Candidly admitting that he had no other choice than to return to the World Superbike Championship (WSBK) in 2010 after losing his MotoGP ride with Tech 3 Yamaha, James Toseland has vowed to 'start up again from where [he] finished off' two years ago – as he predicts a bumper season ahead for British competitors.
The Yorkshireman was released by Tech 3 off the back of a disappointing brace of campaigns in the premier class – yielding no finish higher than sixth place, as 2009 team-mate Colin Edwards tallied almost twice as many points and ascended the rostrum along the way, somewhat cruelly on Toseland's home turf at Donington Park.
Having entered the field with a glittering reputation as a double World Superbike Champion, two years later that same reputation lay in shreds – and now he knows he has to rebuild it with Yamaha's factory WSBK effort in 2010.
“I view it that I didn't have any choice,” the 29-year-old told Crash.net Radio
, when asked how he felt about the step back down again. “I lost my position in MotoGP, but I'm pleased now it's all over – because there was a lot of speculation about me losing my job for a long time – and that I can concentrate on my new challenge.
“I feel very fortunate to be riding a bike that can win races still – there's not many about; there's not many rides that you'd want to have and that also pay. It's a difficult time for everybody in the industry, and I'm just pleased that I've got a good bike that can win races and I can go out there and put a good show on and taste some champagne obviously.”
A productive couple of tests at Portimão – “It was a tough track to learn on a new bike, because the undulation is incredible, but I really enjoyed it and I enjoyed riding the bike,” he reflected – and Valencia have got the rebuilding process off to an encouraging start, and Toseland also admits that he is looking forward to working with new team-mate Cal Crutchlow, the reigning World Supersport Champion, reasoning that 'it's nice to have an English-speaking team-mate so we can maybe have a bit of banter once we take our helmets off'.
Indeed, with such a plethora of British riders in WSBK next year, the Sheffield-born star knows he will have his work cut out merely to be the best of his countrymen, let alone the best in the world – but as he eyes making history as the first rider to win three titles in the series with three different manufacturers following his previous crowns with Ducati (2004) and Honda (2007), he insists pressure will not be a problem.
“The young Brits aren't going to make it easy for me, that's for a fact!” he acknowledged. “I think on a regular basis next year in the World Superbike Championship, you could see three British riders filling the podium up, which is going to be great for the country.
“I'm still as bloody-minded as I always was and I just want to win, so I'm really looking forward to it. The package I've got is capable of winning, so now it's down to me to actually show that, and I'll be training hard and getting up to fitness before the season starts. The bike has won the championship this year, and I just hope I can keep that success up for them. I left as a world champion, and I want to start up again from where I finished off.
“[Three world titles with three different manufacturers] is a great prospect, but Mr. Fogarty has four, so even if I do that there will still be another challenge – and after that I'm sure I'll find another challenge as well. Just to win three world championships would be amazing, though – that's what I'm here for and why I've signed for Yamaha again – and I'll be preparing myself to try and achieve it.”TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE