‘THE TEAM SHOOK THEIR HEADS WHEN THEY SAW ME RIDE A 500’

Tyre-smok­ing 500GP win­ner still gets it side­ways... on a Har­ley

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

What was your first bike?

I got a Honda Mini Trail when I was six – they call them Mon­key bikes in the UK.

When did the rac­ing start?

I started straight away do­ing dirt gymkhanas on the Mini Trail. It’s a good way to get a feel­ing for bike con­trol. I then started ju­nior mo­tocross on a 125, which I rode un­til I was 16.

And you nearly went to Speed­way?

My dad used to race speed­way. He knew a guy sell­ing a bike, we bought it and I started rac­ing it. I only did a few years, but I did pretty good. I’d saved all my money to race in Eng­land and had a try-out planned with Poole Pi­rates. But at the last minute I used the money to buy a Suzuki RGV250 proddy bike to race at my lo­cal tracks.

And Barry Sheene spot­ted you?

My first road race was in 1991 when I was 19 and I won both my races. Barry Sheene was com­men­tat­ing, but I thought noth­ing of it, then a while later he called me up. He rec­om­mended me to the AGV Team Ger­many 125cc Grand Prix squad after one of their rid­ers got in­jured at the Ja­panese GP.

When was your first Grand Prix?

I’d only just stated road rac­ing. They en­tered me in the Aus­tralian GP at Eastern Creek. It was my first time on a 125, on slicks and in GPS. I qual­i­fied 12th and was run­ning ninth un­til the ex­haust blew to bits. The bike wasn’t that good but they were happy with what I’d done. I did 125s from ’93-’97. I fin­ished sev­enth in the world in ’97 and then a friend, Jeff Hard­wick, who ran Shell in Aus­tralia wanted me to ride in his Shell Ad­vance team on the V-twin.

Wasn’t 125s to 500s a big jump?

I’d raced 500cc two-stroke speed­way and dirt track bikes and used a Honda CR500 mo­tocrosser when train­ing for speed­way and road rac­ing. I al­ways loved the big bikes and I knew I had good con­trol. I took to the 500 like a duck to wa­ter. Ad­mit­tedly it was only the twin and not the V4 and it prob­a­bly would’ve been bet­ter if they’d have made two dif­fer­ent classes. It was a bit of a strug­gle, but I got some re­sults.

Then you took a break?

I did the full 500 sea­son in ’98, then the team went to 250s on fac­tory NSRS with Toru Ukawa and An­thony West with Mick Doohan as team man­ager. I was left with­out a ride and was back in Aus­tralia fit­ting roller doors. I’d given up and didn’t want any­thing more to do with rac­ing. I thought I’d stay at home and have a nor­mal life work­ing like every­one else. But half way through ’99 Si­mon Cra­far, who was on the Red Bull Yamaha, lost con­fi­dence in the tyres after they went from Dun­lop to Miche­lin, and the team rang me.

What’s a V4 500 like?

I got to ride that bike for the first time at Assen. I remember the me­chan­ics shak­ing their heads when I came in. They couldn’t be­lieve I was just wring­ing the bike’s neck. They said it was like a wild bull and I was just fight­ing it. I got used to it, slowly set it up, and ended up with a good feel­ing.

When did you quit rac­ing?

At the end of 2009. I did Mo­togp in 2003, WSB with Du­cati in 2004 and with Foggy Petronas in 2005. I also set-up my own team up for the World Su­per­moto cham­pi­onship, but I un­der­es­ti­mated just how good those guys like Cham­bon and Van Den Bosch were. They’d been do­ing it for 10-15 years be­fore me and knew bikes and how to ride them to their ab­so­lute limit.

We’ve heard you ride a Har­ley now?

Yeah! I’ve got a 2007 Night Train I cruise around on. I slide it a bit – if the mis­sus were here she’d tell you. She’s been on the back when I’ve had it side­ways.

Aussie hero Mccoy al­most be­came a speed­way rider – which could ex­plain his side­ways style Grab a top-notch A2 racey light­weight

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