Troy Corser: World SBK MMP Interview
Good morning, everyone. This is John Gardner, the Media Manager at Miller Motorsports Park, and this is another of our ongoing series of interviews with riders in the Superbike World Championship. Today we’re very honored to have with us Troy Corser.
He is the 1994 AMA Superbike Champion, the 1996 and 2005 World Superbike Champion, and he is currently riding the No. 11 BMW S1000 RR for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team in the Superbike World Championship. He is currently seventh in the standings, having taken a pole at Misano and podium finishes at Misano and Monza. So welcome, Troy.
Troy Corser: Thanks, John.
Moderator: Unfortunately you didn’t get to participate in last weekend’s event at Brno because you had an accident in practice on Friday. First of all, how are you feeling?
Troy Corser: Not so bad considering I got hit by the bike in the accident in the chest area and I’ve just got a bit of severe bruising around the ribs and collarbones, but no broken bones or anything, so quite fortunate to walk away and be ready for the next round.
Moderator: We’re glad to hear you were not more badly injured than you were. It sounds like it could have been a lot worse.
Troy Corser: Yes, obviously when you have a highside you normally walk away with pretty sore elbows and maybe a broken collarbone or something like that or a wrist, unfortunately. But when you get tangled up in the bike it can be obviously a lot more severe injuries internally and stuff. And thankfully I had all the scans done in the hospital and everything has come back clear. But I chose not to ride just because I was a bit sore to muscle the bike around the Brno racetrack for a two-race event, so I decided to sit that one out and come back for the next event.
Moderator: The BMW program is in its second year. You’ve been with them since they started last year. The program has made some big strides for 2010. Tell me what your thoughts are on that.
Troy Corser: Last season obviously being our first year in the championship with the mechanics and everybody involved, it was really just a season of gathering as much information as we could so the engineers could actually understand what was happening with the bike and the engine. Where now this year we’ve gone back there with a revised bike, an improved bike from last season, but we’ve got lots of information to compare stuff to from last season and really just setting the bike up for the race weekend instead of testing and development stuff at the race circuit. So the results are coming and I think we should have a pretty good bike ready for next season to compete for the World Championship.
Moderator: You’re in seventh place now in the standings. What are your realistic goals for this season?
Troy Corser: Before Brno, my goal was actually going to be like third in the championship. I was only, I think, 30 points off third position and there’s still a lot of points out there and we can get some good results to make up that gap. But unfortunately missing Brno has maybe dropped us back a bit, not in positions, but just in points lost to the guys in front. So top-five I think is still a realistic goal, and I think I’ll be happy with that and I think BMW will be happy with that going into next season.
Moderator: Do you think a win is possible for you this year?
Troy Corser: Yes, I do. I’ve led races now a few times this season and unfortunately just dropped back and finished on the podium. At Misano I probably should have won the first race there, but I ran off onto the Astroturf coming out of one of the corners and lost drive and Biaggi passed me and then from that point on I was not able to get back in front. But looking forward to Silverstone, the next racetrack, I believe the BMW is going to work well. We’ve got really good top speed now and acceleration off the corners, and the electronics are working really well now with the engineers having a lot more stuff to look at and compare and improve for me. I’m feeling really good on the bike and being able to do some testing away from the racetrack as well, which has been really good to go out there with no pressure and just try some new stuff on the bike and really spend the time.
Moderator: What does next year look like?
Troy Corser: Next year’s bike we’ll actually get I think at the end of August, so we’ll start testing that. A lot of the cosmetics on the bike at the moment are really based around the production bikes. That’s all individual panels and stuff, so I think the race bike will be a much more single-unit part, like the rear seat section and the fuel tank will all come off together and stuff. So with the guys working on the bike, it will speed things up and make it a lot more easy for everybody.
Moderator: You had a pair of fifth-place finishes here at Miller Motorsports Park this year. Tell me how you feel about the track here and how it compares to some of the other tracks you race on.
