When I had problems before Assen, it wasn't just my guys who were working on my bike, it was the whole team. I think at one point I had 15 guys working on my bike! It's a very unique philosophy and the mechanics have worked on the Honda for many years and often work 24/7. They've got huge depth of knowledge. In contrast to BMW, Ten Kate is all about bikes rather than cars.
It's a very pulled-together friendly team and when I do badly, the whole team does badly. When I do good we all do good. We stand and fall together. The frustrating thing for me is that just when I could see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel at Assen, I break my leg.
How 'factory' is the Pata Honda team?
We've got a great relationship with Honda, we communicate directly with HRC and we've always got Japanese technicians helping us out. The team's run by Ten Kate but it's fair to say that it is half factory in that we get direct connection and support from HRC and we report directly to them. Now that we're using new HRC electronics package we're working even more closely with them.
When you sign Leon Haslam, you're also signing the Haslam family right?
My father is employed by Honda in the race school and also to help out Honda riders on circuit even down to the rookie cup riders. On top of all that, he's also there for me every race and it's a great help to me to have a second set of eyes on circuit.
Sometimes he has found it difficult to be accepted into a team as my father, at BMW there were some issues at the beginning for example, but it usually only takes them a few rounds to realise what a benefit he is. 99% of the time if I come and say I've got a particular problem, he'll have come in beforehand and said exactly the same thing. His expert opinion allows us to pinpoint problems for resolution.
My wife and mother travel with me to races and just take care of everything I need to live; clothing, leathers equipment, planning schedules and PR - they do it all. When I'm at the circuit I don't have to worry or think about anything other than racing and all I have to do is turn up and ride the bike.
Ollie gets nervous when I'm on the bike, but if she didn't it wouldn't be normal. The nerves are all part of the job and show the passion we've got for racing. I get nervous before a race but more because I want to do well rather than being scared.
My baby daughter came to her first race at eight weeks old and I've got separate living quarters for her so there is no bother overnight. When you have a tough year like my last one at BMW, having my daughter there definitely put a smile back on my face a few times.
I've got a really good family unit around me.
Among his many achievements, your father was very successful at the TT, are you ever tempted to ride it?
I go to the TT pretty much every year. I'll go again this year with Gary Dunlop (Joey Dunlop's son) for my 30th. It's a fantastic event and you've got to admire the guys who do it. I don't feel it's right for me at this stage in my career, but it's something that I never would count out. The TT's a challenge on its own so you would have to focus entirely on that.
Thanks Leon and hoping to see you ride at Donington.