In his first monthly column, newly signed Foggy Petronas rider Steve Martin tells us all how his Oz lifestyle has changed now that he has joned his first ever factory backed racing team for 2005...

Hi to all users and welcome to my new monthly column. I hope I can provide you with an informative insight into life in the World Superbike paddock and behind the scenes at Foggy Petronas Racing.

Since the last race at Magny-Cours it's been a busy couple of months - more with thought processes and decisions to make about a number of things, rather than actual things to do!

My mind has been ticking over non-stop as to what to do for next season. I had a few options, each with pluses and minuses, and in the end, I was having trouble sleeping at night!

But I knew FPR was the best opportunity and so I took the decision to put my heart and soul into this project. I'm not the type of guy to have a manager so Sandra and I made the decision together, taking into account what was best for me as a rider and also best for us as a couple.

This is the first time I've ever been a part of a factory-supported team. Everything is so organised and professional, with tremendous technical and racing experience and knowledge in the team. I'm also really looking forward to being instrumental in the next stage of development of the FP1.

For me, looking from the outside until now, this project has been a huge achievement. It's also good for me that if the team decides, or if I ask for something to be changed on the bike, then we can actually change it, compared to other teams I've ridden for where their only option really is to bolt on a part rather than customising the bike around me. This last season I had five podiums and three Superpoles, so I'm hungry to keep up this type of pace which I think we can with the further developments I know we have coming.

I'm also looking forward to having Garry as a team mate - with two Aussies in the team we're both going to want to beat each other so that'll be good for healthy competition both for us and the team. I don't know Garry very well but what I have seen of him he's a great guy - one minute you can be smashing fairings together on the track but when we get off we have a respect for each other's riding ability and can talk about things sensibly - which is not always the case with every rider! But of course, I'd prefer for him to finish behind me!

After the season we spent a week on holiday in Portugal, where I proved useless at both beach soccer and tasting different types of port. Then, after eventually signing up for FPR, we were straight into the action on the FP1.

You very often have to go round in circles to find where you want a new bike's set-up to be but on the third day I really started to feel we were making some headway. I felt very comfortable on the bike and was happy with my times, considering the very different characteristics between the twin cylinder I've been used to riding for four year and the triple cylinder FP1.

After riding flat out for three days without stopping for lunch I decided to stop an hour before the end of the day. We had been through so many things that I'd come to a point where I felt comfortable, so thought it better to leave it there and on a high point.

Then it was back home to Australia for an extended Christmas break. I'm in to old trials bikes. The problem is, I buy and restore all these old bikes and dream about riding them, but they're then either too good to ride once done up, or they break down!

So I ended up buying a Beta and have been out with a couple of grade 'A' trials riders, Trevor Campbell and Dean Nuttall, who compete over in Europe occasionally.

Let's put it this way. I'm not going to be giving Dougie Lampkin a run for his money yet! I watch the other guys try an obstacle and think 'That looks easy!' And then I end up eating dirt! I have also been given a KTM and have been down the local Frankston Motorcycle Park near Melbourne. I had to use my head as I was getting tired and that's when you have to be careful, especially when going flat out down the straight.

It's great to be back here to see all our family and friends - not to mention our stubborn Alaskan Malamute dog, Misha. Christmas and New Year with our families will be great, and I hope that all the readers have a great festive season.