Troy Corser: To be honest, it’s probably one of the smoothest racetracks that we come to now. There’s a few of the tracks we go to that are quite bumpy, and so it’s always nice to come back to America with a lot of supporters out there. I know all the riders really enjoy coming out there and racing on a venue like that with all the pit boxes and everything and the crowds cheering over the fence. And it was really good. So I’m looking forward to coming back next season and actually improving on those top-five positions.
Operator: Our first question comes from Jim McDermott from SuperbikePlanet.com.
Jim McDermott: Hey, Troy, thanks for taking time out to talk to us on a day when you probably want to be sleeping.
Troy Corser: Yes, I’m actually just lying back watching television and resting, so it’s all good.
Jim McDermott: Okay. We watched you real closely during your tenure with Foggy Petronas. And in watching you with BMW, some contrasts kind of leaped out. It seemed like when you were riding with Foggy Petronas you made the difference with the bike. It handled really well and there were a couple of times when it seemed like you might snatch a victory. But the power of the bike wasn’t there. Now you’ve got a BMW that seems like it’s got quite a lot of motor and I’m just wondering as someone unique in the paddock, having gone through two similar situations of a brand-new bike from scratch, going out there and trying to compete with well-established factories that have been in the series for a long time, and being the rider and having to kind of make up the difference where maybe it isn’t in the bike all the time… what’s that like? What is the difference between your Petronas experience and this, and just what the bike is like overall?
Troy Corser: The Petronas project was certainly quite unique, starting from a piece of paper literally and designing the bike and all that before I actually got a chance to ride it. And then developing that from scratch with a triple engine which was pretty unique as well for a race engine for many years. So unfortunately, like I said, the bike handled really well, but we had a bit of mechanical problems with the engine, with overheating pretty much, which was unfortunate but a problem you get with triples. And we couldn’t quite rectify it to make it last with the horsepower that we were trying to produce from the engine. And then we turned it down, so at the finish it wasn’t fast enough to compare against the 1000cc bikes. But we gained so much experience at developing something from the beginning, all the stuff involved with the spring arm strength and twists and contortions and stuff and tried many different things which has actually helped a lot since I got off that onto the other bikes I got onto. And especially now with BMW, with all the resources that we’ve got, we can really use the latest technology to build the bike of the future, pretty much.
Jim McDermott: Davide Tardozzi told us that BMW had chosen to go with their own electronics which made the job a lot more difficult in terms of you guys being competitive. How is that coming around now? It certainly seems like it’s coming on strong, but was that a big part of why last year was so challenging, because you guys were starting with not only a brand-new bike but with a completely unique electronics package in the paddock?
Troy Corser: Yes, obviously electronics is a huge area where you can make the bike better or worse by if it’s working the right way or not. And then obviously while you’re trying to develop an engine with power curve deliveries and torque, maximum torque areas and stuff, they’ve got themselves a big job. But I believe now that they are on top of it and they have got such a wide window that they can do and they’re not really tied into a certain program. They can actually work in the window with a Marelli system or similar. And they have got so many people in BMW that have got so much experience in traction control, electronics, engine braking, fuel injection, all that sort of stuff that I really just needed time to understand where the window was that I need to work into a motorcycle on two wheels compared to a Formula 1 car, for example. So I think they’ve done a fantastic job in the time and as I said, next year’s package is actually a much more simple one because now they know how to control it properly and I think it’s only going to be better.
Jim McDermott: Great. Thanks, Troy.
Troy Corser: No problem.
Operator: Our next question comes from Ron Lieback from UltimateMotorCycling.com.
Ron Lieback: Hi, Troy, I hope you’re feeling well.
Troy Corser: Thank you.
Ron Lieback: I’ve just got a couple here for you. Your pole at Misano was No. 43 in your World Superbike racing career and the first for BMW in the series. What are the significant changes your team has made to the S1000 RR that’s bringing about more competitiveness? Is it with the electronics like you were just like somewhat going towards?
