Q&A - Paul Bird, Kawasaki

I have always been an admirer of Broc Parkes. He has always been one of those Supersport riders who is always hungry, always qualifies well, is a real racer... I have always liked something about him because he has zest and venom, plus he has been on a Superbike before and I thought it was time to give him a go again. I'm sure the second time around he will grab it with both hands and give it 110 per cent.
Makoto Tamada didn't enjoy the best of seasons last year – what do you expect from him this year as a second-year rider?

There are lots of things that people would read into the Tamada situation. I have been doing a bit of research into his background and where has come from and what he has done. I think he needs to be looked after properly. He seems to have been mulling around on his own a bit last year, so I am going to try and bring him to our new workshop and the village and hopefully become one of the family. I think that might be something he needs. I am sure we can get him back to the forefront, where he belongs. This guy has gotten up on Sunday mornings knowing he has to go out and beat Valentino Rossi. There aren't many people out there who can say that!
How did you find it working with Broc and Makoto during testing at Portimao?

It was good. It is the first time I have been there, because we have been so busy with the business and building the new workshop, so I haven't had much time. The test was good, though. The bikes were in a fairly basic state there, but since we have been at Portimao, ready for Australia, there has been a lot going on. I am happy and the riders are happy with the engineers in the team. It looks like we are going to have a strong band of people together this year.
What is your impression of the bike and the feedback you are getting from the riders?

I wasn't really listening to them! I was that taken aback by the Portimao circuit, so I was having a look around for a couple of days. I will leave that to the mechanics and engineers, as that is what they get paid for. I am keeping out of the way at the moment, but everything seems fine. I don't think there are many problems and we have lots of updates to come, which will make the team stronger.
The first round also doubles up as Broc's home round – what kind of results can you expect from Phillip Island?

I think Broc is capable of finishing inside the top ten. I think that is a realistic goal for us. If he could have two top tens, then that will be fantastic. The bike is at a basic stage and Kawasaki haven't had a factory effort for several years, so if we could have a couple of top tens from Broc, it would be fantastic. The first round of the year, being his home round, could be good for us. You always ride a little bit harder for your first round, dig a little bit deeper.
Kawasaki didn't have the greatest season last year – with increased competition this year, where do you hope or expect to be by the end of the season?

We haven't set any targets. We want to make sure the manufacturer is happy with us and we do a better job than the previous team did. I am not too sure, because I don't usually sit back and make goals. Obviously, we want to get through the year without any of our riders getting hurt, because that can be a big bugbear, but we need to get out there, do a good job and keep the contract for the foreseen future. In Broc though, I am confident I have a rider that is capable of finishing inside the top ten of the championship, and Tamada, we just need to get his confidence back and make sure he is going to be a regular point scorer.
How long is your Kawasaki contract?

This year, plus an option for the following year. Then they will be launching a new model in 2011, which will be the new ZX10. If we do a pretty good job this year then we will hopefully get the contract for next year. We have done the hard work now, so we have to keep going and strive forward. We have to get stuck in and make sure that we don't lose this.
Kawasaki has been subject of media speculation throughout the winter, mostly concerning their MotoGP operation. Have you had assurances that they will continue in WSBK?

When you look at the budgets for MotoGP, it is astronomical – figures like £40million. Then you look at the top Superbike teams, who have a budget of around £4million, which is a tenth of the cost. For MotoGP, to get anywhere near that, you still need around half of that, which is £20million, so it is a massive amount of money compared to the WSBK guys. At the end of the day, you see a Superbike and it is the one that punters can go and buy on the Monday after the race and you can't do that with MotoGP. I can see MotoGP going through the doldrums in the next few years, whereas we are going to see some good times for World Superbikes. Times are hard, but not as hard as running a MotoGP team
Could Kawasaki's MotoGP withdrawal actually help your World Superbike effort?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Parkes, Tamada, New Superpole practice, Portuguese WSBK Test 2009
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damo - Unregistered

February 18, 2009 2:28 AM

"I don't usually make goals" "I wasn't listening to the riders" "Top 6 or 8 would be good" ... Bit of an odd sounding team manger, sounds like its more of a hobby for him or something.

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