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Jules Cluzel - Q&A

Crash.net catches up with Jules Cluzel to discuss the recent changes at MV Agusta and his burgeoning World Supersport title challenge.
Crash.net:
Hi Jules, are you in Andorra now?

Jules Cluzel:
Yes, yes from last winter. It's up in the mountains and is really good for training. Leon Camier is actually one of my neighbours and Bradley Smith lives close by too, we're all together now.

Crash.net:
Did you feel that it ended OK at Suzuki?

Jules Cluzel:
Honestly I think it all went OK and I've got no hard feelings from them, I think my team mate from last year(Leon Camier) may disagree though. I've got no worries there but perhaps they did keep me hanging on for too long which meant that I had to make a quick choice at the end of last season, but in the end I think I made a good one.

I only actually knew I was going to MV in November last year, straight after the last race. The MV is perhaps a bit of an unknown quantity but I could see how it was doing in Christian Iddon's hands so felt that I could make the difference. In the end, I made the choice to go there, nobody pushed me and I think I made a good one. There is perhaps more work to do developing the bike but you can see we're making good progress.

Crash.net:
Was your contract with Yakhnich or MV?

Jules Cluzel:
It's with Yakhnich.

Crash.net:
So what has happened with that contract now?

Jules Cluzel:
Well, in an administrative way everything has changed but from my point of view there has been none. I'm working directly with MV, they're happy with what I'm doing and we're just continuing like that. From my point of view the biggest change is the colour on the bike.

Crash.net:
..and who's paying you?

Jules Cluzel:
Sorry, that's a business question so you'll have to ask my manager, but one thing is for sure, I am getting paid!

Crash.net:
At what point did you know that Yakhnich were withdrawing?

Jules Cluzel:
Just before the last race, at the last minute, in the week before the race weekend. We hadn't got any indication before that. There was never any feeling that the whole team would stop though because my manager was in close discussions with MV and it was clear they wanted to continue.

It's my manager's job to take care of all this business so that I can stay calm and take care of the racing. Luckily I was really kept isolated from the change.

Crash.net:
Is there any change in the people you actually work with day to day during racing?

Jules Cluzel:
Everybody is the same but the big difference is that we've changed suspension. We used to use Biturbo and we've moved to Ohlins

Crash.net:
To what degree does using Ohlins contribute to your current excellent performance?

Jules Cluzel:
I haven't been able to compare the 2 on the same track but even though we started the weekend at zero with a bad feeling from the suspension, working with Ohlins meant that by the end we were able to be fastest with a great feeling from the bike. Working together we were able to tune the suspension for every aspect and by race day I was ready to go.

For sure working with Ohlins will hopefully mean that we can find more improvement for the future but the big thing will be that we have a new engine evolution coming.

We analysed where we losing time at the beginning of the season and the new engine will address things. There's a strong MV factory involvement in the team, you can see that they feel they can be world champions again and that seems to have made them work very hard for this goal.

Crash.net:
How did the feel of the MV compare with the Honda that you'd previously ridden?

Jules Cluzel:
It is different but I'd been riding a superbike in between anyway so there wasn't a great shock. The first thing I noticed though is the noise, a triple always sounds great and it has a different character to go with it.

The Honda is far more refined and linear whereas the MV is more peaky and responsive. In fact the whole bike almost feel more 'nervous', you can really feel that the bike is alive. That overall feeling comes from everything, the engine, the brakes, the chassis. For that reason it's often not easy to control but when I'm able to tame it we can do great things.

Crash.net:
Is it a more difficult bike to ride?

Jules Cluzel:
Yes, I'd say so. It's a great bike for my riding style though; I like things a little edgy.

Also because of last year I'm riding it a little more like a superbike and that seems to work with it. My experience at Suzuki was really useful in that respect. The bike is great for corner speed but because of the power delivery you have to get the bike stood up to open the throttle and that style is more like one you'd use for the bigger bikes. Understanding that style is really the key to getting the best from the MV. We're starting to make it work now

The other thing I have to say is that it really is a beautiful machine, to me it looks like the best bike in the world and when a bike looks that way it makes you want to ride it more. I just like looking at it. The whole thing, the name, the history, the bike, it's all alive.

Crash.net:
Given you improvement over the weekend, did you feel you could win the race right from the start?

Jules Cluzel:
Actually no, my strategy was just to be first in the first turn and then push like crazy. I knew that Michael Van Der Mark was strong everywhere. When I saw that I was able to make a gap though I thought that I might possibly have the win, the only problem was that the gap stayed pretty small.

I had to really concentrate, always check my pit board and when I saw that a certain rider had appeared behind me I had to be both fast and consistent. It looked easy but for me it wasn't an easy race. I just managed the gap, the problem was that the gap wasn't big enough to relax because I know the way Michael can come back at the end of a race. It was only when we got to the last three laps that I really felt that the win was within reach.

Crash.net:
Could you have gone faster?

Jules Cluzel:
Yeah, maybe, maybe. I had done 39.5's or 6's at my fastest in practice and could do 39.8's or 9's when I was riding at a more relaxed pace but I could see straight away that I needed to go back to those 39.5's to manage the gap in the last 4 or 5 laps and that's what I did.

Any faster than that and I would have been riding past the limit, if I'd been pushed further I might have had to do that but crashing would have been more possible. Having said that, that's the speed we've got at the moment and I think there's more to come as the season goes on so I'm looking forward to that.

Crash.net:
As a battling rider, do you find those kind of controlling races difficult?

Jules Cluzel:
For sure I like to fight but I'd lost out to Michael in the last race so I was happy to make the race more of a sure thing. I feel a sense of achievement that my experience allowed me to ride in that way, the only problem is that it's mentally tiring. It's like a game of chess always looking at the board, who is behind you and playing the gap.

It was a really vital win because if we'd done badly on Sunday I think the championship would have been impossible. If Michael had taken 5 more points from us I think that would have been the end and the pressure was very high at that race to get some points back. That explains why I looked so happy at the end. It really was a key race.

Crash.net:
It's interesting that we're talking about the WSS championship without mentioning a certain Turk?

Jules Cluzel:
Kenan has had problems and I feel that he hasn't got Michael's pace this season but I would really like Kenan to come back and be at the front with us because I feel him being there could help me.

To have another rider battling at the front means another rider who can take points from Mark. It's another factor which will affect the lottery. I always enjoy racing with Kenan, some people have had problems with him but I'm always happy to race with him. It's cool for me.

Crash.net:
And lastly, any decisions for next year?

Jules Cluzel:
It's already decided, I'll be staying at MV. I really believe in this project and I think MV are happy with what I've done. Basically, I'm happy, they're happy and my manager is happy so we'll continue like now.

Crash.net:
In which case Jules, I'll say that I'm happy too and say thanks very much for taking time out to talk to us.

Jules Cluzel:
Sure

by Christian Tiburtius


Tagged as: MV Agusta , iddon , Cluzel

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
VD Mark, Cluzel and Jacobsen, Misano WSS600 Race, 2014
VD Mark and Cluzel, Misano WSS600 Race, 2014
VD Mark and Cluzel, Misano WSS600 Race, 2014
Cluzel, Misano WSS600 2014
Cluzel, Misano WSS600 2014
Cluzel, Misano WSS600 2014
Pata Honda`s Michael van der Mark celebrates podium finish at Phillip Island
Pata Honda`s Michael van der Mark during testing at Phillip Island

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Shrieker

June 30, 2014 5:46 PM

For some reason he came across as snooty to me before, but judging from the interview he seems like a real nice down to earth lad. Crash does these interviews really well, i wish this one was longer.



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