Firstly I want to say a big thanks to Horst for taking the time to answer these questions for me I hope people enjoy reading these as I am looking to get more of these up during the season.
How do you feel your 2016 season went ?
I started in different classes:
World endurance with team Bolliger and that was our worst year ever. In Le Mans at the 24h race I was battling for p2 with FCC Honda after 16 hours of riding and all looked good then the gear box collapsed and damaged the engine case as well and the bad luck continued the whole year.
Road racing with my own team:
We got the zx-10r and at the start we had really big trouble to find a good setup for the electronics and the suspension. After the nw200 I thought I would put some petrol over the bikes and burn them down… suddenly all turned into good.
We compared different suspension setups – I got one from my friend Roman Stamm (German championship) and also one from k-tech – and we had a real good bike. At the end we used a rear shock setting from Robin Duyzers that worked really good for me and when we had a good basic balance my data recording man Mario Kuepper did a real good job with electronics and with the fine tuning of the suspension as well. So finally I had the best bike I ever rode and I did my fastest lap with +127mph – without running over my limits ;). at the next races in Terlicko we improved again and found a even better setting that will also work at the NW200, Because it`s a similar course layout. At Macau I went to good 5th place, after having a crash and some problems with my … balls 😉
Classic TT with EGLI racing and Greenall racing:
On the Egli Vincent 500 we went really strong after having a really bad start in 2015, I could manage to do a 103.6mph lap on that 45hp bike and that was really good for my riding skills around the mountain course. I had a fine 10th place at the race, but you have to remind that I raced together with 500 patons and other much faster bikes, Whilst our EGLI Vincent has a single cylinder push rod engine – so I was pretty pleased with my place. On the zxr750 from Greenall racing I went even better and at the end of practice I was 3rd fastest with a +123mph lap… that surprised me. In the race everything went wrong, the bike wasn`t handling like it did in practice, we had some small problems with the visor change at the pit stop and I slipped out of my right clove, so I had problems to give full throttle and I missed the brake lever at Ballaugh bridge… I nearly sh.. myself and man, that was a bad jump, I smashed the wind screen with my helmet. The last half lap I had a big bug on my visor and I couldn`t see anything on my right eye… later at the paddock i recognized that I still had a tear off on my visor! but my 6th place didn`t last very long as I got disqualified because of 0,5mm to big pistons.
Tri series in New Zealand with Red devil racing team:
That was a up and down and finally I was 2nd overall and also at the grand final race, the Robert Holden Memorial at the cemetery circuit, I missed out on the 1st place by a small margin
What races are you hoping to take part in this season ?
NW200, TT, Macau, Terlicko and the whole endurance World Championship.
What do you think of riders like Josh Brookes and other BSB guys coming in and now taking part in the International Road races ?
It is fantastic, especially Josh had a fantastic newcomer year at the TT and everybody thought that his best newcomer lap will last for long time… but then Hicky (Peter Hickman) turned up and lifted it to a new level! when he past me in the fast corners before Ballaugh he looked like he was on a Sunday morning ride… but he was fast, really fast! and now with Irwin(Glenn Irwin) he is the next very, very strong rider on the start grid… that is really good for the whole road racing scene, because a lot of people think riders are just doing the roads when they are not good enough for short circuits.
What in your opinion would make for a successful season for you personally?
The main race is for sure the TT, and I just want to go faster that`s the main thing in the moment… I don`t care if I come 10th or 12th, that`s not the same as if you fight for a podium. At Macau or NW200 it would be a dream to step on the podium and if everything comes together and with a bit of luck…. why not?
Do you have any pre race superstations or rituals that you follow ?
I have special underpants that always brought me some luck, I also wear the same ear-plugs for the whole race event after the last race i put them in the bin, Only on my last stint in Suzuka I forgot them and that was pain in my head! you cant imagine how long 50min can become with that noise level.
What is your favourite track to race on ?
For sure the TT course is best place on earth to race a motorbike and the most complicated. For short circuits it was always Imola… It is a pity that we do not race there anymore … Suzuka and Macau is also very special. and the Ulster gp, oh man that one scared me… think about the Lougher corner, ultrafast and blind – a real scary combination!
Who is your favourite all time rider?
When I was young I was a fan of Capirossi, but when I saw what he did to Harada… what a f***ing asshole I think when you become older your heroes change and now I read what Joey Dunlop did in his lifetime and that makes him to a inspiration, a real all time hero. Anthony Gobert is exactly the opposite, so much talent with the combination of lack of thinking … what a waste!
How did you get started in racing ?
I grew up in Zeltweg, where the Austrian ring was, now theres the short red bull ring instead. So after I spend some years in the pubs I did my first track days and then I started to prepare my bike for the track and never built it back for road use… I was 24 when I started with racing and when my mother came to watch me she was sitting on the grandstand at the start finish – never at a corner – and she took a newspaper in front of her face when i passed, My dad died when I was 13 and my brother when I was 15, so I was the only thing that was left for her and I wasn`t a easy teenager… working day and night and spend afterwards every cent at the pub – mostly driving drunken through the weekend nights. At the end of the day i can really say that motorcycle racing changed my whole life in a very positive way!
I will have another Q and A up on this site on the 31st January with David Johnson follow me on twitter (@weephil56) for regular updates as with the seasons tarting we will be posting alot in the coming months.