I'm not using this as an excuse, but the crash in BSB took me a long time to recover from physically. Also I felt I'd just lost something. I wasn't slow and did some good stuff, I had a fourth in my first year I think, it was just that I was getting stronger really, really step by step and it was a very slow route to full recovery and full confidence.
Then with Effenbert [Ducati] the bike was working well and I started getting some good results and they built on themselves. It didn't work out in the end though.
So you were winning at Effenbert and were 'sacked for bad results'?
Yeah, that was ridiculous, it was just a bit of a mess. They sent that days after I'd told them that I wasn't going to ride for them anymore. This was what you call a bit of a PR mess from their side, it made no sense. They didn't respect their contract, so we told them 'enough is enough' because we had tried really hard to make it work.
In what way didn't they respect their contract?
I don't think I'm allowed to discuss that. I think most people know, I can't discuss it though.
What is it like at Aprilia?
When I joined the team and went for the first practice, the shocking thing was the calm in the garage. Everything gets done so quickly, quietly and efficiently. It's a great, great atmosphere; it's like a well-oiled machine. There's no craziness around, and you don't drop tools in that garage if you know what I mean. If you do drop a tool everyone would probably look at you surprised.
Going into that garage is like entering a very peaceful place where people are motivated and always have their eye on the target. It's a very good way of managing the team, you know why your there, what you've got to do and there's no messing about.
At Effenbert I was the underdog and everything was a bonus, at Aprilia though there is expectation. I like that pressure, you need it, it makes you better. I feel that this year is definitely the right one for me to have that pressure of being on a championship winning bike in a championship winning team. I love that position, it's great, it's motivating, it's challenging and interesting.
Even when you might be battling with Eugene, Luigi Dall'Igna always looks totally calm, is he really like that?
Gigi is someone who's got a lot on his shoulders. I think what we see is not what's going on inside, I know he's very passionate about winning and racing. From the outside though, he always looks calm.
How are you getting on with the RSV4?
People say that it was designed for Max Biaggi
and is very small, but it doesn't feel like Max's ex-bike, it feels like my bike. The bike looks compact because the tail is quite thin and small, there's actually quite a lot of room on the bike though. I can fit in fully on the straights no problem at all, it doesn't feel like a small bike. The finish and detail on it are incredible.
For sure it's fast, very fast and when you ride it you get the feeling that it's very sharp and precise. You can tell straight away that it's really well sorted. For me it's the best bike I've ever ridden, I love riding that bike.
For me it's like those boys toys you get, like the latest state of the art bicycle or when you get a really nice car, you have the feeling that you're playing with the best there is. I'm sure that if you measured your level of testosterone before riding the RSV4 and afterwards, you'd see the difference.