Mike Jones – On a mission – By Russell Colvin
With just one round to go in this year’s Swann Insurance Australasian Superbike Championship (ASC), at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend, MCNews.com.au sat down with young gun Mike Jones from Queensland to find out how his year has gone so far.
MCNews.com.au: Mike, well done on a stella job in 2014. This year has been your first year of course racing in the Superbike class. Where almost at the end of ‘school’ for 2014, how has your season gone from your point of view?
MJ: “Everything this year has been awesome really. Being my first year in the Superbike category as a rookie, it’s all about learning and developing your skills and getting as much seat time as possible.
“It’s been good to be on and apart of the Crazy Dogs Kawasaki team. They have helped me develop and improve my skills and other stuff which goes with the job, also being on the Kawasaki ZX-10R has been really good for me as it’s such a fantastic bike to race with. This year has been made as well with all the help from a lot of my sponsors, in particular California Superbike School and XXX Rated Suspension, which has allowed me to improve on my skills and bike setup, which of course is very important. So that’s what this year has been all about and we have made leaps and bounds from the beginning of the year and until now. I believe we have had proof in that.
“At the opening round at Wakefield, if you look at my times from there and compare it to the last round at Wakefield in September, I went almost a second faster. So as I said, there has been a lot of improvements with both riding and bike setup. I’m just really happy with my riding at the moment and I look forward to seeing how we can finish off the year this weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“Of course you have the factory teams, and a lot of experienced riders in front of me, but in saying that at the beginning of the year there were a lot more riders and now being at the very end of the year there really is only about four or five guys who are quicker than me, that are able to finish in the top five sort of mark. So that is my aim for this weekend. That is where I would like to be, and hopefully even make the podium. All in all, it really has been a fantastic year.”
MCNews.com.au: In regards to fitness, how much have you had to step it up a level to be able to ‘man-handle’ such a heavier machine around. I ask that because the last few seasons you have been on a 600 Supersport machine. So did you have to readjust your training at all?
MJ: “It’s really interesting you ask that. That point of view, you would think that because a 600 is such a lighter bike, a lot less horsepower than the 1000cc Superbike that weighs a lot more and has a lot more horsepower it would be harder.
“However, the Kawasaki ZX10R is quite a light bike and it handles really well. So it’s really easy to ride the bike and it doesn’t require a lot of physical input. It’s just a matter of getting your technique right and again, that’s all down to working with the California Superbike School. Getting your technique right and having your skills right so that you can ride the bike in the most efficient way without wasting energy.
“I’m not the biggest person, so I don’t really have energy to waste on the bike and I need to last the full race distance. So it’s just a matter of being efficient on the bike, and of course XXX Rated Suspension get the bike handing so much better which is a massive help. It makes it easier for me to do what I want to do on the bike.”
MCNews.com.au: So this year in the Swann Insurance Australasian Superbike Championship (ASC), your score card looks like this: Round one – fourteenth, Round two – tenth, Round three – tenth, Round four – eighth and Round five – eighth. There are some pretty solid results for someone who has only been racing in the Superbike class for less than one year. Come Sunday night, are you able to give yourself a tick and say “I did everything I could in 2014?”… Or could you have seen yourself getting a few better results than that?
MJ: “I definitely ticked the box that’s for sure! As the year has gone on I have managed to finish within side the top ten for the overall round positions. So I would like to try and bump that up a bit more this weekend, but overall I’m pretty happy with those overall positions.”
MCNews.com.au: In regards to the ASC championship, you sit in tenth place overall. But your only thirty-three points off fellow Kawasaki rider, Sean Condon who is in eighth position. How much would it mean to you to be the first Kawasaki rider home in the championship?
MJ: “Yeah look that would mean a lot to me, to be the first Kawasaki rider home. Of course there are only a few Kawasaki supported riders out there in the field, and I feel very strongly about being a part of the Kawasaki team and would like to be more involved with Kawasaki next year. I certainly think that some of my race results has seen me being the first Kawasaki rider home, but to finish as the championship as the first Kawasaki rider home would be the ultimate.”
MCNews.com.au: Now, let’s talk about 2015. What can you tell us about your plans? What have you currently got on the table?
MJ: “Yeah, nothing at the moment. I don’t have anything sorted out at the minute. Everything at the moment is in negotiation I guess. My plan is to keep riding on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, because I think it’s a good bike, it’s a race winning bike, and I believe we can have it on the podium and winning races next year, so that’s what I want to do.”
MCNews.com.au: Any idea as yet if you will do both championships next year? ASC and ASBK?
MJ: “Again, at this stage it’s still up in the air. We will likely be doing the ASC because it’s quite an appealing championship in terms of where the rounds are located. But there is no doubt we will also be a part of ASBK as well.”
MCNews.com.au: Mike, of course in racing it’s not just about yourself, there is a big team behind you and sponsors who help you out along the way. You must want to send a quick shout-out to a few people?
MJ: “Yeah, you’re not wrong there. I would just like to say a big thankyou to all my sponsors who have supported me this year. It’s just not possible to compete at this level without that sort of help! I sure do hope I have done them proud and look forward to working with them again next year and hopefully do better.”
MCNews.com.au: One more final thing, what’s in store for Mike Jones during the off-season?
MJ: “Probably a lot of running, mountain bike riding, and road cycling. I’m just started to get into a bit of road cycling and plan to get my own road bicycle and really want to get right into that. Most of all I just really want to be fit as I can and get ready to start winning races for next year.”
MCNews.com.au: Mike, thanks for taking the time out today for a chat. All the best of luck for this weekend!
MJ: “Thanks very much, appreciate it.”