James Toseland is determined to hold onto and extend his World Superbike Championship lead at the first of his home rounds at Donington Park on the 1st April. Apart from racing he has been busy with his music as he told Crash.net Radio….
You have got your season off to a fantastic start; can you give us a run down on how it went?
Amazing start really. I knew pre-season testing had gone well. During the testing you write down your own personal times with the team and you pass those onto the newspapers and I think Troy Bayliss and his mechanics had a special stop watch because during preseason testing I kept hearing about these times he was doing and I was thinking “Christ.” His times were unbelievable but I do believe he did them, but fortunately he isn't doing them now!
Race pace I knew I was there or there abouts, just for the one lap wonders it wasn't so spectacular but I was always in the top three. Preseason testing this is probably the best season we have had and then going to the first race at Qatar having a big battle with Max Biaggi the new boy in town and I really raced hard with him. I did some hard passing on him and he did it to me as well. He got the better of me in the first race, he rode a fantastic race but I was refusing to do the same mistake in race two and we won that. Same again in Australia, I went out in Phillip Island against Troy Bayliss and he was riding really well. I set off doing 1min 32s all the way through the race, and on the Friday and Saturday no one could match that. I thought after about 12 laps out of 22 I was going to get a second gap, a two second gap and three second gap but typical Troy Bayliss hangs onto the back of me, saves his tyre and comes past and beats me into second. I was a bit devastated by that. I was just shocked as I didn't think he had that pace in him after Friday and Saturday.
So the second race I went out and did 33's for the first 12 laps and that meant the other guys Biaggi, Corser and Haga came with us. It made a fantastic race on TV but I knew I had that in reserve and with four laps to go I pulled the pin. Typical Bayliss again he come with us and I'm thinking “Don't do it again.” On the last lap I did my fastest lap of the race and I was really pleased with myself as to how tactically I rode that race. To be leading the championship by 16 points after two rounds is amazing especially now going to Donington Park.
You seem very relaxed this year have you got a different approach to this season?
I'm not really. I just knew after last season the way it finished, the latter part of the season I scored more points that Troy Bayliss consistently with no traction control. I knew the traction control was coming eventually but I didn't say anything about it last year as it wasn't possible to have it and I'm just the type of person not to tell everybody that I would be doing this if I had this and that. I hate that all the, ifs, buts and maybes because I still had a package that was capable of being at the front. It was difficult to win races in a few places but when I could I did.
When they rang me up before Qatar and said some Japanese people are coming to Qatar with some electronics I was the happiest boy alive. I knew that could be the difference between finishing second and first and it has been. I'm just so grateful to Honda for giving me that support and it's nice that my success has been recognised especially by the Japanese. I just hope I can keep it up for them for the rest of the season and battle for the championship.
The only unknown for you rider wise was Max Biaggi and now you've beaten him, so was that a big confidence boost?
It was. I watched him when I was a kid racing against Doohan… I said that in a press conference while sat beside him. I thought it was a bit cheeky saying I'd watched him as a kid, bet he felt a bit old then. But yeah, Qatar especially with the big battle for the win, but I've never been in awe of anybody really and especially at this game because you've got to be out there to be counted. He is just another competitor to me but when you go home on Sunday night and you think you've beaten the likes of Max Biaggi, Troy Bayliss and all this, it is such a nice feeling and I'm proud to be racing against them at this level and beating them. It is good for the Championship, Max Biaggi especially as it is on national telly in Italy and brings in a lot of press. It's no good him coming in a clearing up because that would have taken the edge off the World Superbike riders. It is good that it has been competitive because it keeps that attention level.
The media coverage has ramped up too this year, what do you make of that?
I've been on Radio One and even after the racing my brother rang up and said “They've just announced it on the news” the race results. So it is incredible, the national news papers are covering the results, I mean we've got a British guy winning and it is great to be recognised by the English public. I was on Radio Two with Chris Evans the other week, I was writing a song for my Mum for Mother's Day, I've just finished that. Hopefully I can go on and play it for her on Mother's Day. Having the piano and the music as well the radio companies can talk about that as well, it keeps the interest there for those companies especially. Obviously National newspapers like the spin off but the radio is especially good for the music.
You've been involved with a motorcycle orchestra; can you explain what that is?
Rev for a Reason and Bennetts Insurance the motorcycle insurance company have put all this together to raise awareness for safety on the road. I didn't realise this but there are 6,000 deaths and serious injuries a year on the roads that they cover and deal with, they want to get that figure down. I'm playing and they have hired a composer to write a piece of classical music and we are talking classical! I haven't played classical since I was learning when I was young.