100%. I had so many expectations and hopes of winning on a factory bike. The first four races I did I was actually quicker than Max and even though I might have had a bad qualifying or problem in the race, I was catching him during it. The last time I beat him at Assen, the next time out I didn't get anywhere near him and I was thinking 'What's going on here then, all of a sudden I've gone from being quick to being nowhere over the whole weekend - something's changed'.
I think it was from Monza on that the team told me that Max had a different engine to me. They actually told me. And that was it, I had 100% different kit. The engines were different specs for sure and they also wanted me to run an under seat tank which I also didn't like.
It wasn't a good situation and to be honest it's enough to break you down a little, it's massively discouraging and you start questioning yourself and your riding. I'd been racing against all the other Brits in WSBK all my racing life and know I can beat them, but suddenly I was nowhere near them. It was hard to cope with.
I'd come back from the race or over the winter and I'd never hear from them ever. I wouldn't have a single phone call over the winter and you felt that there was no care about me being at the front.
It wasn't that the team were against me, it was that the situation wasn't there for me to win, it was for Max to win. I can understand it to a certain degree because Max was probably capable of winning the championship and I probably wasn't in the first year.
How did it end with Aprilia?
It was mutual, I had no interest in continuing unless a lot of things got changed. I asked for those changes in the second year but nothing got done.
Which changes are we talking about?
I'd really rather not say. There were some people I wanted moving around and it didn't happen.
How would you compare the two teams?
The Suzuki set up is really small in comparison but everyone puts in a massive effort to put in the best they can. Everyone is just so passionate about their job, not that they weren't at Aprilia, it's just that the guys at FIXI Crescent Suzuki commit their lives to it 100%. There's a good feeling in the team, everyone gets on and you handle the successes and lows together. It's like a family feeling.
I never have to question that the boys are doing their best or that I have to push someone to make something happen. I remember at Aprilia, a few times I had to come in and shout a bit and get angry, not with the mechanics, with the team structure, and things would improve a bit after that. At FIXI I never feel the need to do that.
It almost sounds like an issue of trust?
100%. I feel I can trust FIXI Crescent Suzuki.
How would you compare Max and Jules (Cluzel) as team mates?
I got on well with Max to be honest, there was never a problem between me and him, he didn't help me or anything - you've got to beat your team mate, but we got on.
In comparison Jules doesn't expect people to do everything for him and he's quite humble in the best way, he's not arrogant. I think that attitude means he'll go far.