Gsxer400: How long did it take you to decide to make a comeback?
SimonCrafar: Er, I would say about a week. Thinking about it and talking to a couple of teams and my wife, and deciding that I was really was as fired up as I felt and it really wasn't just a brief...mid-life crisis
Dpc: How does a 2002 R1 British superbike compare with the Yamaha GP bike you rode?
SimonCrafar: Obviously, on paper it's a fair bit heavier and it accelerates a fair bit less. It's easier to ride with extra weight and a bigger, wider, smoother power band, and is more forgiving. One is a modified street bike and the other is purpose built from the ground upwards, no expense spared. And one gets given to you reasonably close to the mark set-up wise, like the 500, and in this case we're given a streetbike and we've got to make it into a race bike. I'm grateful to Yamaha and the work they've done over the last twelve months because the step from road bike to race bike is a lot better. The street bike is a lot closer this year.
Sweetandsour: What's the toughest race you've had, and what was it like to win at Donington?
SimonCrafar: The toughest race is always the one you don't go well at. It's the ones where you try your heart out and it doesn't go well, but the closest and most fun was Phillip island in 98 where I battled with 4 or 5 guys and came second. I was really happy.
Donington? To be honest, it was surreal. It was really, really good and took a while to sink in. And it was almost an anti-climax, because I worked for it for so long and then I'd finally done it and it was like, "what next". I was out of the circuit by 6pm going to Japan for testing for the 8 hour race. But it was a good feeling getting the bonus into my bank account! That was when I was yelling woohoo in the shower, an hour after the race....
Dant: Posted for Phillip: Do you think you can challenge for the title and who do you see as your main rivals?
SimonCrafar: Challenge for the title…definitely, that's why I'm here. It's going to be a race against time to get a new bike up to race winning spec and we'll have 3 and a half days of testing until the race which isn't enough. But the thing is we have to go as well as possible until we get to race winning level. Main rivals: The same guys from last year that were competitive. Especially the ones on bikes that haven't changed as they've got all the settings etc from last year and know how the bikes go. But having said that I've never been at Silverstone before, and I've just had a 45 minute session and went out on a new bike and was a second-second and a half slower, whilst I'm floundering around on a track I didn't know. So we're not going to be miles away from the start.
Gsxer400: Are you going to be able to resist fiddling with the suspension if it isn't quite right?
SimonCrafar: No The team won't mind...the main thing is I don't concentrate on just that. If there is a problem and we know what it is, then I can do that. I've already had other teams popping in asking for advice!
Kiwibro: Do you see this ultimately as a stepping stone back into WSB?
SimonCrafar: I mean, anything is possible I'm really happy right now, and not doing that amount of travelling, and being able to take my wife and boy with me. My real priority is to really enjoy the riding
Chunder: Red Bull now on Dunlops in 2002. What a pisser eh?
SimonCrafar: I couldn't put it better mate...perfect!
Tippy and Gary: All the best from Yamaha Motor New Zealand…we're fizzing at the bung you are back on the tuning forks again...good luck and give it heaps!
SimonCrafar: *laughs*...hi Gary... we'll be in touch soon mate and I'll do that
Dpc: How are Kiwi's and Brits alike, and what makes them different?
SimonCrafar: I think of NZ always as little England. I spend a lot of time in Australia, which is more to me like America. I think Kiwis and English are a lot more reserved and it's thought uncool to be real extrovert and loud and confident. In my thoughts we have got a lot in common and it's easier to relate to the English. We're into cups of tea and we have lots of rain.
Happy: Do you get annoyed when people mistake you for an Australian?
SimonCrafar: No, not really... The same reason...I've mistaken Canadians for Americans, cos to me they sound similar. No offence taken at all.
Marc: Is Jonah Lomu still really mad at you?
SimonCrafar: I'm sorry mate, I've got no idea...I've never met Jonah Lomu...I didn't know he was mad at me.... It's a bit worrying if he is, he's a bit big and I won't be able to run faster either!
Roadtester: Hi Si. I’m racing a gixer 6 this season in a local club. Any tips on making it to the top quickly? Oh, and do u want a pint?
SimonCrafar: Opening the gas earlier doesn't make you go faster. It's safer to use the brakes to the max in a straight line, and the engine to the max in a straight line and then build on it. That was probably the big mistake I made when changing from a really small bike to a superbike. And yes I'd love the pint!!!!
Happy: Which UK tracks do you think you know best and are likely to go best at?
SimonCrafar: By far Donington. I've been there more times than anywhere else, with superbikes, GPs and BSB in 92. Secondly Brands...I've been there between 4 and half a dozen times, a few years ago now though. The rest I don't know well at all, and there's a couple I don't know...
Chunder: Are the R7's available if the R1 doesn't work out or is that just not gonna happen?
SimonCrafar: We've got them sitting in the workshop. The team has prepared them ready for use. But the R1, Yamaha have given us an even better bike than we expected out of the box. So I think we're really close to where the R7 would be, and there will be more to be gained by working on the R1 and making it better, rather than stagnating on the R7
Atom: Have u made friends with any of the BSB boys yet?
SimonCrafar: I'd say the new guys I never knew before...like Paul Jones, good lad. I'd never met him before. I knew a lot of the guys through BSB and WSB before, old guys like me, so John and Steve, and Matt Llewellyn used to be around and Dave Jeffiress. I had a beer with all of them before back in 92.
Mikered2: I’ve got Michael Rutter on my fantasy race team on a Ducati, give me one good reason to sell him and buy you?
SimonCrafar: Er.... Experience and I believe ultimately, ability.
Happy: The best brolly babes in the world can be found in?
SimonCrafar: Good question. I married mine... So I'll be in trouble if I say anywhere other than New Zealand but Spain takes some beating.
Happy: If you could have one Ducati characteristic included in the R1, what would it be?
SimonCrafar: Ability to hook up and accelerate up out of slow turns.
Marc: Do you need my mobile number, in case I need to collect trophies from the engravers for you, like the time I rode my YZF to Derby flat out for you to pick up a trophy you were to present?
SimonCrafar: Yeah, I remember that, thank you Marc. I'll be getting it from the guys at MCN and I'll be in touch.
Happy: What's the money like in BSB compared to GPs?
SimonCrafar: Depends whereabouts in GPs you are talking about. if you're comparing what I was on, with what I'm on now it's ....um.....sad! But like I said I'm hoping to enjoy this more.
Chunder: What's the deal with Yamaha then. Are there doors open to GP's if you go well this year, especially now that GP is 4 stroke?
SimonCrafar: I've always had a good relationship with Yamaha and they've often invited me to test for things like the 8-hour, but anything is possible. All you can do is ride your best and wait for the call. If that's what you want.
Happy: Which circuit fills you with most dread?
SimonCrafar: Any really dangerous ones. The most famous one for that is probably Mallory Park, but I don't particularly dislike it.
Zx6man: Do you ride a road bike?
SimonCrafar: To be honest, no. I don't I ride a dirt bike
Kiwibro: Yeah, good to have you back mate! (I was the drunk kiwi that shook your hand after your GP win!)
SimonCrafar: *laughs* I hope there's excuses for doing that again this year. I hope there's plenty of excuses
SimonCrafar: Thanks a lot to everyone for coming. But I need to go and get changed and get back to media day, but it's been fun and I'd love to do this again...