Troy Corser: I’d say probably 30 percent improvement in electronics from the beginning when we first started working with the bike. And then we’ve probably gained another 20 percent out of the chassis. And the engine has probably been another 20 percent, so we’ve still got about 20-30 percent of the improvement in all those areas, just in smaller amounts. But we’ve done all that in sort of nine o 12 months; so we’ve got nice five-percent increases now just in all those areas and I think the bike is going to be ready to be a full race bike ready to compete.
Ron Lieback: Concerning Brno, last year you had your best finish of the season there with the Beemer. And recently you said that the track favors the S1000 RR. After coming off of BMW’s first-ever World Superbike Superpole at Misano, do you think you would have had that much success at Brno?
Troy Corser: Yes, for sure. Brno is a circuit where you need very good acceleration up the hill all the way through the power curve and our engine is now well over 200 horsepower getting to the back wheel, which if you’ve got that and good connection with the throttle, with the engine, it’s definitely what you need to win races in Brno. So if you look at the results that Ruben was doing or the performance that Ruben put in, it shows that the bike definitely has the potential not just with myself on it, but with Ruben on it, and even in the Superstock events showing how strong it is in that category. So the bike definitely is strong all around.
Ron Lieback: Cconcerning Silverstone, you have two podiums at Silverstone, one with Suzuki and one on the Yamaha. Considering your positive results there, do you think you’ll have similar results on the BMW? And do you think the track will favor the BMW?
Troy Corser: Yes, as long as I’m 100-percent fit, I believe that we should minimum be on the podium at Silverstone and hopefully go for our first win. I’m probably one of only a few riders that have actually ridden on the old circuit, which is like the first two thirds of the track. And I’ve always gone well there and the bike has obviously got top speed. So with all those three combinations, I think the results for the rest of the season, not just at Silverstone, but at Silverstone in particular, we’ve got the strength and we should have a great result there.
Ron Lieback: Concerning you, Biaggi and Checa, you guys are like three of the oldest riders currently competing in World Superbike. But is it more enjoyable competing with riders with similar experience over riders in their 20s?
Troy Corser: When you’re racing with guys like that, it’s definitely different than when you’re racing with the younger guys. You can’t beat experience that years will get you in the race as well. So the young guys I think are learning a lot actually by racing with guys like me, Checa and Biaggi, and vice versa for us as well We’re racing against these different people now and it is a bit different racing, but it’s all enjoyable and it’s all safe and there’s plenty of room out there for racers although it does get close sometimes, but we’ve all been doing it long enough together that everyone sort of knows where everybody is or their limits.
Ron Lieback: Thank you for your time and I hope you heal up well and I hope to see you on the podium at Silverstone.
Troy Corser: Thanks very much.
Operator: Our next question comes from Chris Jonnum from Road Racer X.
Chris Jonnum: Hi, Troy.
Troy Corser: Good day.
Chris Jonnum: I wanted to get your take on Davide Tardozzi and if you think he’s made a significant difference in the program since he came onboard and what he’s like to work with.
Troy Corser: Yes, obviously my relationship with Davide goes back a long way and we obviously won our first championship together and since then have always been friends, whether it was being in the same team or pit box or being at the other end of the garages. So it’s obviously great getting back with him with all the experience that he’s gathered, and the experience I’ve gained since I left there. It’s really enjoyable getting back working with someone who’s got as much experience as myself and I think for Davide as well with me as a rider. So it’s making things a lot easier in the team to make decisions, trust people to make the call, and we’re getting good results from it.
Chris Jonnum: It seems like you have a pretty good home there and you were just commenting on the age thing. How much longer do you think you’d like to keep going?
Troy Corser: At the moment I’m looking at continuing for next season at least. And that’s sort of what I’ve been looking at for the last few seasons. We take the seasons as they come along. I think BMW will be happy to continue, so I hope at least I can finish my career with BMW whether it’s one more year or two more years or five more years. But I think another two seasons I could definitely get through as long as I stay fit and healthy.
