An exclusive interview with British Supersport runner-up Kyle Ryde, who has stepped up to the World Supersport championship for 2016...
Are you disappointed with how your WSS career has started?

Kyle Ryde:
It's hard to say, some of it's my fault and some of it's not. If I hadn't crashed at PI I'd have got a couple of points and if I hadn't had a technical problem in Thailand I'd have got more points so a lot of it was out of my hands.

It's annoying because at PI I was strong because it's really typically my kind of track, it's flowing, very fast and there's only one hard breaking corner. On the first day, with a bit of slipstreaming, I ended up fifth which I actually found very surprising. Pacewise, if you'd put me down for the whole race distance, I might have been tenth. The fifth one was more of a freak lap but I still felt that tenth wasn't bad considering that they were my first couple of meetings.

When I went to Thailand it was a totally new track to me so that again made things a little difficult.
You're talking about times and places but I thought you'd broken your hand?

Kyle Ryde:
Er, yeah my left hand but it wasn't much of a problem because they'd injected it so I couldn't really feel the bone, I just sort of rode through it.

I think it's just in your head really, the problem is that when you've got an injury you can instinctively try too hard not to crash in case you make it worse. By Thailand I think it was OK but the timing sheets made it look a lot worse than it was because I was 19th but actually just 1.5 seconds off pole.

I think that If I'd turned up on a Kawasaki or MV in Thailand I'd have found it easier, not because the bikes are faster but because they've got data for those bikes from last year and this is the first time the Yamaha's been there. We were sort of starting from nothing. We were actually pretty chuffed by what we were able to achieve given that limitation. I felt OK with what we did in Thailand given what we had.

It's a distant fly away as well. When you're in Spain you can get straight home so that you can think things over but from Thailand you've got a long flight where you can't go over it in your head properly, you just want to get home so that you can think, watch the race and see what you did wrong. I suppose that would be less relevant to Thailand because my grip came off.
Your grip came off?

Kyle Ryde:
After 3 or 4 laps the handlebar grip came off. I actually put it between my legs and tried to continue riding that way but it wasn't really possible. Putting it there was just the first thing that came in to my head to do but that's how you think in a race. But it was hard riding without it.
Don't you think that you're taking too much responsibility for situations which are beyond you control?

Kyle Ryde:
If you start blaming other people, things really start going downhill from there. Grips coming off are really unusual and if it seems OK then people won't worry about it and my hand's not their fault either. Shit happens really.

No I'm not too bothered about it because I qualified in 19th and the grip came off when I was in 12th so I had shown some speed. I think without that, given my speed I was looking for about 9th or 10th.
So it sounds as if you're really looking for experience and learning rather than simple places at the moment?

Kyle Ryde:
Yeah definitely.
Did you find the WSS pace fast in comparison to BSS?

Kyle Ryde:
No, no, in all honesty I would say that how me and Luke [Stapleford] were riding last season I think that would be about right for the front 2 rows of WSS. I'm not saying it'd be easy but we could do it. The problem is that at WSS level the races are longer and that takes more strategy.

You can see that in the way Kenan rides, he basically rides a bit like Rossi. You don't see Rossi in the time sheets all weekend but come the race he's suddenly in there because he's been spending the time setting his bike up. I can see that approach in many of the top WSS riders and it's not all about putting in a quick hot lap. It's these kind of things which are a valuable lesson.

It's all about experience and at Thailand we had to do everything, set the bike up without data, learn the track and everything. With all that going on the pressure to get into the top 10 on Friday is high and means you can make a lot of mistakes. I found I was trying too hard and it was only Sunday where things started coming together before I had the problem with the grip, it's just something I've got to take on the chin.

Going to WSS is a really steep learning curve and at the moment I don't feel that I've really run any proper races because of the ones I've done one was a wildcard, one I ran around at the back and in the other one I had a technical problem so I still feel I need experience.
Is what Sam Lowes did your inspiration for this ride?

Kyle Ryde:
He's a great rider and also had some of the problems that I have but he had a contract for 2 years so that helped him.

The bike I'm riding is actually Sam's bike from then but the engine management is different. I think the horsepower's the same but we can't use the Magnetti Marelli system that he used so everything's a bit more BSS spec but it is essentially the same bike that Sam won on. It really isn't too different from the one I was riding last season, no traction control but just basically better tyres and stronger competition to ride against.
How about your crew?

