Gearlink becomes official Kawasaki team in British Supersport
This week the Gearlink Kawasaki team announced their two rider British Supersport line-up of Chris Martin and Steve Neate, as well as stepping up to become the official Kawasaki team in the class. MCN spoke to Michael de Bidaph about this latest step up the ladder for his team …
MCN: Why Martin and Neate?
de Bidaph: We were approached by ten riders this winter for a 2008 which was encouraging for me, especially as no one at that knew that we were going to be the official Kawasaki team. Chris struck me as a rider with a good CV. He tested our bike at Mallory at the end of the year and was very impressive considering he’d never ridden a 600 before. I’d been watching Steven for a while and talked to him at the end of the year. He was also impressive in testing our bike.
MCN: Michael, Gearlink Racing has come a long way in a short time. Tell us about the development?
de Bidaph: We started in 2005 in the Supersport Cup competition. It was a low-budget operation running out of a trannie van with myself and my wife. We ran James Hillier and finishing fourth in the Cup. We had a good year thanks to a lot of help from the MSS Discovery team.
MCN: How did the team expand from there?
de Bidaph: We ran James again in 2006 but with two extra team staff and worked out of a 30 foot motorhome. James had some good results, including a sixth in the wet at Donington. Last year we signed Guy Sanders alongside James and had a 33-foot motorhome and a lorry with an awning. It was a lot more professional. Guy got to grips with the bike and was fourth at Oulton. He was a star in the making but we lost him at Mondello.
MCN: How do you cope with something like that?
de Bidaph: We struggled with everything after that but you have to come to terms with it. We decided to continue racing and used wild card riders for the rest of the year. It was a tragic season but we also took positives from the year and knew we had to move forward this year.
MCN: And now Gearlink Racing has become Gearlink Kawasaki - the official team representing the marque in BSS. What are your thoughts on the coming season?
de Bidaph: I’m really pleased with our line-up. Steve’s a good rider but needs a consistent team to work with him. I think we can get the best out of him. Chris will just get on a ride. He’ll get the best out of the bike. They’re both very different characters and riders but both very committed. We’re used to running Pirellis and they suit our bike. We’ve got the power now with the latest-spec MSS engines. We’re not kidding ourselves it’s going to be easy but we know the bike will be competitive in its second season and we’ll work together well as a team.