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  TT Website Interviews - Jim Moodie

Jim Moodie Jim Moodie is on of the biggest TT stars around, and at thirty five years of age, has been there and seen it all. However a win in one of the Superbike events at the TT still eludes the gritty Glasweigan.
His cause wasn't helped in any way last year after he sensationaly split from Honda Britian in a well publicised bust up.

We managed to catch up with Jim for a chat about his TT career and his future plans.

Ok Jim. If I start off by asking you about last year. You won the British Supersport Championship after famously splitting with Honda. On the whole would you call it a good year?
I would call it a difficult year with a satisfying outcome. That's all I can really say about it.

It must have been satisfying to win another British Championship at this stage in your career?
Yeah it was but it was unfortunate I had to go through all the upset earlier on in the season and having to switch teams. I had been with the Castrol team for two years and Honda for three years. You spend all the pre season getting a bike ready and set up to your liking to win races on and I had to jump on a bike at Snetterton and was expected to go out and win.

A lot of people really underestimate what we actually went out and done last year. Strange bike, strange tyres, all that kind of stuff albeit that the bike V&M gave me was a mega bike. There is no doubt about it that the bike was capable of winning the championship, but it is still a tall order. After one day's testing to go out and beat people like Kirk who is world class anyway, and has been riding the same bike all year, is really difficult.

A lot has been said and written about your split with Honda, and I have heard many stories about what happened. Are you able to tell us your side of the story at this point?
No. I would like to because I'm listening to all sorts of controversial reports about the situation, but I can't comment at all until it's sorted, you know. I desperately want to tell my side of the story but I can't. I want to put the record straight, but I just can't at the moment.

Will you one day?
Yeah, definitely.

We have touched on the V&M team already, but I am interested to know what the machines are like to ride?
The machines use for the British Championship were used in the British World Championship round as well, and we were pole for every single round except the final one which mattered and I ended up third. They do a thing called ideal time, splitting your lap up into four parts. On my best lap I was blocked at Clearway's, but on the times by the time I got there I was up .3 seconds of a lap for pole.

In the race, I led for more laps than anyone else did in that race, and I feel that I was very unlucky not to win that race. For a privateer team, which is what V&M are, to be able to compete at that level was just unbelieveable. I went there hoping to qualify on the front two rows somewhere and hopefully finish in the top five. I cam away from there feeling that I had been robbed for pole and robbed for the race win.

The R71 is the most powerful bike I have ever ridden. I don't know if a 500cc Grand Prix Bike would have any more power than that bike. It was quite a difficult bike to ride at Kirkistown. It would be good to ride it at the North West or the Isle of Man though. I reckon I could probably lap Kirkistown faster if I had twenty-five horsepower less because you just couldn't use the power.

Was there never a possibility that you would stay with the team for this year?
Oh yeah, but after I had this accident, things changed. I played it down quite a bit, but my ankle has been more of a problem than many people think. Jack knew the true situation and I think by the middle of February I wasn't sure if I would be able to ride the bike properly and that's when they had to try and go and sort somebody else out.

I didn't want to do a half job after winning the championship and in the end of the day if I couldn't produce the goods, nobody would be interested that I have very little movement in my ankle. I remember saying to Duffus once years ago when he tried to come back from a serious injury to early. Three or four races into his return I was trying to explain that he had made a big mistake.

When you come back from injury, you get sympathy for one race, a little bit for the second race but by the third race, you are expected to go out and win the race. People that know you might know different, but 99% of the public and the race teams expect you to win.

So when do you think you will be back on a bike again?
Well I did ride a bike before I had this last operation. I rode at Oulton Park on Ian Campbell's bike the day before I went for the operation because I wanted to see how my leg was.