Kyle Ryde:
They're all from Bologna in Italy and I've got the crew chief that Leonov was using when he was Sam Lowes' team mate so he knows Sam really well.

I've got 2 mechanics; Flavio and Fabio. One of the mechanics doesn't speak English but Robby the crew chief speaks excellent English so it's not a problem. It's basically the Italian side of the Yakhnich team when they were running Yamaha in WSS with Claudio Corsetti as the manager

That will be useful in the future because when we get to the tracks where Sam rode the R6 and that I know we'll have all his data and that'll make things far easier. When I get to Assen, I already know the track and with the existing data that should make things a lot better. When I got to Philip Island I did have some existing data but I was learning the track so rather than just looking at existing stuff I had to find my own settings to suit my style.

Looking at Sam's data just makes you feel amazed at how incredibly fast he was. Fortunately a lot of that was from their electronics though so you can't be too intimidated by that.
Did the WSBK paddock feel uncomfortable at first?

Kyle Ryde:
I think that if Johnny Rea wasn't my manager it would have been a lot more difficult. I don't really know anyone but Johnny looks after me a lot, he's really good at guiding me through the paddock and helping me meet people. But really the main people I talk to are him and Luke (Stapleford).

Also Kenan has been helping me a lot and I'm very grateful to him for that. He's been really encouraging and has been giving me some tips on track and how to manage the race weekend.

At the moment I'm just getting used to the international race scene and really enjoying it. One day I might get sick of it but at the moment I've never been to all these places and it's all new and exciting.

Johnny's been my manager from the end of last year and had a lot to do with getting this ride together. We got the ride because they contacted us but Johnny had a lot to do with getting the contract sorted. My racing effort has been a really family affair but when you ride in the world series you need someone with experience to guide you.
With the family aspect being so important did they come out to PI?

Kyle Ryde:
My dad came out with me to PI and Thailand and hopefully my mum will come to the European rounds as well. For these 2 rounds I've been with my dad for 4 straight weeks, he's a really great guy but maybe 4 weeks on the trot with your dad is a bit too much for any teenager so I'm looking forward to the European rounds!

Honestly with the friends and family aspect, sometimes at a BSS round you might have 40 or 50 people turning out to see you and that could make you feel nervous in case you didn't do very well but with fly away rounds that pressure is off and you can just concentrate on doing your best.
Both Cal and Sam have used a WSS as a springboard to greater things, are you consciously following in their footsteps?

Kyle Ryde:
Basically my inspiration is Sam. I've looked at what other people have done but it looks to me that it was him that had the clearest route to where I want to be, what he did was perfect.

He was initially in a family affair in BSS like I was, broke through into WSS, won it and ended up with the ride he wanted -even though he got a jump start at the weekend! What he did was exactly what I want to do.
I guess you've been doing a lot of thinking and considering, where do you think an improvement can come from?

Kyle Ryde:
When I talk to Johnny he says that it's all about staying calm and keeping my head down. I've only had two races and it certainly isn't time to worry yet.

It's really hard because in both BSSt and BSS I did really well when I didn't really think I was going to and just moved up to the next level naturally so in the past it's all been quite easy and natural without really worrying too much.

This is quite a step up but when you get an offer like this, you've got to take it. I do feel ready for it but there's a lot more planning, strategy and thinking to do with a ride like this. Luckily I've got the best people around me to help though.

I think the improvement really has to come in my head. My sort of riding is definitely just about having a happy head and finding the enjoyment of it. I'm pretty good about forgetting about things like Thailand so I just need to feel that joy and fun again. I'm thinking positive and looking forward to the tracks that I know.
Do you feel you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself by taking inspiration from such successful careers?

Kyle Ryde:
No definitely not.

When you look at what Sam did in his first year he got a couple of podiums so if I can aim for that then that would be perfect and I think I can do that.

The problem for me is that when he did it there were 5 fast riders with the others just trying to catch up but this year there are 9 brilliant riders so I'll have my work cut out. That's a good thing though because I'll learn from the best and when I do get there it'll be extra special.
How does your bike compare with the others?

Kyle Ryde:
Honestly, I think my bike's faster. The straight line speed is definitely as good if not better, I may have been losing a bit in the corners because I don't know the tracks but overall the bike is definitely competitive and ready to do well.

Over all we're ready now, my hand's fine and we're looking for the next race.
Thanks for that Kyle and we'll get you some glue sent over to secure the handlebar grips.

Kyle Ryde:
Cheers, that'll be useful.