This is the home race for SpeedUp and obviously very important to the team, do you have any new parts for this weekend?
The seat and the fuel tank are new and they’re 20mm lower so that’s quite a big difference and the weight is more down on the back and over the back wheel of the bike, which is what we need, and it helps my comfort on the bike as well because the seat is flatter and I can be a bit more in the bike as well and more comfortable. It’s good and we need to try and shorten the gap to the handlebars because I’m a little bit short.
Did it come as a surprise to qualifying second and take your first front row in Grand Prix?
It was a really good day and I’m happy. This morning we only used an old tyre but we were top ten until the last five minutes when we dropped back so I was quite confident for qualifying. In the end it worked out quite good but I knew that I could do a good laptime. I expected a low 1m53s so to do a high 52 is mega. I thought that some guys would go faster so I was hoping for a front two row start. I put in a good lap but then no-one really improved. The track temperature went up and the grip was good for us. That was a good sign because normally when the temperature goes up we’ve struggled so that was good. We tried a new shock in qualifying with slightly different hydraulics and it worked well but everything we changed today it made the bike better. I had that a lot last year in World Supersport but we haven’t had that a lot this year.
With five races under your belt has anything changed from the start of the season?
I had a good sit down with the team after Le Mans because it was a productive weekend for my first time there but we weren’t quite happy as a team. There was some people looking to go in slightly different directions and I wasn’t happy with it all but this weekend has been mega. We’ve had longer debriefs and meetings together and everyone is happy. I had felt that we weren’t getting the most out of it and in this class if you’re 0.4s off you’re nowhere so it was important. We’re 0.1s off pole today so we’re getting closer and I’m happier with the team and we’re knowing each other better. It’s such a tight class that everything has to be running in the right way and getting confidence and knowing everyone better. Alex getting on the podium at Donington also made me say that I’ve got to make it happen!
This year because you’ve started in the midpack you’ve lost time battling at the start of races, what do you expect in the race?
Normally my race pace is quite good and this weekend I feel really good. On lap thirty on my tyres I did a mid 53s lap. If I’m doing that in the race I probably won’t be with Rabat but I’ll be top five and sniffing a podium which is what I’m aiming for. I’ve got good pace on old tyres and in the past I’ve lost time because I was 13th on the first lap or 22nd in Argentina. It’s really important to make a good clean start tomorrow and stay in the top five because of the slipstream. My laptime was really good today and all on my own with no-one in front of me and that’s good to have that in this class because not everyone can do that in this class. We’re still struggling a little bit but in the next few races when we get to tracks that I know and I’m confident and that I can read races it’s looking really good. It was that way with the Yamaha last year because I could do the times on my own and then lead a race. It’s a confidence thing and even now I need a little more confidence but it’s starting to feel a little more like my bike.
Tito looks like he’s got the best pace of everyone, can you go with him though in a race?
His pace is mid 53’s with some low 53’s and I think that I can do that. Whether I can do it for a full race? I don’t know but my pace is there and I feel quite good and with a slipstream it will help. I think that we can do a good race tomorrow.
In a race when you finally get to follow and fight with Tito, Kallio and the other leading riders do you think that will be the point when you can really unlock that last part of the bike?
That’s what I need now and I need two or three solid and consistent races with them boys to unlock it. This weekend it’s a new track and I’ve followed no-one so I’m doing what I think I should do. There’s a few bits that I’m doing a bit wrong or that are different to Supersports but maybe it’s making half a second over ten laps but in this class…I’m happy to be at the front of the grid. I can fight at the front, how close I’m not sure but I can definitely fight.
What do you think of Mugello as a track?
It’s one of the best that I’ve ever ridden. From the first session I thought that it’s such a nice, pretty track and it’s lovely to ride around. When you go fast it’s really nice and for me it’s one of my favourites. Most of the track wasn’t bad to learn, a few corners with blind crests were difficult. The chicanes are slow in and fast out so they’re not bad.