Chris Jonnum: How does the team compare to some others that you’ve been on in the past in terms of just the way they work and their philosophy, things like that?
Troy Corser: I’ve worked with the Japanese, Italians, the Belgians, French, pretty much everybody, and the Germans definitely have their work ethic, obviously. To be honest, it’s been great. They get things done on the right time when it needs to be done and other things take a bit more time, but to be honest, they’ve been really good and I think the Italians, with Tardozzi, and the mix with the Germans, I think it’s working really well for a race team.
Chris Jonnum: Thanks very much.
Operator: . Our next question is a follow-up question from Jim McDermott from SuperbikePlanet.com.
Jim McDermott: Okay, Troy, so we know you’re sick, but I’m going to skip the softball questions, and I’m going to ask you a tough one, okay?
Troy Corser: All right.
Jim McDermott: All right, so there’s been kind of this… I guess, when you watch the races on TV and stuff, you’ve gotten up near the front a few times and I think given a lot of hope to the viewers and the fans that you were going to win one or place a little bit better. But there seems to be a little bit at the end of the races where maybe towards the end of the races you fade at the end or slip back a couple of spots. And people talk, fans talk on the Internet, and some say, "Well, maybe it’s the bike." Others say, "Well, maybe it’s Troy." So it’s a topic of conversation I think that comes up a lot in terms of where you’re at with the bike in this season. So I just wanted to give you the opportunity to say what do you think that is? Is it a tire management issue? Is it electronics? Is it the bike? What do you think is holding you back from maybe the times at the end where it seemed like it was within your grasp, what kept you from getting there? What was that missing ingredient?
Troy Corser: Well, obviously, I think it’s just how close the racing is this year. You really only have to be a couple of tenths of a second off per lap, which over a two-minutes lap is nothing over a race distance. And you’ll be out of the race pretty much. And a lot of that comes down to tire management, absolutely, on all the different bikes. Temperature, also, at different circuits that we’ve been to, that we’ve experienced, got really hot temperatures. Tire selection and even tire quality, to be honest, because we do get the odd tire that doesn’t work the same as the next one, and if you get one of those in a race, you’re likely not to crash, but to drop back a few positions when that happens. As a rider, you’re pretty happy just to get to the end of the race.
It’s easy for people, I think, to sit on the outside to probably think I’m probably getting old or I’m unfit or give up and stuff like that. But to be honest, until they’re out there doing it themselves, it’s real easy to point fingers and blame things, but it’s just the racing at the moment. It’s so close that you’ve only got to be off just a little bit or something not quite right on the bike and someone’s got something a bit better, and they’re going to beat you. That’s the long and short of it.
Jim McDermott: Davide can be a notoriously tough guy at times. How has it been with him in terms of his expectation levels? It seems like a couple of times, when we’ve seen the races on TV, that you see Davide at the end of a race marching down the paddock with a frown on his face. So, I mean, what have those conversations been like? Is he understanding? Does the team understand the challenges that you’re facing with the bike currently? What is that dynamic like in terms of his expectations with you as a manager to a rider?
Troy Corser: Well, to be totally honest, I think he feels that the bike is letting me down at the moment as to results. The bike is not perfect. Like I said, we’re still developing the bike to be a race winner. But I think he’s more than happy with the performance that I’ve put in and the effort and my fitness level and stuff now. If he is frowning, it’s normally because something has happened and that’s why we dropped back in the race. Or something has happened and the results could have been better. But I don’t think he’s disappointed with the way the whole project is going. I think he’s very happy with the way it’s going and probably wants to be taking it down even faster than it is. But that’s good, because that’s what he’s there to do and he’s going to get it done. So I think, for myself as a rider, it’s great because I don’t have to worry about anything else other than riding the bike, doing my part and letting him do his part, and knowing that I can trust it’s all getting done.
