Are you wary of how competitive your team-mates Ryuichi Kiyonari
and Jonathan Rea are expected to be? What do you make of them?
It's much better for me and for the team to have competitive team-mates. I don't want a slow rider next to me because they would contribute nothing to the team, we would have no knowledge to exchange and there would be no collaboration. Jonathan is young and talented and strong, he has already shown this and he will certainly be a force next year. Kiyo has already won three races in his rookie season and he was really, REALLY strong in England! We have a good relationship - we won the 8-hour race together this year and we were recently in Japan with Honda for a big celebration. If he is doing well, I am very happy for him and I think he feels the same about me.
With two new manufacturers arriving in 2009, how do you rate the competitiveness of World Superbikes at the moment?
We will have to wait and see how next season develops but I think this current period for WSBK is the best it has ever had. In previous years it was all about Ducati and maybe one or two others, but I think that, in the next year and in the years after, this championship will grow even stronger. The organisers and the management must continue doing what they've been doing recently because it's surely working well.
Other than you, who do you consider will be a threat for the title in 2009?
Haga, Biaggi and Neukirchner. I'm not sure about BMW and, although the new Yamaha looks like it will work very well, I think it is asking a bit too much for the riders to be really competitive in their first season. Aprilia is a little different from BMW in that they have some racing history and the proper factory support will make it a strong package. We'll have to wait and see how they apply the homologation rules for the road bike but it will be a good and competitive season for sure.