Gregorio Lavilla is coming back to BSB in 2007 for a third successive season with Airwaves Ducati. The 2005 BSB champion spoke to MCN about why his deal took so long to finalise and how he aims to maintain his motivation next year.
MCN: Now it’s finally official that you are staying in BSB with Airwaves Ducati can you reveal what the hold up was in you agreeing terms?
Lavilla: There was no problem. Everyone knows I have an ambition to race in the world Championship so I was exploring all the possibilities with Ducati. Now Ducati have finalised their plans and I am staying in BSB for another year.
MCN: Are you happy about that?
Lavilla: I am. I don’t mind racing in BSB at all. Last year I felt really good and everyone was behind me. This year though, maybe because I have a British team-mate, I felt that some people thought a win for Gregorio Lavilla was normal and when I wasn’t winning they said I had a problem in my head. That surprised me a little. But I think this is normal when you have a foreign rider in a domestic championship. I understand this.
MCN: Do you feel like you have unfinished business in WSB?
Lavilla: The only way I’d go back is with a top factory ride [like Ducati]. I had two factory rides before but never with competitive bikes. I was 23 in1998 when I put a privateer DeCecco Ducati on the front row at Donington and scored two podiums in the year. If a young rider did that now he’d get a good factory ride and his career would be mapped out. It was different then. At the end of ’98 though Ducati wanted to keep me but there was a change in team management.
MCN: But you’ve ridden works Kawasakis and Suzukis subsequently?
Lavilla: I rode a Kawasaki 750 at a time when the 1000 twins were really strong. I got a couple of podium finishes but the gap between the bikes was too big by then. I rode an Alstare GSX-R1000 with air restrictors and just when we were getting it sorted, Suzuki withdrew from the series when the control tyre rule was introduced. Last year the Airwaves Ducati was the best bike I’ve ever ridden. The bike is still good but it’s very hard now for the twins against the fours
MCN: You’ve admitted to wanting to get back to WSB. How can you stay motivated to race in BSB?
Lavilla: It’s no problem for me. I’ve won the title once. I was leading it till the final race this year. I’ll keep my motivation by trying to win it again. And I’ll be aiming to win more races in a season than I’ve won before. I’ve never won at Knockhill so that’s an important goal too. I need to improve my wet weather skills [he says tongue in cheek after his awesome ride at Brand in March when he finished second on slicks in the wet!]. Motivation is no problem.
MCN: Aren’t you concerned that the 2006 bike that you’ll be riding next year might come up short against the latest four-cylinder Japanese bikes?
Lavilla: Maybe, but we’ll just have to make sure our bike is 100% every weekend and make sure we don’t have any technical problems like we did this year. If you ask why we had problems in 2006 I cannot answer. It was maybe just bad luck, especially as everything was so perfect in 2005. But if you look at it, we had perfect testing, perfect two thirds of the season. It was only small problems in the final third of the season.
MCN: And it didn’t help when Karl Harris took your brake lever off going out of Surtees in the penultimate race at Brands. I guess that was pretty depressing?
Lavilla: Yes, I worked hard so you can imagine how I felt. It’s clear that some riders feel the need to win races in the first few laps but then slow down. It’s always a long race.
MCN: How about having to race on the BSB ‘goat tracks’ again?
Lavilla: Hmmm, I’m fine about it now but if I do go back to WSB and their big wide tracks I’m going to be lost [laughing].
MCN: Who do you see as your big rivals in 2007?
Lavilla: It’s too early to say but Kiyo is good. He’s a young lad and still won the title despite all the pressure from Honda. He won it and deserved it. There’s people around who think they are big stars but have won nothing. Kiyo’s a good guy, always polite.
MCN: How about Chris Walker on the Rizla Suzuki?
Lavilla: I think it will just make the championship even more exciting with him around. For sure he’ll be a lot stronger in 2007 on the Suzuki than when he was in WSB (on the Kawasaki). He’ll be one more rider to beat.
Quality bikes for sale: Click here.
Bike reviews: Click here.
Product reviews: Click here.