What do you do for a living now – besides your crew chief role?
Being a crew chief is a 100% commitment for me now; no time for anything else. I do a lot of work at home and got to the team’ headquarters too – it has become a full-time job, which is good. I prefer it that way. I live in Lucca in Italy and my family is there, so I spend most of my time there. Looking after the kids, that is the other part of the job!
Does the feeling of being a double world champion ever wear off – or do you not think about it? Do people remind you of it?
I do not think about it a lot. It does not pop up regularly. Sometimes my kids ask me about when I raced, and that makes me think about it. I do not try to block it out but my head is full of other stuff now. Work, kids issues, having fun with them. But sometimes I might look at something on the wall and I might reminisce. It is quite a while ago but there is a satisfaction that I was able to achieve something.
At the time you were riding a Kawasaki in WorldSSP a lot was made of your accountancy qualifications, but did it make your think through problems or opportunities more meticulously, more calmly, than the other guys?
I think with what I do now I should have taken more notice of the details when I raced! I might have been even better. There is so much in it, so many little areas to improve on, that we refine things so much now that when I raced, I did not really consider. I had good people around me and fingers crossed hopefully they thought of all of that, but I could have been better for sure now I know the areas that can be improved. You always need to aim to go it better next time.
A lot of people say Australian riders have more desire to win as they make so many sacrifices to race on the other side of the planet – do you think this is true?
It is hard to know what other people had in their headspace at the time but I 100% agree with what you just said. We were not in the BSB championship and home every Sunday night. We only had one chance at it and if it didn’t work out they were not going to come and call you in Australia again because it had already been proved that you were not good enough. So you had to make it work. It was an opportunity that you had worked for all through your junior career in Australia. When you got the world championship you were not going to let it go. There was no safety net. So you had to make it work.
You are one of the few riders to race in Supersport, Superbike and MotoGP – is there any other racing class you would have liked to try and why?
The think I preferred the most was the big bikes with the horsepower. I came from riding dirt bike and sliding the rear tyre, spinning it – which now has become the fashion, as everyone does dirt track as the new training. It was the only option we had in Australia, we could not go onto the tarmac until we were 18, so it was dirt track, for good or bad. Indirectly it probably had a good effect. Maybe I would have liked to do an Endurance race, the 24-hour races, with a good crew and good team-mates. But… I got to ride some of the best bikes in the world - big power bikes.
What do you see as the future of WorldSSP racing in general? Is it still the best way into a good WorldSBK ride?
I think it is. If you can win on a 300 you can end up in a Supersport and then a WorldSBK team. If you are good enough you can come up and obviously you have to go through the 600 class. If someone wins on a 600 they can move onto a Superbike. Some manufacturers have that structure. Because I had success on the 600s you kind of get labelled a 600 rider although I much preferred riding the biker bikes. But WorldSSP is still a very relevant class. And 300s straight to a Superbike just doesn’t work. I think there should be some basic electronics on the 600s still because that is the difference that we see. The riders who come up to a Superbike from a 600 struggle with the electronics straight away. They find it hard to use the advantages of the electronics.