I rode most of the day without too much problem, but the problem was that the gear lever had to be set so low, that it kept grounding out. It would make it really difficult to race properly. The one satisfying thing was that I ended up going round pretty much quicker than everyone else that was there on my first time on the bike, and I was quite chuffed with that because I hadn't ridden for nearly six months. At lunchtime, I had to go and get another gear lever because I had broken it by grounding it out.

I had considered, that if it went OK at Oulton Park, to postpone the operation, but there was no way after riding there, that I was going to be ready to race properly. I'm not 100& sure when I'll be back on a bike, because I'm not sure if this operation has been successful. I don't think it has.

There have been lots of offers for rides at the TT, but I don't think I would have been able to ride there anyway, because it still feels very similar to before I had the operation.

Jim Moodie

If the TT had of gone ahead, and you had been there also, who would you have classed as your main rivals apart from David Jefferies?
Well the Honda riders, if they are given the bikes they are supposed to be getting, should be there. However, if they get bikes similar to what I was given last year, they won't be. Both McGuinness and Archibald are capable of winning big bike races if they are given good bikes.

Duffus would have been there on the right bike. People seem to forget that Duffus is still the third fastest rider ever round there. He had a bad year last year, and he probably suffered more than I did last year with these uncompetitive bikes.

Any outsiders?
Other than Jefferies, I can't see who else would be able to get in there. Maybe someone like Ian Lougher would be a possibility.

In 1999 you broke the lap record on the ageing RC45 Honda, proving that you have the ability to win on a Superbike at the TT. On a competitive bike, do you still think you can realise that dream at the TT?
Absolutely, that's why the situation got so out of control with Honda. I'm not there to go round and round, I'm there to win you know. If I didn't think I could win, I wouldn't go there. I don't go to just make up the numbers.

As a respected TT rider, I would like to know your views on the TT as an event?
It is difficult to comment because you have to be careful what you say (laughs). It could be better. They could definitely move with the times a bit more. They could probably do with a few younger people in there on the organisational side but other than that it's still pretty good you know.

Joey Dunlop was killed last year, as we all know. You have raced against him and been his teammate. I would like to know what your feelings are on his passing?
I would say it is definitely going to have a massive impact on the TT for sure. I was his teammate in 99 and 2000. We never said too much to each other. He never said much, but I don't either but we got on pretty good and never had any problems.

You are one of very few 'top' short circuit riders who contest the TT. What is it that makes you still want to come over to the Island to race?
I don't know… I have different goals all the time. When you first go there you want to win TT's, then when you win TT's you want to be the fastest rider ever round there. I haven't ridden a Superbike round there all that many times. I first rode a Kawasaki there in 96 then I rode the V-Twin in 97 and 98 and then the Honda's in 99 and 2000.

I was pleased to get the lap record in what I class as my second year riding superbikes, because in 97 and 98 they were two strokes you know. I have to try and get that lap record back and I have to try and win a Formula One or Senior Race.

Jim Moodie

What are your views on the events future?
It's definitely difficult. Seven or eight years ago I made a suggestion that they should build a short circuit there, which by now would be hosting World Championship meetings. Roads are on the way out; there is no question about it. I don't know if it will be another five or ten years, but it is definitely on the way out.

Just the fact that the TT doesn't get the same attention anymore particularly outside of Europe. If the had a short circuit there and tried to get World Superbike there and Grand Prix and stuff, everyone would still go. A short circuit would be good for the long-term future and I have thought this for ten years. Roads won't go on forever, and they need to start looking at an alternative.

I don't think that will happen?
Yeah but that's what it needs. (laughs) But I agree with you it won't happen.

You have ridden at the TT for many years, mostly at the top end of things. Who is the best rider you have come up against during this time?
(long pause) There are better riders for different classes. I suppose Philip, who was there in all the classes, would be the one for me. Steve Hislop was quick obviously, but I never really raced against him. I would have loved to have raced against Stevie on the same bikes.

Talking of Steve Hislop, you and all the other Scottish riders of the same era seem to be very close is that the case?
Yeah, me, Simmo, Duffus, Stevie, Nial McKenzie, John Crawford, Ian McPherson are all pretty friendly.

