An exclusive interview with new Anvil Hire Yamaha rider James Rispoli who explains how his deal to join Anvil Hire Yamaha came to fruition, reflects on his successful 2015 British Supersport campaign and is goals for his rookie BSB season.

Crash.net:
Hello James, first off congratulations on signing for Anvil Hire Yamaha and making the step up to the British Superbike championship - how did it all came about?

James Rispoli:
It came about because of my personal sponsor Jonathan King at Tamworth Yamaha. I didn't really know about what their plans were because at the time when it first got rumoured I didn't want it on my radar because I thought the team were with Kawasaki and that wasn't something that I was looking at. Then, when it got mentioned by Jonathan that they were switching to R1s and that they were really going to step up their programme and they want to be a Showdown-contending team it really perked by interest.

That is when the first conversations happened and then from there it spiralled upward, literally snowballed and turned into meetings and into what I wanted. Before you knew it there was a deal sitting on the table to be signed. It went pretty quick to be honest.

Crash.net:
So you didn't need too much convincing to sign by the sounds of it?

James Rispoli:
A few little things but that is to be expected with every team. There are some allowances I get because I come from America, so I need a few different things with the visa and flights while everyone can usually drive. Just a few little things and the team was very accommodating, Rob, Tracey and Steve really showed a lot of interest, love and passion for me to be part of the team and Jonathan wanted to see the deal happen because he is heavily involved and that made it a lot easier for me. My first thing is that I have to be around good people, people that I can trust and that is one thing that Keith [Flint, TTC Yamaha] gave me to carry on with that.

Crash.net:
You will become the second American on the BSB grid alongside John Hopkins - what advice has he given you?

James Rispoli:
Hopkins says he thinks I'll be good on a superbike and to be the second American, of course he has a lot more experience than I do, so for me just to be able to learn anything I can from him would be a delight. He'll be on the Yamaha as well so hopefully there won't be too much tension there and he will still give me some tips here and there as we are on the same machine. I'm sure if we do get close to him the tips will start to go away. He seems really, really cool and for me he just wanted to see my career progress like any season, established superbike rider would.

Crash.net:
With Hopkins also on a Yamaha with Tommy Hill's new ePayMe THM team does that make them a special target for you?

James Rispoli:
Not quite, everyone is treated the same. They are as big a target as everyone else and he is in the same league as James Ellison and we can't say those are our direct targets right now. They are on the radar but we need to be realistic about our goals, there is no pressure coming from my side and if anything there will be pressure coming from their side because you can't have a rookie beat you! For me it is a game and I'm fighting for the future whereas they are fighting for championships. So it is a little different as we are coming from different sides but I think if we do end up beating them at all it would be good but it won't be easy, trust me.

Crash.net:
You've had experienced on the Yamaha R6 in British Supersport so how do you think it will it be like adapting to the Yamaha R1 in BSB?

James Rispoli
We were heavily looking into what manufacturer would be the best bike for me moving up from the 600cc. All of the Yamahas bikes tend to have the same characteristics, they like to turn and carve and be off the brakes and we've known that from the old R1 to the R6 to the M1 in MotoGP because I am really good friends with Bradley Smith. It seems like the same characteristics all the way up even though they are different machines and different electronics, you can't overload the front.

So for us if we could get on that R1 it is proven to win and has the same feel as what I had been riding. I've just learnt how to flow on the R6, be fast on it and not over-brake on it. That will be an easier transition than on to something like a BMW where you are just baring it, stopping it and squirting it and using all the power. The way Brookes rode the bike this year is right in my realm from moving up from the 600 so I think the transition is going to be the easiest we can make it.

Crash.net:
Okay and are you anticipating any difficulties for the transition into the superbike class?

James Rispoli:
The pace. I mean, it is like a Moto2 grid out there. I think that is going to be the biggest challenge because if we are not within one second of the pace we are nobody. To be on pace by FP2, FP3 we need to be within that one second bubble to be even sniffing something of a result. Tracks like Knockhill, Cadwell Park, those kinds of tracks are going to be our difficult ones first year around because it was only half a second across the top 20 and it only takes one small mistake.

There aren't big things but we can't go in big-headed and say we are going to destroy this, that and the other and fight for a championship. We have to look at it realistically.

Crash.net:
Looking back at 2015 in British Supersport - how would you rate your season as a whole?

James Rispoli:
We don't look at it as a whole to be honest. We look at it from Snetterton on as the first three rounds were non-existent for us. The team knows that, we know that so we wrote them off. From Snetterton on it was a brilliant season, the team worked amazingly. The two years we put together we finally figured it all out, everything just clicked and to be honest it is a real shame that I had to leave. I am a pretty loyal person, loyal to Keith, Grant, Spider, Ben and Will. My side of the garage those are my boys and it was a bit emotional to be honest.

That being said we are all friends away from the track and they all understand what we have to do. As far as the team I couldn't ask for a better one. Keith especially gave me everything I needed to go and give me a winning bike, Grant the team manager made sure everything was in place and my boys gave me the best bike that we could possibly make. From that I couldn't ask for a better second half to the season. We proved we could run at the front and the good thing is that it showed we could get on the radar for some BSB teams.

Crash.net:
Based on that experience what can you take from that season into 2016?

James Rispoli:
Even though I am leaving one team and going to another I am keeping the same vibe. With Keith there was no pressure whatsoever whether you crashed the bike or won. He always knew we could win and never doubted us. He was very supportive and coming to TAG Racing it is great for my rookie year because it seems like there is the same vibe with nothing coming down on me.

Some teams are very different and expecting. Yes we have expectations but they are there to help nurture me and they want to see me succeed. The only way you can succeed is by positive energy and that is what I saw in this team. I was also able to take my data guy Ben to be my crew chief next year and to take him is going to be an asset for me next year to make the transition so much easier with someone who has seen me perform at all costs and knows what I am capable off. It helps me because I know in the back of my mind he will never doubt me.

Crash.net:
You have said your goal is to be rookie of the year in 2016 and a lot of guys are coming up with you to fight for that tag - how do you see it going?

James Rispoli:
You've got myself, Glenn Irwin and Sam Hornsey at the moment moving up - Luke Stapleford we don't know what he is doing but if he comes up yes he'll be another threat. The biggest thing right now is Irwin on the factory Ducati alongside Shane Byrne, he will be the biggest threat for us moving up. We want to be top rookie and we know what speed we need to be top rookie it is now about how it plays out. We are going to have the right amount of testing we need and if we do our job there is no reason why we can't be top rookie.

Going on with that, it is going to create a lot more chaos in the class. It is hard to take out a bit of supersport axe murders in the first couple of rounds so I think you are going to see a few big moves. While I think it is going to be good as long as those moves are clean and safe it should make the class spicier. I'm not saying it is not already but there will be rookies looking to prove a point - much like in Hockey when they are always fighting. Always trying to prove to the top teams that they can do it. I think you will see more risks taken from us, which is good, but at the same time I think you'll see that the rookies from supersport have got a lot of talent and should be doing well right off the bat.

 

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