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EXCLUSIVE Colin Wright (Airwaves) – Q&A

23 July 2008

2008 looks set to be the year that GSE Racing returns to the top of the British Superbike tree after Shane Byrne's stunning run of form this year.

So, as the series tips over the half way point, Crash.net took the time to catch up with team manager Colin Wright to mull over the season so far, the team's plans for the future and even chat about some of our more regular Crash.net Forum members...


Crash.net:
Firstly, Colin, has the season surpassed your expectations?

CW:
We can never surpass our expectations because our expectations are high. Traditionally, Airwaves Ducati and previously GSE Racing have done a remarkable job. We need to be there. Our primary goal is to get results and win races and championships, so we haven't exceeded our expectations, but we have been getting firsts and seconds from Shane. Our bonus has been taking a bit of a hammering though! It is good, it is very good in fact, but we won't be happy until we've won the championship.

Crash.net:
Have you suggested to Shakey that it's worth trying to consolidate his lead now he has such a huge advantage?

CW:
I haven't spoken to him about that scenario because when a rider is riding as well as Shane is; me speaking to him on that subject wouldn't help at this moment in time. We may talk to him with three or four races to go because if he has a crash it could ruin the chances of the championship. But Shane knows that, he doesn't need telling. In the past I have had to say that because the rider is expecting more than they can achieve, but I don't need to discuss that with Shane.

Crash.net:
It is an argument that regularly comes up in Crash.net Forums - is Shakey the defining factor this year, or is it the Ducati 1098 bike?

CW:
I keep an eye on the forums and what surprises me, in some cases, is the certain few people who believe they have the answer. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but – and Shane will agree with this, Airwaves will agree with this – it takes all three parts of a puzzle to win a championship. The rider is very important, the motorcycle is very important and so is the team. We have those three ingredients this year.

I would love to meet one of your regular posters, Dice, because I can't believe he is as cynical as he sounds! GSE Racing is renowned for doing the job properly and we have worked hard to achieve what we have achieved. Sometimes we lose and sometimes we have to regroup, but the bottom line is you need every part of the puzzle in order to ensure success. This year we've got it, Honda had it for the last two seasons...that is just racing and that is what makes it as exciting as it is.

Crash.net:
What about Leon. Do you see yourself going quite far with him in the future?

CW:
I hope so. I would like to see Airwaves Ducati continue with Leon and Shane. Leon was taken on, not as an understudy, but as a mutual goal to prove that he can be as good as the rest. We have worked hard with Leon. He has had a lot to overcome with his injury, but we believe he has what it takes. It will take time, but we are lucky in a way, to have Shane who is capable of winning, and also to have Leon who is 21-years-old. If he continues his form that way he is, he will be another James Toseland, Neil Hodgson or Troy Bayliss, who have all come through GSE Racing.

Crash.net:
With regards to the weight penalty incurred this season, how difficult has it been to keep the bike as competitive as it was at the beginning of the year?

CW:
We didn't threaten to leave the championship, but there was a lot of discussion and anger in the decision that MSVR made. We believed it was wrong then, we still do now. It isn't whether the penalty should have been introduced, but certainly the timing and amount of weight. We have put it behind us though because if you want to play the game, you have to accept what it thrown at you, which we have. We kicked up at the time but the bottom line is we are out to win a championship. To the Dice's of this world, it looks like it hasn't made a difference, but Leon and Shane have mentioned how sluggish the bike feels. Both thought they thought they had street bike engines in, which is purely down to the extra weight the engine is trying to push. I don't want sympathy, but it has made a difference and we will get on with it.

Crash.net:
GSE Racing were expected to be amongst the teams to be competing as a wild-card in the forthcoming World Superbike rounds. Why was the decision taken no to go?

CW:
We would have loved to have competed at Brands Hatch or Donington Park, but we don't have the engines available. It would have taken a major change to the engines to fit with the Superbike rules, because our engines are not as quick as the World Superbike engines. There would be little point in taking part if we weren't competitive. If we were confident of a good result, then we could have gone. I can already hear people saying 'you don't want to go because you won't win', but they are right. We want to go out and win and we wouldn't be able to do that with the current engine specification that we've got.

Crash.net:
Further to something Shane Byrne told Crash.net, are GSE Racing considering a return to the World Superbike Championship soon?

CW:
What Shane said at Mallory was absolutely correct. We hope in the next six to eight weeks to be able to confirm or approach Shane regarding 2009. We don't know what direction that will be, whether it is British or World Superbikes and quite a big say will come from Airwaves, but we are looking forward to that discussion. I told Shane myself, if he is approached by a factory team, then we would love it for him to get into a discussion with them. If wanted to go, then we would happily let him go. Having said that, I think Shane is going to wait for GSE Racing to decide what they are doing next year because I know both riders are happy where they are.

Crash.net:
Would you only be happy to go into World Superbikes as another satellite Ducati team, together with Sterilgarda, or would you consider taking on a new project?

CW:
We consider everything. I am the team manager of GSE Racing, but it will be down to Darrell Healey and Airwaves to make the final decision. My job is to win this year's championship and that's what we are concentrating on. I speculate and wish for things like everybody does, but for the moment I am only interested in winning this championship.


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