In Supersport because of the tight rules it's a more level playing field, you can't make great changes on the bike. It does generate better and closer racing for the spectator, but for me trying to create the perfect racing machine is the interesting challenge because it exercises your brain as well as your ability.
I am one of those riders who spends a lot of time with their crew developing the bike, I'm very involved in the technical side of things. I can spend whole evenings with my data guy working through problems, I like to understand what's going on. And at the moment the bike needs to improve a lot.
My crew chief Chris Pike's worked with me all through my BSB career and WSBK and he's a world of experience. He knows when I need a kick in the ass and when I need a cuddle!
Is it true you turned down a Xerox Ducati ride when first going into WSBK?
At the time I had someone acting on my behalf and I had that option in front of me and we just needed to sign. But there were a couple of details holding me back.
In the meanwhile my father and I went to Ten Kate and immediately felt part of the family, it was the first time in their careers that they had committed to a rider so long term. I was only 19 and felt it better to have a learning year not in the spotlight and I won races in my first year of WSS.
One of those wins was at Brands on the tragic day when your friend Craig Jones died wasn't it?
I spent a great deal of time with Craig, I lived with him and his girlfriend in 2005. As a rider, it was horrific. You see red flags and are told there's been a bad accident.
From the outside, racing's a job, but in WSBK riders tend to get together in each other's motorhomes a lot and Craig, Tommy [Hill] and myself used to often get together, that night the atmosphere without him was surreal and grim. I've never experienced that before and never want to again.
How would you describe the Ten Kate team?
For me they're a family. That means that when I'm on track, I can trust that they've done their part to the best of their ability. They're very passionate and I appreciate and value every member of the team. When we win, the feeling's amazing, but when we lose, we lose together. It kind of makes the highs higher and the lows lower because of that bond.
What's your perspective on the first 2013 WSBK round at Phillip Island?
It was the first round and we came away from it much better than I thought we would. Coming out as joint fifth in the championship was something I couldn't have imagined during testing.
After the race I realised what a lot of work we've got to do with the electronics and how many mine fields you come up against when developing a new system. The electronics were knocking my confidence and looking at the race afterwards it was clear that I wasn't riding comfortably, I was struggling to trust the electronic system.