Suzuki stopped the bike's development so every result we got that year was a massive bonus. We got 14 podiums that year and we did everything we needed to do. For me it was almost a flawless season, to beat the factory Yamahas and riders like Cal Crutchlow was a great overachievement.
Suzuki were pulling out though. The year I was with Suzuki, the factory support had already been stopped and my contract was with Suzuki. I wanted to go to a bigger more ambitious team, someone with plans for the future. That was one of the main reasons I went to BMW. Suzuki were honest to me about their plans in WSBK and understood my reasons for moving, the split was amicable.
Which year for you stands out as your favourite in your career?
The whole year at Suzuki stands out because of the great results gained on a virtually privateer team against factory teams like Aprilia and Yamaha. Even when we didn't get the results, the way the team was run meant that we could roll with it more.
That's part of the reason I wanted to move to Ten Kate/Pata Honda because of the more old school family atmosphere of everybody working together, which I have definitely missed.
Is there any similarity between the Stiggy Honda you rode and the Pata Honda you are riding now?
Well, it's the same bike all the way back to 2008. Though the one at Ten Kate is far more developed. The engine is stronger now, it's got a new swingarm, but probably the main difference is the new electronics. It's got the same feel as the Stiggy though.
Take us through your two years at BMW…
I signed with 'Mr BMW' and the facilities and money for development were never an issue. In the first year alone we did 42 days of testing, but even with that, the bike and where they were was just too far away.
The first year was very hard and frustrating. It took such a lot to get them to listen, it wasn't that they weren't listening before, it was just that they didn't have any bike experience. They had some of the cleverest people I know in the various fields, but they didn't have any bike experience or knowledge.
The biggest thing that happened in the second year was that Bernhard Gobmeier got more of a hold of things and got Marco [Melandri] on board. Marco bought his crew and therefore the bike information that BMW was missing with him. For me that was the step forward in bike knowledge that the team needed.
My problems in that year were firstly that I broke my leg before the first race and that was just the first in a series of injuries which destroyed my confidence and secondly the information that came with Marco was controlled from Marco's side of the garage. There was a big divide in the team which worked against me.
It was a big disappointment to me because I felt I got the best out of the Stiggy Honda and Suzuki, but never felt like I got to the full potential out of the BMW.