James Whitham - Q&A EXCLUSIVE.

I am going to have a look. I know Foggy's made the best sellers list and I know that mine won't… but I'm more bothered that the people who buy it are happy with it, rather than selling a million copies and it not being a good book. If you get someone that is famous they can put anything out and it'll sell, because I've bought biographies and thought 'is that it?' At least with this one, for a motorcyclist, they can have a giggle.
How much are you looking forward to going on your book signing tour?

We have a few dates planned. I've already told them that at the first one, if there is me, a big pile of books and no people, then I am not doing it anymore! I am looking forward to it though. If I thought it was a weak book, I wouldn't be doing it, so in that respect I'm looking forward to it.
You are probably better known at the moment for your work with Eurosport – how much are you enjoying that?

Absolutely. It is so easy for a sportsman to drop out of the loop as soon as you've stopped racing and then you see five years later that they're paying to get in the gate as a punter. This way it is brilliant. If you open a restaurant after racing, or whatever, all that knowledge is wasted. With this I'm spending my time in the paddock bumping into old mates. As an ex-rider, you don't feel as important as you would if you were racing, but you have a job to do. The scary part is that the people I raced with are still in the paddock as technicians or, even worse, some of their sons are actually racing. That makes me feel old!
Does commentating or punditry provide a satisfactory replacement for racing?

The commentary thing is good in a way. There is no way I can go commentating on whatever, like presenters who do anything and read off an autocue, I want to talk about bikes. It is good for me to go in there and spot things that my co-commentator might otherwise miss. I am not stupid enough to think I have the job for any other reason. It is an easy job for me anyway because I'd be sat at home with a cup of tea shouting at the TV! It is the next best thing and you get to travel still, so I have a dead, dead lucky life.
Now to talk about your favourite subject – motorbike racing! Starting with MotoGP, what have you made of the season so far?

I haven't caught every race, but it has been good and not so good in parts. The best race of the season was the one at Laguna Seca, which was brilliant. Just to see two riders at the top of their game, egging each other on, was just fantastic. I am a Rossi fan – I don't know why -, but Stoner comes in for a lot of bad press. The problem these days is that the new riders coming through aren't allowed to be a character. They are PR savvy and they have to thank everybody because there is so much money involved. Rossi gets away with it because of who he is, so I was glad to see him win.
Perhaps the most recent question on most lips is the tussle between Vale and Casey at Laguna Seca – many have come out with opinions on the level of aggression, but what do you think?

I saw it as fairly aggressive, but brilliant racing. I honestly believe that Rossi doesn't have the machine that Stoner has, in that Stoner has clicked with that bike well. I almost see Rossi as a little bit of an underdog, so he is riding beyond the limit in a way. It is so good to watch though and to have someone who has been at the top for so long; it is great to see him continuing to stick his neck out. He was a bit aggressive maybe, although I think Stoner was a little bit sour grapes too. The last thing you should do is complain – you should keep your gob shut and ensure they f****** have it next time!
More relevantly, we have World Superbikes coming to town this weekend at Brands Hatch – with no full-time British riders, who will stand out for you this weekend?

The big British interest will be for the housewives favourite Chris Walker and I wish him all the best. He probably won't mind me saying the best years of his career are probably behind him, but you never know with him. He'll push and maybe even pull something out of the bag because that bike is better than many people think it is. Also, there is Tom Sykes, who is such a good young rider. He doesn't fall off much, but while people have criticised him for not pushing enough sometimes, that is just him being safe and not wanting to crash. He knows he won't win, but he is desperate for a good result. He has a big future in World Superbikes and people will be watching him.
Prediction time: Who do you expect will be the rider to beat this weekend?

You can never discount Haga. He is one of those riders that could finish ninth in one race and then go and win the next. You know how fast he is when things click, but you don't know when it will click. Also, Corser because that Yamaha is a brilliant bike now. They have made some changes that Corser has appreciated and the reason he has got his season back on track is because of this rear suspension change. He is really confident he can turn that into a win at Brands. As for Bayliss, you'd have to chop him into bits to stop him from being at threat! Biaggi went well last year, Neukirchner is doing well... but that is the beauty of the championship because there are so many riders out there who could win!
With Troy Bayliss retiring, who do you reckon is most deserving to replace him at Ducati?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
James Whitham, WSBK Imola, 2006
From Diggers to Ducatis
Carl Fogarty and James Whitham, Friends of Huck charity night [Credit: Carly Rathmell PR]
Gregorio Lavilla (ESP), Airwaves Ducati, 999F07, 36, Superbike; On the grid being interviewed by Fred Clarke during Saturday`s rain delay
Tristan Palmer rounding Club Chicane in Race one at Thruxton on his Vivaldi Kawaskai. (Pic: Peter Downing)
Gary Mason, Team Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha YZF R1 interviewed by TV on the grid
Gary Mason, Team Virgin Mobile Samsung Yamaha YZF R1 interviewed by TV on the grid
The winners of race one are interviewed by TV and radio
Red Piranha Racing`s Simon Andrews being interviewed.
John Reynolds checks out what his 2003 Suzuki will look like.
Leon Camier conducts an interview on the Donington Park podium
Apparently thats what they normally wear..!
WSBK regular Colin Edwards was a surprise guest at Cadwell Park
The Renegade Ducati girls do their Charlies Angels scene.
Sean Emmett in good company on the grid at Thruxton.
BSB stars do battle at Donington 2001.
Steve Hislop faces the press

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