In 2013, Matteo Baiocco will be the only Italian rider to take part in the British Superbike Championship, and there is now doubt that the 28 years old is definitely up for the challenge.
Nicknamed ‘Baiox‘ and ‘The Black Ship‘, Baiocco comes to Britain with two consecutive Italian SBK titles under his belt and some wild-card experience in the World Championship, and will race under the banner of the Rapido Sport Racing Ducati team, that will field the much-hyped Ducati 1199 Panigale.
One of the reason that convinced team owner Steve Moore to pick Baiocco for the upcoming season is that the Italian has been heavily involved with the development of Ducati’s latest weapon, hence he should be the right man to help the team around the brand new machine.
Our mates from twin site Motoblog.
it picked up the phone to ask Baiocco what’s his take on winter testing and the expectations for the new season, which will begin at Brand Hatch next week (in conjunction with the first round of MotoGP World Championship) and here’s what he told us:How did the pre-season testing go?“Generally speaking, it’s been good, although we had to deal with plenty of rain and cold and, for this reason, we were not able to spend much time on the track.
Sometimes there were 3 or 4 riders missing, but the top teams were always there and so we have had the chance to make a nice comparison with the riders I will have to face this season.
”It must not have been that easy to get on the track in the cold British spring…“We bumped into some really extreme conditions, something that not even the English riders were accustomed to.
At Snetterton, on the first day of testing, there were just 2 degrees, with 4 degrees on the asphalt, and there is just no way you can get out there in such conditions.
On the second day the conditions were not that great either – everybody was at least two seconds slower than the normal race times – and yet I managed to finish 8th in the time-sheet: it is a good result, considering that I did not know the track.
In general I am happy, the beggining of the season was fine.
”The BSB season will begin on the 7th of April at Brands Hatch, a track that you know from your years in the World Supersport Championship.
What do you expect from your debut?“Having the chance to get started on a circuit that I know for 3/4 – since basically there’s just one corner missing – it is definitely an advantage for me: if the first round were to be on a a completely unknown track it would have been much more difficult.
The toughest tracks will come later, but I hope that by then we will be more well-prepared and competitive.
Brands Hatch, however, has always been one of my favorite circuits: it is fast-paced and has some nice up-and-down, I hope to do well.
”How’s the feeling with the Panigale?“I think the feeling is very good at the moment, and the fact we can work and share the track with Ducati’s SBK test team is very helpful to us, because anything good that comes out of that can be transfer on my BSB spec bike at once.
I’ve done a lot of work and covered many miles with them, so when it was time for my first BSB test I felt quite comfortable right from the start, even though in BSB there are different regulations as well as different tires.
However, it is a bike that I really like: I have found it better than the old one right away.
”And what about the team?“The team really is ‘the right one’.
In recent years I had a great relationship with the Barni Team, and here I’ve basically found their English counterparts, and we are getting along really well.
What the team wants from me are guidance and tips to keep on growing, and so they try to make me happy in every way, including the technical and logistic matters.
They’re focused, determined and ambitious, and yet they have an humble approach.
”Since the news came out that you were about to join the BSB, the British press has given quite some space.
How is your relationship with them at the moment?“Perhaps it is even better, because they are getting to know me.
During the pre-season tests they saw I was one of those ‘at the front’, and in one session I ended up topping the timesheet, something that is never easy on their home soil.
Of course it will depend on what we will be able to achieve: if we do well the interest will rise even further, but even now we have people and journalists coming over and asking questions, and that’s always a good thing.
”Now that you have shared the track with the other guys, who do you think will be the man to beat this season?“Byrne for sure, the defending champion: he’s World Championship material, and has always done really well in this Championship.
And I think that the guys from Samsung Honda and Milwaukee Yamaha will be very competitive too.
Generally speaking, I think that the riders of the usual top teams will be points of reference for all the others.
As for me, I will try to become a steady presence in the top ten.