4 September 2008
Jack Valentine (Rizla) - Q&A, EXCLUSIVE.
When Rizla Suzuki announced they would be heading to the World Superbike round at Brands Hatch, there was quiet confidence that a good result was possible.
However, after Tom Sykes qualified on the second row and ran with the leaders in the two races, the team have since been rewarded with another outing on the world stage at Donington Park.
Looking ahead to this weekend's action, team manager Jack Valentine tells Crash.net that a second appearance is a great boost for the team, not to mention the in-form Tom Sykes...
When we last spoke to you at Brands Hatch, you said it was unlikely you would compete at Donington Park - but here you are…
Our budget for this year was for the BSB Championship, but we had the extra round that was snowed off, while we has also planned to do the World Superbike round with one rider, obviously Tom Sykes, so that is my budget. But we had such a successful Brands Hatch and we had people asking whether or not we were going to do Donington. The answer at the time was no because there was no budget to do it, but our sponsors Rizla and Suzuki have come to us and given us the chance to the event and we are very pleased. They are pleased with how the team is performing, as well as the PR we are getting out of it, which means we were able to do Donington.
How pleased are you and the team to be getting the chance to impress on the world stage again?
This is great for the team. Our main aim is to secure second place in the British Championship, but it is a big boost for the team to go to Donington and show what we can do again. It can only sharpen Tom up as a rider and the team around him too.
Have you revised your expectations after Brands?
Not really, no. We are just going there with a very level-headed approach, but we are fairly confident we can do well in Superpole and that has to be the first aim. Hopefully it'll be dry and we can have a go at Superpole as it should be run. If we can improve on Tom's position from Brands Hatch, then that would be fantastic. I want to be able to finish both races inside the top five - anything else would be a bonus.
Is there a side aim this weekend to be the best of the wild-card contingent?
For sure, it has to be our objective to be the top wild-card there, but they are just part of the competition and they make the field harder. It is already a very strong field - probably the strongest field of any championship now. You watch MotoGP and the depth in the field is nowhere near World Superbikes. With the addition of Cal, Leon and James, it will make it even harder to get a stronger position, but we are up for it and we're beating them regularly in BSB, so there is no reason why we can't in World Superbikes.
Would you rather have it be dry or wet this weekend?
The weather will have a bearing. It is slippery enough at Donington without it being wet, but it is the same for everyone, so it just turns into a bit of a lottery. If it is wet, then we will have to suck it and see. Tom rides well in the wet, so it is just up to us to get the bike set up right for those conditions. If it is wet then I hope it is properly wet, with none of these damp, on-off conditions.
Are you conscious about interest Sykes' is garnering from the World Superbike paddock?
He deserves every bit of interest he is getting. You have to expect that. We are proud that Rizla Suzuki have been part of what has been attracting people to him, but we are hoping to put a package together for next year. He has said he wants to stay within the Suzuki family, so at this time of the year I think there is a strong bet he will stay with us.
Is there a consideration of graduating up to the World stage full-time next season?
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