I interviewed Ian Simpson once and he said you were his most feared rival. Every time he turned round, he said that he saw your purple helmet behind him?
(laughs) Ian and me did a season on private Superbikes in the Superbike World Championship one year. It was really tough, but we qualified at every race, but I don't think either of us scored any points. We were racing with Lavillai and these guys. It was a really tough, shit year, but looking back on it now, and you take the racing out of it, and it was probably my best year ever.

We were not really that well known and we could do exactly what we wanted and didn't have to answer to anyone. At the time, I don't think we realised how much fun we were actually having.

Who was that for - Francis Neill?
Yeah, he bought us these Kawasaki's and we run them. We had this joke going about going from Mondello to Mugello all the time.

You raced at Skerries once didn't you?
Yeah in about 89 I think. I had the lap record there for a bit.

What did you make of it?
It was all right. I did a few of those Irish Road Races. I went there in 89 and quite enjoyed it. Andy McGladdery and myself were over to race at Mondello and we thought we would go to Skerries to see what it was like. We got late entries and I qualified pole for the Superbike race on my CBR 600. Everyone was like; who the hell is he (laughs).

We went to the Yacht Bar and all these places. It was a good spot. I went to Mondello the following day and broke my collarbone (laughs).

Jim Moodie

Back to the plot - Which TT race you have ridden in has been the most satisfying?
Probably the first one I won. It wasn't that hard a race though. Maybe winning the 98 Production TT. I had been dropped by Suzuki the year before and I hadn't raced at before the North West, where I crashed and broke my wrist. I then had to go to the TT two weeks later.

I wasn't paid to ride for Honda, I was paid not to spoil Honda's 90th year party. It was plainly obvious to see that Ian Simpson and Michael Rutter were the two Honda riders. I was riding for Mick Grant and Russell Savoy. We just did our own thing, and kept away from all the Honda razzmatazz.

That should have been a really good year for me. It was in a way because I won that race which was Honda's 100th win and I was the first rider to lap at over 120mph on a Production bike.

Due to the weather things didn't go my way and it didn't turn out how it might of. I was leading the 600 race and the weather turned bad and I lost out there, and then I was third quickest in practice for the Lightweight after three laps of ractice. As we all know the race was a washout and was really dangerous, so it didn't go right there either. The whole time I was there that year i was basically riding with a broken wrist. If I had fallen at Governers or anywhere, that would have been me.

Of all the bikes you have ridden at the TT, which one would have been the best?
I have never ridden the perfect bike anyway. I really wanted a factory Honda RC45, because after the 1999 meeting, I went to Bol Dor and did the 24-hour race for Honda France on a factory RC45. This bike had 35bhp more than the one I rode at he TT. It was so much easier to ride than the bike I rode. I still think if one of those bikes went back to the Isle of Man it would blitz everybody. It was effortless to ride, it really was.

You are thirty-five now, and have achieved most of your goals at the TT, but how long do you think we will see you riding for at the TT?
How long?

You have to have the whole package for the TT and be at the high level. You really need the package and that is the difficult thing. When I go to Isle of Man I want to be sure that I have the bike that can win the race. As much as I want to do the TT, I have to look at the short circuit scene first because that pays my wages. So it all depends on that.

And how long do you think you will carry on racing?
Well I train with other riders and I know how fit they are. As long as I can stay fit and get good rides, I'll carry on. If I can't get good rides, I'll pull the plug on the whole thing.

What would you do then?
I don't know. I have been thinking about a bit of car racing. I'm too competitive to run a team. I'm more competitive than I have ever been. As soon as I'm ready to ride again, I'll be going for it and I've been training four hours a day, you know.

Well that's all the questions Jim. It has been great speaking to you, and I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that we all look forward to seeing you back on a bike as soon as possible.
Thanks Paul

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