MCN caught up with three-time British Touring Car champion and bike-lover, Gordon Shedden, at the British MotoGP round at Silverstone 2018 to discuss fast Ducatis, trials riding and trackdays.
What draws you to the MotoGP paddock?
"There's just such a buzz about the paddock, isn't there? There’s only three races on a Sunday, but all three are absolutely epic and they’re the cream of the crop. It’s just spectacular. It’s a vibrant paddock and it’s all action."
You're also a keen trackday rider. Have you always been into bikes, or is this a recent passion?
"I love it and I probably love my bikes more than my cars, but I’ve got to do it in small doses because it’s quite difficult to explain to the folks in my day job that I can’t make the following round because I’m sat at home with a broken bone after falling off a motorcycle!
"It's great though and since moving to Audi this year, I’ve got myself a Ducati Panigale V4S. It’s always going to be much better than I will ever be, but I’m hanging onto it and I"m having a lot of fun.
"It's just a weapon and it feels like it’s trying to take your shoulders out of your arms. It’s so fast. I couldn’t believe how slick the gearbox is, either. For me, it almost feels like a seamless shift and it’s just incredible. It’s got so much power that you don’t know what to do with it."
So how does it compare to your World Touring Car for performance?
"Obviously it’s faster in a straight line, but a touring car is incredible on the brakes. The stopping power those things have is just insane. In the corners – especially the medium sharpness bends – the car is also able to carry so much corner speed.
"Even round here at Silverstone, I remember years ago in my previous job with Honda, we were always doing car versus bike events and the bikers would always struggle to get into their heads how late you could brake in the cars going into each corner.
"We have got about 370bhp to 380bhp in our car and it weighs around 1200 kilos. We could probably have another 100bhp at the click of a laptop, but the rules dictate that level of power and so on."
What do your team bosses make to the motorcycling hobby?
"They seem to be pretty cool with the whole bike thing and all they’ve ever said is be careful and don’t do anything stupid if you’re going out to race the next weekend.
"It’s nice now, as I'm on a bit of a summer break and we don’t start racing again until October (2018), as our next round is in China, so I’ve got this golden period where I can get out on the bike and give myself a nice four-week window to recover.
"I know it only takes about four hours for a bike racer to recover, but us softy car racers need about four weeks to get better!"
What’s the connection with Leopard Racing?
"Leopard are my title sponsor in World Touring Cars as well, hence why I’m here with the team. I’d love to be here all weekend with them, but I’ve actually got to fly back to Scotland as we’ve got Touring Cars at Knockhill and, whilst I’m not racing, I am the Circuit Manager, so I need to be there doing my other full-time job!"
Are you only riding on circuit then, or do you ride on the road, too?
"Yeah, I’ve got a road licence, too! I’ve got a Ducati Monster 1200 for the road at the minute, but I’ve also got a Montesa 350 trials bike, which I use for training – more in the winter months.
"It’s really nice to get that bit of fitness and have a bit of fun with it, as well as working on my hand-eye-coordination and also scratching that biking itch for some fun when the weather's crap!"
Does the trials riding help prepare you for car racing?
"Yeah, definitely – in terms of balance and core strength. Again – it’s all about getting the feet, hands and head working in unison. In the winter, I think it’s really good and then on track, it’s probably one of the few things I can do that takes my full focus.
"You’ve got to be so far ahead of the game on the bike that, when you jump back into the car, it’s almost like everything slows down a bit, meaning you can free up a bit of brain space, which you can then use to your advantage in a race."
So, with a sponsor like Leopard, are you gunning for a go on a Grand Prix bike?
"Oh yeah! To have a go on a Grand Prix bike would be great! The team always say to me 'look at the Moto3 bike' but it would look like I was giving birth to the thing – it’s so small. It would be great to have a go on a proper GP bike, though – I imagine that would be epic.
"I did actually have a run on John McGuinness’ TT bike a few years ago. We did a kind of car-bike-swap and that reignited the passion to ride a bit more - although he threatened me with death if I fell off it!
"He’s obviously got a lot of special memories with that bike and he said 'whatever you do, now isn’t the day to be a hero.'
And finally, Donington or Silverstone?
"Although I never saw MotoGP at Silverstone, I have seen World Superbikes there and Donington is a great circuit, with plenty of undulation. However, it almost feels a bit constrained now for the big bikes, as they are so fast.
"You want to see riders on the limit and you want to see big fast corners and riders at work. Silverstone gives you that in abundance, doesn’t it? It’s got some epic corners – and some real fast bits and some tight, twisty bits – so you can see everybody fully opening their bikes up."
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