Claudio Corti Interview
Claudio Corti is one of the several seasoned European riders that has taken up residence in 2016 MotoAmerica. Currently, Claudio is riding in the Superstock 1000 class for Aprilia HSBK, an independent rider team based out of Houston.
Corti has competed in all of the notable motorcycle championship throughout the world. In 2005, he was the World Superbike Superstock 600cc champion and that propelled him through the ranks of WSBK and eventually MotoGP, after completing several seasons in Moto2.
We sat down with Corti and asked him a few questions about his experiences in the US so far, as well as how he feels about where we currently stand in the world racing market. Until the sixth round of the MotoAmerica championship at Barber Motorsports Park, Corti was looking like he would win the title. However, at Barber, Corti missed a gear and suffered a nasty highside aboard the RSV4, which then needed major repairs for the second race of the Superstock 1000 series that only allows a one-bike entry. In the crash Corti suffered broken ribs and a broken ankle, but rode in race two, finishing an impressive eighth overall.
Following two rounds in Utah and Laguna Seca, Corti is now second in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class points – 13 behind leader Josh Herrin (Yamaha).
We caught up with Corti as he preps for the final race of MotoAmerica at New Jersey Motorsports Park September 9-11.
Ultimate Motorcycling: Thanks for sitting down with us. Aprilia HSBK has been having a good season, and made quite a showing in Superstock. You just joined up with the team and this is your first season in MotoAmerica. I was wondering if you would like to talk about the skill level and type of competition that you’re facing in the United States, as well as some the issues that foreign rider’s race.
Claudio Corti: Everywhere you go – I mean, I’ve been able to go all over the world, from the IDM Championship (Germany), Australian and Russian championships, CEV in Spain – so everywhere you go, the level is always high. The tires are different, the tracks are different, you cannot go there and (snaps fingers) – you have to learn always – and everywhere.
I’d never ridden with Dunlops, and I’d never ridden with an Aprilia, and I’d never ridden most of the tracks, so every time, it was a new experience for me. We did a great job until Barber. At Barber we had a bike issue and I wrecked hard. I broke a few ribs and an ankle. So, in Utah it was hard to breathe, even on the straight.
I tried to keep the point gap close, but Herrin did six wins in a row and was in great shape. Now, we just have to put pressure on him until the last race in New Jersey.
But about coming here – we were only able to do one test before the first race in COTA. The bike was immediately working well; we only had to make a few adjustments. In New Jersey, we had a super great weekend and from there started our good moments, until two races ago.
We are happy anyway, because the goal this year was to learn the tracks and learn the tires, then swap to the big Superbikes next year if they will change the rules because, at the moment, it seems like it’s a Yamaha Championship here. I’m waiting. I hope that they will change the rules because I think that the Aprilia has huge potential here, even with the Dunlop tires.
If we do make the switch, we’ll bring in support from Aprilia Italy and we’ll be a factory team 100 percent. It will be a shame if they refuse to change the rules to FIM regulation rules, and lose the brand, because, if they don’t change the rules, Bobby (Team Owner of Aprilia HSBK) will stop next year. Anyway, we try.
UM: There’s a lot riding on the rule change. The story behind you coming on board is pretty impressive. Can you talk about that a little?
CC: You know, I came here March 3 and it was…go! I don’t know anybody; I didn’t have a place to live. I did it because I like America; I like American tracks. Indianapolis, COTA, and Laguna Seca are the only American tracks that I knew before coming, but I always enjoy riding here. So why not? Let’s try something different. I’ve done pretty much everything in my career from 125cc 2-stroke GP to MotoGP, so why not trying something different?
UM: How do you feel about our youth programs for young racers in the US?
CC: That’s (shakes head) that’s a problem. For me, that is the reason you don’t have young riders with serious skill. There is no independent team that can compete with Y.E.S. Yamaha of Garret Gerloff and JD Beach. They’re young and they’re fast, but no one else can compete with them because of the level of the bike and the team.
For me, the guy that we need to keep our eyes on is Joe Roberts with Wheels In Motion/Meen Motorsports, because he can grow a lot but he cannot stay here. He has to move somewhere else – either CEV or somewhere else. At the moment, our championship in Italy, the level is so high, but the problem is that there is no money there. They are all ex-MotoGP riders or ex-WSBK riders, there is Rocco, and others. The best opportunity to grow will be to go there.
