An exclusive mid-season interview with JG Speedfit Kawasaki team principal Mark Smith-Halvorsen who reflects on his team's rapid rise in the MCE British Superbike championship and what the future holds.
Hello Mark, the last time we had a chat with you in November 2013 you told us about your five-year plan set in 2010 for the team. We're coming to the end of that plan so has GBmoto met your expectations?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
We wrote our five-year plan in 2010 for the start of the 2011 season so this is year five. I think from a sporting perspective, aside from a bit of bad luck James Ellison has suffered, he is there or there about. With the breakdown of the championship and if our rivals get some of the bad luck we've had then who knows. Ellison is an outsider because he is lacking the Podium credits but it might just happen.

From a commercial point of view we are closer to paying the bills this season than the last one. Still not as close as I would like, but I'd say we are 60-70% from achieving our financial goals. Sporting perspective we are at 75% success and from a supplier and manufacturer relationship I'd say we've cracked it. I'm happy but there is room for improvement.
Reflecting on the 2015 season ahead of the Showdown, how do you feel it has gone for the team?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
We've specialised in highs and lows this season. Some of the reasons we've been in the press haven't been the most positive with the injuries and crashes but whatever we do we've been very open and honest and of course highs and lows make for a good read.

I'm a competitive chap so from a sporting point of view I'm pretty devastated but it is only bad luck that has let us down. In terms of the jobs that people are doing both at the track and away from it I'm happy. With a bit of better luck I think we will get better results.
This year has seen momentum come in waves for the leading teams. GBmoto started strongly, then PBM Kawasaki fought back and now Milwaukee Yamaha seem to have the upper hand. What will your team do to try and secure some momentum heading into the Showdown?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
It's been like a sexually transmitted disease! Looking back, in 2014 we finished our third year in the championship gaining some decent experience and our momentum was good. Even though James Ellison grabbed really creditable podiums in the final races he was still on the comeback trail from injury and it was obvious he wasn't able to run with the title fighters and the front. But we didn't anticipate the same thing this year.

We deliberately deployed a tactic to stop him racing at Cadwell Park [last weekend] because I think we would have been slightly uncompetitive and there was a higher chance he could injure himself again. So the tactic has been to make him get himself back to full fitness ahead of Oulton. I'm not blas? enough to think we have enough of a buffer and we will need some results at Oulton. Our tactic is to get him fit, get some really positive results and move into the Showdown all guns blazing.
What targets have you set both riders for the end of the year?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
It is as simple as staying on the podium and wining some races for both riders. We need to get back to race-winning form as soon as possible and with only the triple-header at Oulton Park before the Showdown it needs to be during this period.

Ellison needs good luck and unfortunately based on the Podium credits the top two guys are going to need bad luck but that is the entertainment of the sport we are in. Not only can that happen it does seem to happen and I have no doubt the race for the title will go down to the last race. To be within a shot at Brands Hatch is our aim.

For Westmoreland we made a change to the technical team on his side of the garage and since those changes his results have stepped forward massively. His state of mind has also improved because of the changes in the same way his results have.
The bad luck you've suffered like Ellison's injuries, has it ever had a negative effect on the rest of the team?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
The guys we've got are great and all understand how racing works. Rather than get frustrated they've been disappointed because everybody knows it can and does happen. I think also everyone is grown-up enough to know we don't just sit there and moan. It is life. You pick yourself up and look forward to making a positive out of what comes next.
Thinking ahead to 2016, the Yamaha machine looks like it will be the one to beat. How much of a step forward are you expecting next year?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
The Yamaha bike is starting to surpass the Kawasaki in 2015. Our relationship with Kawasaki has been fantastic and we really enjoy working with a host of people at Kawasaki Motor UK and they've been very supportive of us and what we do. We are their official entrant and we are talking to them seriously about that continuing over the next two to three years. We've had some technical support from Japan and Kawasaki Motor Europe and we are looking forward to more of that in the future.
We started this interview talking about your five-year plan. What will be in your next long-term plan?

Mark Smith-Halvorsen:
I want to write something for the next three years and I'll be doing that almost certainly before the year is out. I can't comment on it yet but it will definitely outline goals in a similar way to the plan from the end of 2010.