How much does it help adapting to the demands of road racing when you are with an outfit like Ryan Farquhar's impressively turned out KMR team?
When things are right then it's difficult to say no. I'm riding Ryan's bike again at Armoy. I know it'll be as well prepared as our little Supersport bikes. I wouldn't do it for anyone else, as you know when you sit on it that you don't need to worry; you know the bike will be right.
It's the same riding for Bloomington's at Indianapolis. They prepared an awesome bike the first time I did it [in 2011] and I can just turn up, not have to worry, turn up, jump on the bike and go. That makes it easier than having the headaches about the preparation beforehand.
Part of your job includes imparting some wisdom on to your riders. But what is it like being on the other side, when you have someone with Ryan's experience advising you?
Well, he would probably advise me not to do Armoy because it's quite technical! But I love technically challenging tracks. I said to him that I would do it and said “come along, give me as much advice as you can.” Because he isn't riding the course his advice is really helpful, even on set-up although he has quite a different riding style to mine.
At the North West 200 we had the Maxton suspension guy so he was able to go on my settings from last year. I had asked for some changes the first year I rode the bike and he had them there for me at the North West.
I was really impressed with that and it was more than I expected to be honest. I thought we were starting with a clean sheet again when I turned up yet he had something that we had been working on already the year before.
With the suspension set-up, everything worked for me and it's nice working with a team that have been in that game for so long. It takes the pressure off because it is nerve wracking turning up at a road race that you've never raced before, having to learn it.
But I suppose that's part of the fun.
You mentioned after this year's North West race that you felt you were riding within your capabilities. How do you have to adapt your riding style to cope with the demands of a road race?
Honestly, it's a completely different style of riding. I don't ride like I would on a circuit, I ride with an awful lot left in reserve. You've got to leave margins but of course that might change depending on who's on the grid beside me.