The heritage of the race wasn't important to me initially but after going there it was. When I was growing up I was never exposed to any road racing and the first time I actually experienced it was when I came to England and HM Plant invited me to go there.
From the very first moment I was there I thought 'Man, I've gotta do this!' I immediately thought it was something I needed to do, I didn't know when or how, I just knew it. Since then I tried to learn more about it, it was that decision that motivated me to learn more about the history of it.
Did the fact that you wanted to ride at the TT influence you to sign for TAS?
No, not really. I signed with TAS because I thought it was the better position for me, it wasn't motivated by one element it just seemed like a better situation.
Financially it wasn't particularly a strong move, I just felt that HM Plant wasn't a great environment for me. I didn't feel comfortable. The bikes were brilliant, the mechanics were nothing but professional and the materials I was supplied with were first class, it was just the corporate environment of Honda didn't feel comfortable.
It was almost scripted what I had to say after each race and if I spoke at all freely I could be reprimanded afterwards. It was as if you couldn't have an opinion or say what you felt, you had to say it the Honda way. You had to toe the line there and I felt TAS was a better place for me. I just felt I would enjoy my racing more.
Honda had put the offer on the table for the following year and at the same time I had had negotiations with TAS and had an offer from them. There were other offers too but I decided to say to Neil Tuxworth 'thanks, but no thanks' and move to new opportunities.
If the wages were huge you might accept more but these days the big money isn't in racing anymore, MotoGP yes sure, but in BSB the wages aren't enough to make you suffer. You've got to do it because you love it and if you stop enjoying it like I was there, you've got to find a way of improving it.
The wages in BSB are something around the £100K mark?
No, far below that.
I took a pay cut of between 5 to 10 thousand dollars to go to TAS. It was give or take though as there were other benefits such as a car which balanced it out somewhat. The change was really motivated by enjoyment factors.
I know my own personality in that as soon as I lose my independence and freedom and I have to rely on other people too much I start to feel uncomfortable and I can feel it straight away.
How would you describe the atmosphere at TAS?
They're extremely professional when it comes to presentation, quality and materials for the bike but then there's a real balance there. Everyone loves to have a joke. There's got to be a bit of laughter and fun about it. As soon as it gets too serious, like no-one's enjoying themselves anymore, it spreads like wildfire and everyone recognises that they're not having fun and something needs to give and change to get back the situation where everyone's having a good laugh as well as going racing.