29 March 2007
Q&A: Dean Ellison - EXCLUSIVE.
by Russell Atkins
Dean Ellison faces a steep learning curve in 2007, after embarking on his maiden campaign in World Superbikes with Team Pedercini. He is hoping to put a trying start to the season behind him as the series arrives on home soil at Donington Park this weekend.
The 29-year-old – a British Superbike veteran – has made the leap up to WSBK this year with the factory Italian outfit, and it is certainly proving to be a challenge. He is slowly finding his feet, however, and is confident of taking a step forward in the coming round…
Dean, this is your first year in World Superbikes. How are you finding things so far?
It's been tough. World Superbikes is by far the hardest thing I've ever jumped into. The biggest thing has been going to new circuits on a bike that is still pretty alien to me, having to learn the tracks and trying to get the bike set-up and adjusted so I feel more comfortable on it while at the same time trying to beat the best riders in the world, or at least get up to their pace. It has been difficult, but there have also been a lot of positives come out of the first two rounds. I've come away with a point and two new circuits in my head, and that will all stand me in good stead next year.
Is it more of a challenge would you say than what you had expected when you first made the jump up?
No, not at all; it's exactly what I expected. I knew it would be hard to go out to Phillip Island and Qatar and get on the pace the top guys are setting. I hadn't ridden the bike for the whole of winter; I only did a couple of cold tests at Valencia, while the likes of (Troy) Bayliss and (James) Toseland were all out in Qatar and Phillip Island doing tests on the race tyres we are using. Everybody had a real upper hand over me, so I knew it was going to be hard. The bike is new to me too. It's got loads of power and is a real quality machine. It takes a lot of work to get it working right.
As you say, your Ducati certainly has plenty of power. How much of a step-up is World Superbikes over British Superbikes in terms of both the bike and the competition on the track?
BSB is full of world-class riders anyway; that's always been the case. I don't think you can say WSBK riders are any better. The only difference is I've got to learn new tracks and get to grips with a new bike and tyres as well. The Pirellis are fantastic and really work well, but they also make the bike handle differently to what I'm use to. The difference is me; I've got to learn new things.
How about the team? How are you settling in there?
It's pretty good. I've been learning Italian, and they've all been going to English lessons too which really helps. Luckily Lucio Pedercini speaks almost fluent English, so I've never had any issues there, and my main suspension guy from Andreani who I talk to most about the bike is also fluent. For me it isn't a problem. I like the Italians, their food and their passion for racing. It rubs off on me.
Looking at the season as a whole, have you set yourself any objectives for the year? Obviously it's all a learning experience, but are there any particular aims you have?
I've got my own personal goals, and really I just want to improve. I want it to work. I'm hungry for good results because I know the bike is capable of them and I know I am too, so I've got to keep pushing and improve every time I get on it. I've also got to sort out whatever is slowing me down at the moment, but I think we've got to the bottom of that now. I've worked closely with Andreani and we think we've got a good base setting for Valencia. We struggled with the bike set-up for the first two rounds but by the time I get to Donington I think I will be full of beans. I know where I'm going round there, it's my home circuit and it should be good.
Like you say, Donington is a home circuit for you. You raced in front of your home fans in BSB all the time. How special is it going to be competing in front of those same fans but on the world stage now?
When you are in BSB you do see the same people all the time. For 13 rounds it's the same paddock and the same people, and there are a lot of friends I haven't seen since last year. It will be nice to come back; I've got a new bike and have been out and done some races, so I should be sharper than usual at this time of year. It will just be nice to come back and see my family and friends and a lot of fans I haven't seen for a while.
So it's onwards and upwards now?
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