Switching class at mid-season is never easy, it's even harder if you have to learn a new track every weekend. Russell Holland has anyway proven to be fast and competitive from the beginning of his new experience in World Supersport, that's been...
Switching class at mid-season is never easy, it's even harder if you have to learn a new track every weekend. Russell Holland has anyway proven to be fast and competitive from the beginning of his new experience in World Supersport, that's been also "friendly" named the class of the axe murderers. After three races and one test session in Vallelunga with the largely experienced HANNspree Honda Althea team, Russell Holland explains his point of view about the season so far and the future.
"This year is certainly an initiation for me... new tracks and a new lifestyle in living in europe by myself on top of world championship competition has been a real challenge but I'm trying to appreciate this experience as I know everyone here has had to go through it and in the future I'll be laughing about the challenges along the way...haha"
Tell us about the latest round at Brands Hatch, England..
"Well, this was a weekend to forget in many ways. For our team it is incredible the bad luck we had. But the circuit was amazing and I can say I really enjoyed riding it although It's a track that takes some time to link the turns together and get a flow going. On saturday afternoon we caught the worst of a small rain shower that interrupted qualifying.
I was on my best lap when the rain came and then in the final 5 minutes when the track had dried we just couldn't find a gap in the traffic and couldn't improve. So on Sunday we were set to start from 15th but on the warm-up lap I had a clutch failure, just pure bad luck. This forced us to start from the spare bike and from the back of the grid in 37th place.
We got a great start in the race but from the third lap it began to rain and got heavier in the next 5 laps. On the 8th lap the race leader Robbin Harms crashed then I crashed on the same turn whilst in 15th place... The race was red-flagged immediately after this, my bike was too badly damaged to return to the pits as the rule says you must. Because of this I could not restart even on my spare bike. A frustrating end really".
About the loss of Craig Jones
"After retiring from the race in Brands I witnessed Craig's crash and you cannot imagine a crash like that happening, it was very strange. I knew him reasonably well and he was one of the boys and a nice guy. It is sobering when something like this hits someone you know. My heart goes out for the family and close friends of Craig".
Back to business, how did your partnership with HANNspree Honda Althea was made?
"I started the year in the Superbike class and we achieved some promising results early on when we had a chance to test on the circuits. I'm proud that we finished in the top ten (9th) at the 2nd round, my home race in Australia. It was not so easy as the championship moved back to Europe but we did manage three more point scoring finishes before the mid-season (13th Valencia, 13th Monza, 15th Utah).
I'm now really happy to be competing in the Supersport class with HANNspree Honda Althea. It was strange to change classes mid season but my superbike team's future was not clear and the Althea team needed a rider after Tommy Hill was injured. This change was a positive one for sure because I can continue with Honda and the Althea team has experience running at the front in Supersport".
How was the debut like? What did you feel about the new experience about to start?
"I think the debut at Misano was a good lesson in Supersport. Launching straight into a race meet and learning a new bike is pretty exciting. I was riding with too much of a superbike style initially. We just kept chipping away and by the finish of qualifying we were 7th... ok for the first go.
Unfortunately in the race I crashed out being too eager to catch the leaders after a bad start. I lost the front end on a turn we'd had trouble with all weekend. Had I been more patient we probably could have made a great result there as the race pace was not so fast".
What about Vallelunga Test, how much did it help?
"Obviously every track this year is new to me and Vallelunga was a very challenging circuit so I'm glad we could test there. The first part of the track reminds me of Assen a little with fast change of directions. We achieved a lot there with me adjusting to the bike better and just general set-up too",
Let's talk about Brno, your best finish so far this season
"This year has been full of 'frustrating Fridays' for me as I learn a new track every weekend whilst trying to give constructive feedback to the team. Brno was just like this so it was really good to finish the race and get a good result for the team and myself (7th place). I didn't really get a good feeling with the front there but we made a fairly smooth race and moved forward in the final laps, to finish 7th in the second race with HANNspree Honda Althea was fairly satisfying and I feel it has set us up to finish the year well".
Your next year expectations and for the rest of this season
"This year was always going to be a learning curve. The rest of the year will be no different but I believe I can continue to improve my performances and I will be working hard to get on the podium this year! I know I can make a strong championship next year whether in Supersport or Superbike. I have not made plans for next season yet. I have a great team right now and I'll do my best to use that to my advantage".