Jim McDermott: When we interviewed you in 2004 at Monza, you talked about the Aprilia and said that it was a bike that you felt you should have won a championship on, but the Dunlops let you down that year. And that you were most impressed with that bike out of almost any bike you had ridden. So I’m just curious now that you’ve ridden Ducati, Suzuki, Aprilia, the Petronas and now the BMW, do you have that kind of a feeling with the BMW? Do you have that innate kind of sense that I can win not only races but a championship on this bike?
Troy Corser: Unfortunately, on the Aprilia I thought it was the tires, but it actually wasn’t; it was actually a bad batch of rims that we received from the supplier which was creating a lot of vibration to the bike. When we found where the problem was, it was all too late. But yes, I’ve ridden all the different bikes, I think it’s probably right up there with the best I’ve ridden. So I think it’s definitely real god.
Jim McDermott: Great. Well thanks very much again, Troy. I appreciate your candor and honesty on those questions.
Operator: Our next question comes from Dean Adams from SuperbikePlanet.com.
Dean Adams: One thing that you haven’t really talked about is the one component of Team Corser, and that’s Chris Jensen, who works for you, drives your motorhome, and you two are quite close. And Chris got his start in World Superbike driving the motorhome for his cousin, Scott Russell. You guys have been together for a long time. Can you talk about Chris and your relationship a little bit?
Troy Corser: Yes, obviously I met Chris when I first came over after winning the American Superbike Championship in ’94 and I came over and did a couple of guest rides in World Championship. And he was driving Scott’s motorhome for him and obviously when Scott stopped racing in Europe I thought he’d be a great person to get there. And Chris, or Captain as we call him, knows all the places and looks after the buses and everything, also helps me out now in the pit boxes and with my helmets and everything. He’s a very trustworthy guy and you know he’ll get the job done if you ask him to do it. And obviously for myself, I’ve got many things to do at the track with signing autographs and stuff, that he does all that stuff for me and it’s great. He’s been with me now for I think it’s probably going to be 12 seasons now.
Dean Adams: Ready to retire then. Also, can you talk a little bit about your season with Ferracci when you won the championship here in the U.S.? It was a really tumultuous year and that last round you rode at Atlanta, do you think back to times like that?
Troy Corser: Yes, absolutely. Those were great times, many great memories and as I said, I really enjoy coming back to the states because I’ve built up so many good friends and family and fans over there, that I like coming back to the states. So I really enjoy it there and obviously there’s a good family feeling there with Eraldo and everybody involved and myself together and just have to get out and learn the tracks and work with a team with so much experience in that paddock made it a lot easier for myself just to get out on the tracks and have some fun and win races.
Dean Adams: Great. Thank you.
Operator: We have a follow-up question from Jim McDermott from SuperbikePlanet.com.
Jim McDermott: I just wanted to get your thoughts on how Ruben is doing. I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask the other guy who’s whipping ass on the BMW to comment on the contrast of Ruben’s season and how difficult a time he’s been having, albeit he had a much improved weekend at Brno, but what are your thoughts about what that is? Is it riding style? Is it — I mean, what? Any thoughts at all on your teammates here?
Troy Corser: I think it’s just experience. Obviously myself, with all the experience I’ve gained from riding twins, triples, fours, V-4s, straight 4s, all that sort of stuff, obviously I’ve had to adapt my style to suit the bikes and different engines configurations and chassis and stuff. Where Ruben really hasn’t done that. He pretty much has been groomed on Ducati most of his career. So for him to change his style, he’d really need to want to change his style to be able to, and he just doesn’t seem to be able to do that on the BMW. Whether it’s the engine or the chassis, I’m not really sure, because his setup isn’t that much different than mine now. It was a bit extreme at the beginning, but his engine, the way he likes his engine and his engine brake setting is quite, quite different than mine. So whether it’s style, I think it is. I think that’s just the way he likes to ride and just hasn’t quite got the experience there as myself to know how to change or what to change or change on the bike to make it better for him.
Jim McDermott: Do you think that the bike is — because you mentioned earlier about having to muscle around the bike. Who knows what’s going to happen with Ruben next year, but do you think — you guys are both really big, strong guys. Does the BMW kind of require that kind of a rider? Somebody who is going to be able to kind of deal with all the brute horsepower and muscle a bike around? Or do you think somebody who is less physical and more of a finesse rider would go well on the bike?
