Thursday, 2nd April: what should have been 2020 Bennetts BSB first official UK test.
Instead of being able to watch Christian Iddon on his new Ducati V4R, we grabbed the championship challenger for his thoughts ahead of the new season.
Looking ahead to the 2020 season, whenever it might start, this year has to be your best shot yet at both race wins and the championship, hasn’t it?
Yeah, without a doubt, the team went 1, 2 in the championship and the bike went 1, 2, 3. I keep telling people that motorsport is not a level playing field, but for the first time in my career I have without question got the advantage so yeah, I tend not to talk myself up but I do believe in myself and I now have the package to do it.
Do you feel as though you’ve earned your position there?
The thing about me getting this seat is that I’m not the person to be replacing Scott Redding and I completely understand that, which is why this is all even better, because only someone in Paul Bird’s position could have made this happen and I really appreciate the fact that he’s given me this opportunity. That’s not to say that I don’t think I deserve it because I do.
Does that feel like a bit of pressure off your shoulders then?
I put enough pressure on myself all the time so I know that in a way people will be saying I’ve got big boots to fill but I’d rather just fill my own boots. I’m not the rider that went out, I’m a completely different person. I’m jumping on a bike that is well set up so I don’t really want to reinvent the wheels.
With regards to Josh, I’ve always got on with him pretty well, I do respect the way that he rides and I like his mentality – I know he’s got some stick in the past but I like the way he goes about his business. It’s just a case of, the last few years have been frustrating and I’ve stayed with the same team for four years and every year there was a reason for doing that. The reason I stayed for the final season was because I couldn’t bring myself to not try the new bike. It wasn’t the golden ticket that I expected and unfortunately it didn’t power the team to greater things. It was absolutely time for a change and the change couldn’t have been any better.
You’ve had a taste of the Ducati already, in terms of your riding style or first impressions of the bike, how big a contrast is that to the S1000RR?
Huge, huge, contrast. What’s amazing about it is that it puts the power down without feeling like it’s putting the power down so it actually makes it just a nice ride. Funnily enough, the sound of it was difficult for me to get used to. It’s a different pitch, so I was glad to get out before Christmas to get used to that and start to understand it. I’ve been riding a road bike for a bit of practice and now it’s become the norm. It’s funny how you use all your senses when you ride, you use the vibration through the backside, you use everything and it was the sound that got me and I was sort of struggling a bit to understand a bit where I was at with the bike.
It also turns completely different to the BMW, but I’m learning it and just putting in the laps, and not particularly trying to go very fast but just to play about a little bit and see what works. I’m absolutely not scared to take shortcuts and by shortcuts I mean, I’ll be looking through the data from what Scott and Josh did last year and if there’s something I need to do to change, then I’ll do everything within my power to replicate that.
That was a very successful combination, the most successful combination ever in BSB I would say. Not sure if that’s true in history, but it probably is. And in the era of racing that we’re in where it's so fricking close, that was some achievement. I’ve raced against the V4R, I’ve been on track with the bike a lot and last year I talked to the team and they’d be like, “where are they pulling away?” and I’d be like, “everywhere!”
It didn’t seem to do one thing exceptionally better, there was never a piece of track where you’d go, that’s exactly where they are making the time, it just seemed that Josh or Scott would just chip away, not on the brakes, not on the corner, not on the straight, just a little bit everywhere and that’s all the more frustrating. There’re even more developments with this bike to come than there were last year, so I’m in a good place. The pressure thing, yeah, you get more pressure from the outside but I don’t ever think that will overcome the pressure that I put on myself anyway, so I think as long as I can keep myself, try and keep myself, and keep my eyes on the task ahead.
The BMW appeared to be quite a physical bike to ride, so is the Ducati more manageable?
Funnily enough whenever I raced with any of the Ducati’s last year, or all three of them, you could match them sometimes; sometimes I could match them for speed but you knew that they weren’t just matching for speed but that they were managing the race as well. So I was basically hanging on, I could tell that they were going as fast as they could but making a plan, weighing up the situation, whereas I didn’t have the capacity to also do that because I was too busy trying to go as fast as I could.
Who do you think will be in the showdown this year?
I think the Showdown contenders will be pretty similar to what we had last year, in all honesty. Every now and again people jump in, but after round two, everyone sort of falls back in line, but I think Josh, Tommy and Tarran will have a very strong season. Danny Buchan is always strong, but you can keep going down the list of the riders making an argument for all of them.
More importantly who do you think will be in your Grandad’s top six?!
Who will Grandad like? I don’t know, Grandad always seems to like Glenn Irwin. Glenn’s on a Honda this year. He’s got a choice of Irwins now. Everyone always loves ‘Ask Grandad’ so… I might even do a send in your questions to Grandad.
Over to you Grandad Iddon!
Take a closer look at the brand-new factory-backed VisionTrack Ducati V4 Rs Iddon and Brookes will ride this season…