’ve been kind of getting used to the night shift – going to bed late and then getting up late, and getting used to that. Hopefully it’s going to prove good for the weekend. Are you normally early to bed and early to rise? Early to bed, and not too early to rise. Usually I go to bed about 11, but I’ve been staying up until two or three o’clock, then getting up at about mid-day. That should bode well for an 11pm race on Sunday! What would be your ambition, if not for racing? I would have been a musician of some sort. I don’t know how successful, but I would have been playing the piano. I can strum a few chords on the guitar, but it’s nowhere near as spectacular … What CD is on in your car? JT: It’s actually the live version of “Love in an Elevator” from Aerosmith, because I’m learning the lyrics for the new song for our band, Crash. Our next gig is at the Motorcycle News big bash at Butlins in Skegness, in front of 3,000 people, so I’d better learn the lyrics pretty well! My voice isn’t too bad: I’ve only been singing since I joined the band. (At this point, manager Roger Burnett, a former GP rider, joins us, saying: “You’ll be able to hear him next Friday night. He’s live on the BBC singing 'Message in a Bottle' for Comic Relief – in front of an audience of 9 million …) No pressure there then! What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you in racing? Breaking my femur in three places at Cadwell Park in 2000. It was a really bad injury. Also it was only a test day and there was no medical assistance – it took 45 minutes for the air ambulance to come, a six-and- a-half-hour operation, and a whole lot of rehab … And the best? Winning two World Superbike championships and achieving the goal to become a MotoGP rider. Could be more to come, of course. Exactly. The comfort zone was to stay in Superbike and it was hard to move 16