‘I LOVE MY BIKES MORE THAN CARS’
British Touring Car champion reveals his secret passion for superbikes
You’re probably better known as a car racer, but you’ve got a big love of two wheels too.
I probably love my bikes more than my cars, in terms of the whole scene. I really appreciate the skill involved too, because everyone thinks they can drive a car quickly, and most people can. But you watch bikes and think ‘that’s just not possible. There’s no way he’s actually doing that’ – and that’s what makes it really cool!
I’ve had a road licence for a while now. It’s something that’s always useful to have, and I thought it also would be great fun to have. But even though I’ve got a couple of road bikes, and have had loads over the years, I actually prefer being on track. I almost think it’s safer, because there’s no potholes and no buses spewing diesel. Track riding is one of the few things that I can do that really focuses my mind.
And you manage to do quite a bit of track riding?
Yeah I do! I have a Fireblade – I’ve had it since 2008 and do the odd trackday on it. It’s one of those things that I like to dip in and out of, because I get addicted otherwise. And when I do that, my perceived ability becomes different from my actual ability – and I fall off!
I love dipping in and out though, having loads of fun on the Blade for a while and then putting it back into the garage until I calm down again.
When we do Honda events the bike guys are all into my car and I’m all over the bikes. Honda are the perfect team to be in for having that love too – I’m still trying to convince Havier Beltran and Neil Tuxworth to give me a go on the superbike, but every time I feel like I’m getting there it ends up being one step forwards and two back. I’m still pushing them though and hopefully it will happen eventually.
So are you pretty handy?
I love sportsbikes, but even a 2008 Fireblade will always outweigh my capabilities – I’ll never have the talent to get the most out of it. I would love to have the skill – and if I had equal talent on bikes and cars, I’d have loved to race bikes, because the chances to move up are a little better.
In car racing, it eventually becomes totally budget-dependant. But I don’t have that talent on a bike, so I have to stick with being the one who sits on the sofa watching the telly and thinking ‘how on earth does that work?’
What else is in your garage?
I’ve got a Ducati Scrambler – it’s a bit leftfield, but I wanted something slow for the roads. Something I can get on in jeans, an open-faced helmet and a pair of shades that doesn’t urge me to go faster. They’re really cool, too though – really quirky-looking little things. It’s a nice toy to have!
I’ve got a Montesa Cota 4RT trials bike which I use for training over the winter. I go out a bit with people like Iain Duffus, because it’s good for hand-eye coordination. It’s a bit of fun, and when the weather is crap in the winter it’s still fun, instead of being stuck indoors in the gym.
What’s your dream bike?
I don’t know, because you always want a load of different things! I’ve always said that I don’t get why people are so fanatical about Ducatis, and now I’ve ended up with one! I’m at the point now where I say that I don’t get why people are into Harleys – and I’m hoping I’m not quite a the mid-life crisis point of trying one out!
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