Ride Rage Radio recently spoke with Jamie Stauffer and, with their permission, we have transcribed that interview to share with you here.
RRR: Jamie firstly welcome to the show, welcome back to Australia after a couple of big weeks of testing over there in Japan for the upcoming Suzuki 8 Hour Race.
Jamie: Yeah, thanks for having us, mate. It’s good to be home, and having a relaxing time before I head back for the race.
RRR: When do you actually head back for the race? Because I think it’s not this weekend, it’s the coming weekend after that, isn’t it?
Jamie: Yeah, I believe a week today, get back on the plane and get over there for the race, it wasn’t too hot for the tests, so hopefully it’s going to stay that way for the race… It’s always been pretty damn hot for the race, so hopefully this year it might be a little cooler for the race.
RRR: From memory, this is about your sixth go at Suzuka 8 Hour race, and of all of the Aussies and gee there are quite a few competing this year, you’d have to be the most experienced Aussie rider at the Suzuka 8 Hour Race.
Jamie: Yeah, I’ve been doing it for a while now… my first one was back in 2007 and I had a few years when I didn’t go but yeah, I think since 2011 I’ve been going every year since, so I’ve been there a few times now.
RRR: New team mate for you this year as well, I was just wondering how you’ve gone about setting up the bike, because you and Wayne Maxwell were sort of a similar size, yourself and Josh Hook who was partnered up with you last year, a fair bit different in physical size, Troy Herfoss your teammate for this year, how similar are the bikes set ups that you use?
Jamie: A little bit different, I mean the bike is totally different to our Australian bikes, you’ve got to set it up for an endurance race and there’s different stuff you can do to the bike there, but we’ve also got a Japanese rider with us this year and he is pretty small, so the foot pegs are right up high, handlebars are down low and in tight, so it’s pretty cramped, not so much for me, but especially for Troy, he’s a pretty big boy and you know there’s arms and legs going everywhere when he’s on the bike, but yeah, he’s been adapting to it, learning the track, learning the bike and he went pretty well with the first test so he’s going to keep improving and try and get as consistent as possible and that should keep us up there towards the end of the race.
RRR: How important is it for someone like Troy Herfoss to have someone like you in the team, someone that he knows and respects, but has been there and done that track plenty of times? Because it is a pretty special track, with some real peculiarities in it.
Jamie: Yeah, it’s a pretty technical track, really, so you know it takes a bit of getting used to, so to have someone there who has done it a few times, I can sort of give Troy a few pointers on what to expect in the race, and also in different situations of the race, because a lot of stuff happens during the race, people crash and safety cars, and just times when you can come in the pits and you shouldn’t, just sort of gone through a fair bit of that stuff with him, because there’s a lot there to know, because we don’t really do any endurance races in Australia and yeah it’s been a big learning curve for him, but he’s handled it quite well and he rode quite well over there at the test
RRR: Speaking of teammates riding in the test, all four Team Honda Australia riders are over in this test, obviously you’re paired up with Troy, Josh is on a different bike to you guys this year, a completely different team, what’s the makeup of his team?
Jamie: He’s in the team Asia Honda and yeah he’s got two Indonesian riders riding with him and he went quite well at the test and put in some really good laps, and outshone his two teammates by quite a bit, so he should have a good time over there, I think they’ve already told him that he’ll be doing more stints than any of the other two, so yeah, he’ll have quite a busy time.
RRR: And then the Japanese teammate that you’ve got, Jamie, obviously he’d know his way around the track pretty well. How did he compare in speed to yourself and Troy?
Jamie: Yeah, me and him did pretty much the exact same time, and Troy wasn’t that far behind us, so it was quite good, there’s a few things we want to try and sort out with the bike to make it better for the race, easier to ride. Our teammate had a crash on the first day of testing and wrecked one bike and the team got fixed up, and it was pretty good towards the end of the test.
RRR: Obviously the bikes over there are a fair bit different to what we’re riding here in Australia, how tricky is that bike? Is it one of those ones that fell straight out of the back door of the Honda Factory?
Jamie: No, we haven’t got the greatest bike out there, but as far as after-market parts and what have you, but this year they’ve put a couple of new mods on it, like a kit swing-arm and stuff like that, that’s improved our rear grip and it helped the bike finish off corners, so if we can get the front end to feel a bit better, we should be up there.
RRR: The other thing is, I think the team that you’re riding for this year is the same team that you’ve ridden for the last couple of years, so cany arry over in team personnel?
Jamie: Yeah, the same, all the same people in the team and I get on pretty well with them, they’re a good bunch of guys and I think this is their 25th year of doing the Suzuka 8 Hour, so they’ve been doing it for quite a long time and they know all the ins and outs about the race and do a pretty good job at the pit stops, and get good fuel economy out of the bikes and that all helps in the race.
RRR: So what’s the realistic expectation, Jamie?
Jamie: I don’t know, we’ve been in fourth position before on this bike, so I can’t see why we can’t be up there again. Basically it’s not having any dramas during the race or as little dramas as you can and when you do have the dramas, fix them without losing too much time. It’s hard to say, anything can happen in eight hours and it would be a pretty good finish if we could get in the top 5.
RRR: All four of the Honda Australia Factory riders are over there, but one of them isn’t actually riding a Honda,you three blokes ganging up on Wayne Maxwell over there?
Jamie: No, Wayne didn’t go over for the team, so he wasn’t there, but it will be good for the four of us to be over there, ideally it would have been good if we were all in the same tea,, because we all get along good and have fun together. When we were over there for the test one of the nights me and Troy blew Hooky away in ten-pin bowling. But no, we have fun over there and we’ll all be staying around the same area and going out to dinner together and what have you, so yeah, it should be quite good.
RRR: Be good to catch up with other riders coming, like Josh Brookes, Broc Parkes etc. as well.
Jamie: The Australians, and people from all over the world, we get to catch up with, and you get to see them over there.
RRR: One other thing I suppose is probably in the back of your mind after you get back from Suzuka is the fact that you’re currently leading the Australasian Superbike Championship, heading into the second half of the season, Round 4 at Winton, and unlike a lot of your fellow competitors it’s a track that you’ve done plenty of kilometres at over the years as well.
Jamie: Yeah, that’s ride, I haven’t rode at Winton for a long time, but I have had some good success there before and done quite a lot of laps there, so it will be interesting, I imagine it’s going to be quite cold and, if not wet. But yeah, everyone has got to ride the same conditions and we’ll becoming from a pretty hot climate to race in a pretty cold climate down in Winton, but we’ll see how we go.
RRR: Excellent, best of luck to you Jamie, best of luck to all of the Australians over there and hopefully we’ll get some good results and we’ll talk to you when you get back.