James Toseland insists that despite having been forced out of MotoGP before he felt his time was up, he 'certainly didn't fail' in motorcycling's premier class – as he hints that he has unfinished business there and hopes one day to return to set the record straight.
Following a mixed debut campaign with Tech 3 Yamaha in 2008 – beginning brightly but ultimately lacking the consistency to challenge regularly for the leading positions, as his results fell away in the latter stages – much was anticipated of Toseland in 2009, but unfortunately for him, there was scant improvement and the end-of-season score sheet showed that he had indeed tallied 13 fewer points than twelve months earlier.
A number of factors contrived to blight the double World Superbike Champion's efforts, with a brace of accidents in pre-season testing – one of which left him briefly concussed – putting him on the back foot right from the word 'go'. Worse still, a crew chief swap with team-mate Colin Edwards following some communication issues with Frenchman Guy Coulon in 2008, created a somewhat thorny relationship with the American during the early part of the season after the Texan was left out of the loop regarding the switch.
Indeed, Edwards was so incensed that he demanded a wall be erected to divide the two halves of the Tech 3 garage and revealed that the pair 'didn't talk anymore' [see separate story – click here
], and if the British star assures that the rift has now healed over, it clearly did little to make things any easier for him early on. Bike set-up woes and jump-start penalties only served to add to his tribulations.
Though he finished inside the points in every race bar two, Toseland's best finishes were a trio of sixth places, whilst Edwards was rarely outside of the top seven and achieved a podium finish – cruelly, perhaps, on his team-mate's home turf at Donington Park. Respectively fifth and 14th in the final standings at the end of the campaign said it all – but the Yorkshireman is adamant that he has no regrets.
“No, not at all,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “I was given the opportunity to move my career forwards and to challenge myself against the elite and the best in the world. As a kid growing up in this game, I felt very fortunate to get the opportunity to do that. The 17 or 18 riders out there are all world champions in their own right – in 125cc or 250cc or Superbike – and that's the level it's at. To enter into MotoGP, you've got to become a world champion at something.
“Everything was there to be had; Colin rode great on the same package, and that was what it was capable of. I didn't perform to the level I should have, which risked my job, and with Ben Spies doing so well in Superbikes that was the case. There's a reason behind it obviously, but I don't think it's a talent issue because in qualifying I nearly put it on pole position for my first GP (in 2008) and I had nine sixth places, which is no mean feat on a satellite bike in MotoGP.
“[The fall-out with Edwards] was just a load of rubbish that the media made up. The engineer that worked for him wanted to switch, and there were issues between him and Colin obviously because of that, but actually there was no issue between me and Colin whatsoever personally. Everybody made a fuss of it in the winter-time – when there's no bike racing going round the tracks, the journalists have to fill the papers with something – but we sorted it out pretty quickly.
“Overall, it was a tough year and we had a few problems, but I really, really enjoyed the challenge. I was upset and disappointed [to lose the ride], because I felt like the challenge wasn't over and I wanted another opportunity, but unfortunately circumstances were the way they were and you've got to move on to wherever it takes you. We certainly didn't fail, but the inconsistency this year cost me being able to carry on at this point.”