Troy Corser: Obviously fitness is always going to be a part of it. But if the bike is set up right chassis-wise and the engine for power delivery, the bike shouldn’t really be that physical to ride if you’re fit. So I don’t think the BMW is any more physical now to ride than any other bike I’ve ridden, but it wasn’t set up right with the engine. So that’s why the Honda is probably the easiest, or even the Aprilia at the moment, to ride because the engine is so smooth with the V4 power. And you use that to get the bike around the track. Not just physical movement, but also using the engine. So the more that helps you, the less effort you have to put in physically yourself. So it also springs around in roundabouts, really.
Jim McDermott: All right. Thanks again, Troy.
Operator: Our next question is a follow up question from Dean Adams from SuperbikePlanet.com.
Dean Adams: Troy, I’m not sure if it would be safe to call you a MotoGP critic, but I think you’ve been critical of MotoGP in the past. I wonder what your thoughts are on MotoGP perhaps adopting some production rules in the future. Your thoughts?
Troy Corser: I think the GP riders at the moment, obviously they’ve got their own regulations for the category. That’s definitely needed for sure to continue. But for myself I think now there’s not that much difference between the GPs and the Superbikes to be honest. So it’s all good and you’ve got to have different categories favorable to move on from the beginning of a career to ultimately have something to shoot at. And if that’s GPs, then that’s what they need to have.
Dean Adams: It’s going to be a fundamental difference, though, if production-style engines are allowed in MotoGP, which is now a prototype series.
Troy Corser: Yes, well if it happens then we’ll wait and see. But I really can’t see the benefits of allowing production-bike engines racing in Grand Prix. Because it’s not like you’re ever going to beat the Grand Prix guys anyway, so you’re really just wasting your time. You may as well go racing production bikes.
Dean Adams: You said when the 990 MotoGP formula came forward, an opinion you had was it was just going to cause some of the Japanese manufacturers to spend themselves into oblivion. And really in Kawasaki’s case and others, they simply just couldn’t afford to do the class anymore. Your thoughts?
Troy Corser: Obviously the big guys are always going to be at the top because it is so expensive now to go racing. When you’re purpose-building anything it’s going to cost a lot of money to reproduce. Where, with production bikes, it’s just a lot more cost-effective and at the end of the day they can sell bikes and make money off the bikes that they race in Superbikes, where in GPs they can’t really.
Dean Adams: Max Biaggi is leading the championship by nearly 70 points now on the Aprilia. Your thoughts on the Aprilia superbike and Biaggi’s performance this year?
Troy Corser: The Aprilia Superbike, I think, is probably more closer to a Grand Prix bike than a Superbike. A lot of the development work that went into that I think comes from their Grand Prix project that they had done a few seasons ago which they frankly pulled out of because of the cost. And their bikes are used to produce a great production bike in the Superbike. But to be honest, I think the Suzuki, the Yamaha, the BMW and the Honda are a lot closer to the production bikes as a superbike than the Aprilia is to the RSV.
Dean Adams: And Biaggi?
Troy Corser: Well, Biaggi, he’s world-class. You don’t win World Championships on 250s and stuff without having a lot of natural talent. And when he’s happy and he’s got everything working around him and his bike and the team, which he’s got a lot of experience and a lot of success with Aprilia, so that all makes a big difference for the rider and for the teams working together at the track.
Dean Adams: Great. Thank you.
Operator: I’m not showing any further questions at this time.
Moderator: Okay. If that’s the case, we can go ahead and wrap this up. We’d like to thank everybody for participating today. And Troy, thank you so much for spending your time with us today when you’re obviously not feeling your best. We appreciate that and we wish you luck the rest of the way this year and we look forward to seeing you back here at Miller Motorsports Park next May.
Troy Corser: Yes, thanks very much.