If you stay here, you will never learn. And another thing – just here – we use Dunlops. Everywhere else, we use Pirelli, so that will create problems. Joe Roberts is still so young and he can be fast.
What they need right now is a good talent scout – taking the rider and try to grow the rider. Here, if they don’t know the rider, the story behind him or any background. They don’t care. There is someone really fast. Another one for me is Cameron Peterson but f***, with that Suzuki, it’s impossible to compete with the Yamaha.
UM: Both Valentine Debise and Cameron Peterson have been doing a great job.
I remember Road America, f***…the bikes were like 15 mph slower than the Yamahas, maybe not 15 mph, but 10 for sure. There is a huge difference between the teams. The level also – someone comes with the motorhome and the trailer, then someone else comes with the big hauler. It’s like this more or less everywhere, in every championship.
But, I think that this year, MotoAmerica has grown a lot. Toni Elias and I came here, along with several other riders. In Europe we made a statement because now a lot of riders are trying to come over, so I think we’ve helped a lot. I think someone else can come here, just you know to raise the level and raise the level of the team, because if I move here next year with the Superbike class, we will bring engineers and Italian factory support.
UM: But to be clear, you and Bobby will only make the switch if MotoAmerica adopts FIM rules.
CC: We want a full adoption of FIM rules. There is no sense in doing another season in Superstock – we want to grow as a team. I want to have fun and try to win with the Superbike because I think I can compete with them but we cannot change the swingarm, we cannot change the linkage, we cannot change the triple clamps. If we stay with the Superstock, it’s like a million dollars cheaper, so the question is why to swap.
To Bobby, it’s like, “I can stay, I can spend my money,” Because at the moment, aside from small sponsors which do help, he’s doing it alone. He’s ready to spend the money, even more money, if the rule change happens. Because everywhere else — The Italian Championship, CEV, IDM —they use the WSBK/FIM rules.
UM: Do you think that is going cause problems for riders leaving the US racing market when attempting to break into the world stage?
CC: Yes and no. Everywhere else, you can compete and you have the same opportunity as other riders – you grow as a rider if you have the same opportunities, the same fight. Here, you come and you know you cannot finish above fourth place anyway because the two Suzukis, the two Yamahas, and maybe Jake Gagne sometimes. So, that’s why we are saying “Why do the Superstock,” because we are finishing fourth and fifth, we know we can do more.
UM: You’ve had a unique opportunity in that you’ve seen more than just the European tracks. You’ve also done time in Russia and Australia. How does the US stack up against the world market in terms of technicality, conditioning, and that sort of thing?
CC: The problem, even here – you cannot go and ride a motorcycle because of the sound restriction. That makes no sense. You cannot have an idea of what a bike can do, if you’re being restricted. Even the tracks here in the US are awesome! Up and down, Road America, Road Atlanta – super fun tracks, VIR, I enjoy them a lot.
But, the main problem is that they do not take care of the surface because they only care about the cars. So the surface everywhere is shit. Bumping, sealer, f***…they don’t care, they don’t give a f*** about motorcycles and when it’s raining? F*** it’s dangerous. VIR? First corner? Under the f***ing storm and you feel the sealer (mimics bike shaking) but the layouts, they’re so fun.
It doesn’t take too much, just a little bit more conditioning. Even the curb paint, f*** it’s just paint! Once or twice year you have to repaint! Why not just change the paint with the new technology! (laughs) It nearly costs the same but to riders it’s a huge difference.
UM: So, if the Aprilia Superbike team doesn’t work out next year, what are your plans for the future? Are you going to head back to Europe and continue racing?
CC: I don’t think so. I already did what I wanted to do. I came here to try something different and enjoy the American lifestyle. I would enjoy it very much to stay here but I don’t want to do Superstock anymore, it doesn’t make sense. You know, I’ve had the opportunity to work with teams that really work with the bike. Here, the crew can only do so much – they cannot develop the bike.
I think the potential of this bike, in this configuration, if we can change a few things will be much better. Even with some minor changes; changing the swing arm, the links, the triple clamp and the tank; being able to shift the weight. We don’t need all of the packaging, that’s all we need. We want to show up as a factory team next year so we can compete with the Yamaha and the Suzuki. At the moment, we haven’t decided anything yet, we’re waiting for MotoAmerica and then we will decide.
UM: Alright, thanks for everything. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
CC: Ciao mama, ciao papa!