Exclusive interview with British Superbike rider Christian Iddon
I recently sat down for a video chat with Visiontrack Ducati BSB rider Christian Iddon ahead of the 2021 season beginning in June.
Crash.net: Fastest at Snetterton during the week albeit with only one full-ish day of running, but a good test at Silverstone before that too, so how are you feeling after those initial two tests?
Christian Iddon: "Yeah I feel really good! Snet, we weren’t doing the first day anyway, so even though nobody went out, we weren’t there. Day-two was the only day we got any running. Session one was super green and the track was a couple seconds off the pace - a little bit further actually, but we were still quickest and still best in the conditions.
"Then session two was actually not bad conditions. Apart from being a bit windy, the track temperature got up there and it was nice to be quickest in that session. I take a lot more interest in dissecting the real times that people do. By real times I mean how many (laps) people can really do. You get so many putting heaters in, but in terms of real times we were well on the pace so that was good.
"To finish off on Snet, it was a test slash not test as we did such little running that nothing really happened you know. Other than being a little bit of a confidence booster seeing P1 on the board you can’t take anything from it. We weren’t able to really understand too much from what we were hoping to understand as we didn't get through any of the things we planned on getting through. Silverstone was really, really good. I feel that the Silverstone test was probably the most progress I’ve made on that bike since I threw a leg over it.
"Bit of a funny one in terms of where I finished - think I was ninth overall in the combined times but again, if you look at what people were doing - the real situation - of course you don’t know what people are were working on, but I do know for us I was just going out and doing long runs and I was genuinely not interested in doing a fast lap, that was the same scenario at Snetterton. We had a plan, we stuck to it and hopefully that comes good for the races."
Crash.net: Two tests left with Oulton Park next. Is it a case of following a similar plan for those or perhaps working on setting fast times before the season begins. And is there anything specifically you’re hoping to test on the bike that you haven’t yet?
Christian Iddon: "The difficult situation that we’ve got is the length of the sessions at those two tests is really short. We get fortunate when we do tests over in Spain or foreign testing as you tend to get an open pit lane scenario which is really different to having for example, like at Snet where we had only half an hour sessions three times a day which is about race distance.
"So if you want to do a race run that’s one session gone, or if you want to make a change at Snetterton during the session you’re down to two lots of three lap sprints really. That’s hard to really analyse something in three laps and we have a similar scenario at Oulton and Donington, although they’re slightly shorter tracks so you will get a few more laps out of it. But still, it’s difficult to understand things in such a short amount of time but that’s the nature of the beast and is the same for everyone, so it is what it is.
"We don’t have any new parts this year, but we do have parts in the truck that are new to me. We were very reserved on what we used last year. We stuck to a base and didn’t deviate very far from that all. So yeah, no new parts from Ducati or anywhere, however, there are new things to me. We started off trying some stuff at Silverstone and I think we found a benefit, but it’s very rare to have something with benefit without some detriment.
"I do think that the benefit outweighed any detriment that it gave, but then you’ve got to understand that on different circuits and then make those parts work for you and your style. There’s always work to do and it never stops but I think we’ve got more than a bit of fine tuning to do.
"We still have a lot of laps to do to fully understand what’s going on, but I do feel what we did at Silverstone was good and I feel comfortable on the bike and that there was a step forward. Given what happened last year, it’s not like we’re looking for a big jump and a small step is all it will take."
Crash.net: As you mentioned you weren’t far off last season taking the title fight down to the last race of the year, and with ‘not new parts’ as such, but parts new to you and given team-mate Brookes was champion on the same bike, do you feel like you have everything you need to win the championship?
Christian Iddon: "Yeah I do! But I thought that last year too. The parts I mentioned were available to me last year, it's just that we didn’t use them so it’s not like they were holding them back or anything. I feel ready for the challenge! I know what I’m getting myself into but I know the bike much better. Again, it was the same for everyone but the way the championship was last year made it more difficult for a rider on a new team because the weekends were much busier with three races.
"I prefer three races, but in terms of trying to set something up it makes it more difficult because you lose a practice in play for a race, which is why we stuck so diligently to a setup and didn’t deviate from it too far. I feel like I understand how to ride the bike better and that’s not something where you go ‘I understand how to ride the bike better’, it’s just that you find it easier to get the most out of a package which just comes with experience and time.
"Over time you’re always going to eke out those extra little bits and every bike has its own little quirks that you change your lines, your style ever so slightly for. You might not even notice it at first, but over time the lap times become easier to do and that’s what I’m sort of finding at the moment.
"There’s no reason why I can’t win the championship, but there’s no reason why 20 other riders can’t win the championship. I think I’ve got the best horse in the race, so I’ve just got to be the best jockey. It’s that simple really."
Crash.net: With how close this championship is and the times at Silverstone demonstrating that. You said you’ve done a lot of long runs in comparison to what others are maybe doing or the test plans they’ve been on. But is there anyone in terms of riders with a new team or from last season that you think are going to be especially strong?
Chistian Iddon: "I think obviously Josh [Brookes] is the British champion. He is not the standout, but he has a way of always being there in a race even if he struggles through (the weekend), he will surprise you and show you a wheel which is very frustrating.
"But that’s what he’s good at. I think Jason [O’Halloran] again, I think the two Yamaha’s are going to be very good. I think Jason is very good and Tarran [Mackenzie] is a class act. He just sometimes has had - whether it’s bad luck or more DNF’s than you would typically have to make a championship challenge with. In terms of someone else, I rate Kyle Ryde as someone who’s one of the best riders on the grid. So I think Kyle will be there."