Tom what brought you along to the National Motorcycle Show?
It is part of my list of things to do. I've enjoyed the show; we took part in a “Question of Bikes” on the Road and Racing Suzuki stand. I'm taking it steady, chatting with the fans and seeing a few faces that I haven't seen for a while so all in all it has been good.
Do you enjoy meeting the fans?
Yeah I do. It is nice to get to talk to the fans rather than just signing autographs at a race meeting. I mean for example, you go to a race meeting and you try and get talking to fans but to be fair, I don't know what it is like for other riders but I know what it is like for myself. I'm in a different frame of mind, once I'm at a race circuit doing my job my mind set is different. It is hard to switch off and keep talking to people all we get really is a bit of signing on the pit lane walk so it is nice to come to shows such as this and just be a lot more relaxed so you are able to talk a lot more freely to the public and ultimately the race fans.
You had a successful test just ahead of Christmas, how did you feel about it?
I felt it went absolutely fantastic, I couldn't have written it better myself if it had been scripted! We had three days at Calafat and I really enjoyed the whole experience, riding for the team and we all get on great. Jack Valentine our Team Manager is fantastic and my Crew Chief PJ, along with Simon and Stuart, I've got a nice little team there.
It is all working well and we have gelled together, obviously I've known them all from previous times if you like so everything is all down and the ground work between us is fantastic. It is good and I'm enjoying everything, the testing went really well, we tested a lot of little bits and did some fine tuning. We are basically tailoring the bike to my feelings and I think we have got a really good base setting for this point in time but we will still be doing a lot more work.
Did Jack Valentine work you hard during the test?
He certainly did! There were times when we were just swapping a few things on the bike. The weather was difficult to deal with, we had a lot of wind on the first day and Jack would keep showing his face and keep mentioning, “Come on lads lets get out.” It did work, he is making sure we get the miles in which is great. The good thing about Jack is he is really passionate about it which is good that is what you want from a team manager and it is just making sure that we get the best out of what we are given. He has a lot of testing scheduled which is superb, can't knock it.
How did your team-mate Atsushi Watanabe get along on the test?
I got on great with Atsushi, his personality is brilliant. We had a good laugh in the hotel after the test, we all stayed and had a drink the following evening and got to know each other a little bit better. In riding from what I've seen of him, I've followed him a little bit, he seems really smooth for your usual Japanese rider. He is definitely fast and he has to change his style a bit to suit our circuits but he is picking that up fairly fast and I think he will be a quick front runner.
You have another test coming up fairly soon are you looking forward to it?
Very much so! We are heading out to Calafat again, we've a lot of testing coming up and I'm really looking forward to this one. We've got more bits to test so I can't wait to get sifting through and sorting them out so we are set-up for the opening round at Brands Hatch.
What have you been up to away from the track?
Not a great deal really, I've got my LTR450 Quad bike form Suzuki which is absolutely fantastic. It is such a good weapon, so I've been playing on that up and down my Grandad's drive which is fairly long. I've just been drifting that round his yard, I'm not sure if he was impressed with that but never mind! He loves it really, and I've left a few black marks on his lovely cobbles.
I've been doing that and just enjoying myself over the Christmas period, spending time with my family, my girlfriend and her family. It has been really nice, chilled out and relaxed. I'm looking forward to testing now, I might squeeze a little bit of a break in between the testing just to try and get out for a week before the season kicks off. Other than that, steady away, having my little coffee shop breaks and that is about it.
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