Jack Valentine interview
How does it feel to be back in the British Superbike paddock?
It feels just like yesterday really, nothing's changed. The professionalism in the paddock is excellent, as is the quality of riders. The one thing that I really noticed - especially after being in the World Superbike Championship - is that the circuits are still of a very poor standard.
Have you been keeping busy since the end of the 2006 season?
No, not really! I was waiting to see what happened with Carl's (Fogarty) team because they wanted to continue working with me and there was still the possibility of something happening until the early part of this year. One or two smaller opportunities cropped up after that, but I wasn't really keen. I only wanted to work as a manager with a professional team, so it's been pretty quiet.
You have already worked with Michael Rutter. Are you enjoying working together again?
Yes, there are absolutely no problems. I worked with him in 1997 and we got third in the British Superbike Championship overall and we had a third as a wildcard entry in the Brands Hatch round of World Superbikes. I worked with Michael again in 2000and we had a win at the North West 200.
Why did you decide to work with MSS Isilon Kawasaki?
When they approached me after the Mondello round of the series I had no hesitation in saying yes. I have known the team as a professional outfit for a long time, they are the official Kawasaki team and they have two talented riders. I had a look at all the facilities and set-up and they have everything that we need.
What is your official role with the team and what does it involve?
My official role is team manager, which involves the day to day running of the team, ensuring everything is organised and keeping riders and staff motivated.
Are you happy with the progress the team is making?
No, not at the moment. I have come into the team with an injured rider in Michael Rutter, which is restricting him so he's not performing to his maximum capability and that's not his fault. Also, Stuart on the 600 has had a few issues at the last couple of events, which have cost him. I'm confident that Stuart is ready to get a podium or maybe even a win and with Michael I'll be happy if he finishes both races in seventh place at Mallory Park. I'm looking forward to Croft then when both Michael and the bike will be 100 per cent.
Do you have any specific aims that you'd like to achieve with the team this season?
I want to be winning races with Stuart and getting regular podiums. With Michael, I would like to see him finishing in the top six or maybe top five at every event. I think he'll struggle to beat Kiyo and Jonathan Rea and maybe even the Airwaves duo, but there's no reason that he can't challenge everyone else.
Do you think that the British championship has improved in terms of the level of competition since you were last involved?
Not really because it was getting to the level that it's at now when I left in 2004. I'm pleased that the standard hasn't dropped back though and I actually believe that there's more depth in the series than in the World Superbike Championship.