That was 2005, when they were just starting the Supersport Cup, that meant it was possible to be in the field at a reasonable budget. I think the kind of budget we were talking about for a year was £30,000. Needless to say, it went over that, but the fact that you only had to do 10 rounds helped. We had 2 bikes and we started with Kawasaki's.
That is how we started and I still love it as much now as I did then, it's an obsession that runs very deep. I do it purely for the passion of it.
In 2007 when we ran another rider, Guy Sanders, as well as James, we started getting some good results and then you get that bug where you always want to do better. You start to realise that you could actually win a race.
It gets more and more expensive, but by then you're hooked. We've only ever managed to get a couple of modest sponsors so we have to bear the majority of the expense ourselves. It's fair to say that if we don't find someone this season we may have difficulties before the end of it.
Our motivation now is to win races and championships, which shows how far we have come.
Talking about your motivations, you sound exactly the same as the riders
Michael de Bidaph:
For the team manager and the rest of the team, winning a race feels amazing. The sheer exhilaration for everyone is hard to describe.
In 2011 we won 9 races, but the last race we won was as good as the first, what a buzz! You put so much into it, all the work behind the scenes, all the long hours and to have your rider on the winner's podium is a dream. I can't tell you exactly what the rider feels, but what I feel as the team boss can't be any less. I get elated.
Do you think that the Gearlink team has a special feel to it?
Michael de Bidaph:
Most definitely, the team is a family and it certainly wouldn't be possible without my two full time mechanics, David Harris and Arron Phillips. They've both been with us for a number of years, and I would struggle to find two better people to be involved in my race team or even in my life.
They do whatever it takes, they never moan, work incredible hours, sometimes work unpaid and are always there. They're just not bothered by any of those considerations, they're totally motivated by passion for racing and the team.
I mention these two people because they are just an example of the members of Gearlink who all have the same desire. There's nobody in the team who isn't fully committed. Also now I've got a couple of new people, Dan Dadley and his dad, Andy, who are exactly the same. When you include Paul Kemp as an all-rounder, and Gill Greggor who helps on pit wall, I've got a really strong team around me.
Our data is handled by Akira Technologies, a French company. David and Arron e-mail data to them and act on any recommendations made by them. Akira build engines for us and the WSS team, they come at a heavy price, but they're the best we can get for Kawasaki engines.