He said he felt he'd let us down with the problems with the bike and everything and just wanted a fresh start and that's why he'd been talking to other people. At that point me and Mark [Smith-Halvorsen – GBmoto principal] had had a couple of discussions and up to then I'd said I was happy staying where I was. His offer was tempting but at the time Mark wasn't sure which manufacturer he wanted to use. After Silverstone though he said he was going to use a Kawasaki.
At that point I thought that I needed to get things sorted. I needed to talk frankly with Shaun first because I didn't want to just walk away from him because he's always been there for me in the past. I also told Mark that that's what I was doing. Eventually we did have that conversation before Brands when he told me that he was talking to other riders and I told him that I'd felt that things hadn't been right for a while now and to save him the hassle I told him that I'd been in discussions with other teams. I said that if that's the direction he wanted to go in then that was fine.
At the time I knew that he'd already been talking to Brooksey [Josh Brookes] because he needed someone for the roads.
Perhaps part of Shaun's motivation was a desire to have a rider who could compete on the roads too?
Yeah I think so and Brooksey will obviously be doing that.
So when Shaun told me that, I thought, 'Fair enough' and that made my decision to go with Mark's offer a no brainer. GBmoto is a new team but I've seen them improve every season they've competed and I can see the potential in the way it's structured, organised and run. I was actually quite close to doing a deal with Mark the year before, but went with the proven team instead. My brother [Dean] knows some of the key team members very well and has a very high opinion of them.
The fact that the team then went with a Kawasaki rather than a Honda really swung the deal. It's a well turned out team. I was keen on moving on to a bike that was more suited to the BSB championship. All this year we've been losing a lot of time because of the Yamaha's lack of punch out of corners, and there are a lot of corners in the short circuits in BSB. The Kawasaki leaps out of corners well. The Yamaha was only really fast when it could circulate alone on its own terms carrying good corner speed and if you were behind someone you could have problems doing that.
With all that in mind, after I finished talking with Shaun I called Mark and said, 'Let's do it' and I haven't looked back since. I've not fallen out with Shaun and he was happy for me and I wish him well with his plans in racing and on the roads.
Kawasaki will also be giving us factory support. The Kawasaki is quite an open book because so many other teams are using them so we've worked hard to design a bike that can do well and put together a good testing schedule. We've got a plan.
Have you ever tried a Kawasaki?
I sat on one at the show! But no.
Luckily my brother owns a ZX10 for his company so I'm hoping he'll give me a go on that.
Tommy Bridewell's performance when he jumped on the Halsall Kawasaki also helped me make my decision, it showed that the bike wasn't just fast in Shakey's team. Also Josh Waters told me that the Kawa was fast and told me in which areas it was an improvement on the Yamaha.
So now we've got a team with good experience and two riders who can run at the front, it's going to be good.
What's Chris Walker's role in the team, is he purely a rider?
That's right, Chris is purely a rider, he's there to do the same job I am. I think both of us could be in the Showdown at the end of the year and have a shot at the title.
No team starts off as a factory team, Neil Tuxworth for example started off selling parts from a van at Cadwell Park. GBmoto has made strong progress to be where it is now. All teams have to start somewhere and there's always a point at which they go from being a top ten finisher to being a front running team. I think that moment has come for GBmoto, because they've got the right structure, bike and riders and I think next year it'll be far harder to get into the team because they'll be in demand.
Was there a financial consideration with this move?
Yes, I get more now than when I was working for Shaun but the cost of living has also increased now that I've got another little mouth to feed.
Is there talk about the future or is it purely a one year deal?