BSB: An Interview with PBM's Christian Iddon
I caught up with Christian Iddon and we talked all things from British Superbikes to Lightning McQueen
So lets start off Christian what is the plan for the 2021 season?
"The plan for this year is essentially the same as last year, I am still with the PBM Ducati Squad. I am hoping for a much more normal season, because last year the Championship was run differently so, I am looking forward to a few more normal weekends".
How different was it with no crowds or fans at trackside in 2020?
"When I am racing it is not very different, but when I finish you wave to the crowd and then realise there is nobody there to wave to. But, as a racer the weekend is much, much easier without the crowd. That said its not that I don't want crowds, it's just an observation, it is just the truth. We only ride two or three times a day, but we have to spend a lot of time debriefing with our technicians and then we have to do the job side of the job. Things like pit-lane walks, sponsor talks and the TV interviews we have to do for the job. So the weekends become crazy busy, like when you are trying to go from the pits to your motor home it can become quite busy when signing autographs. I really miss the fans though, but from a job side it is much easier."
You won your first race at Snetterton and nearly fell off after what happened?
"It was just one of those moments, you have raced hard for however many laps, and you nearly fall off after it all. I turned round to shake hands with Josh Brookes and Glenn Irwin had pulled out in front of me when waiting to congratulate with me. I turned around and faced forward and there was a Honda parked in front of me, I really thought I had crashed, but somehow through pure want and need to hold it up I had managed to hold it up."
What did it actually feel like to stand on top of a BSB podium after winning?
"Do you know what, it was actually quite underwhelming! I felt like I had won the race twice as I misread my pit board on the second to last lap, I thought it was my last lap and kept my head down. I hit all my marks, came out the last corner expecting to see the chequered flag looming. But, I still had another lap to go! I had to go through it all again, and then crossing the line it felt like it was a long time coming for me. I was very happy, but by the time I had rolled to turn one I had remembered there were two races to go tomorrow, so I had to focus on them. I almost felt like I should have won a BSB race before because I am used to winning, but it is a big step towards the dream of being the champion." "With my family not being there it was a shame also because they have been there since day dot." "Underwhelming is probably the word, but you have to understand I feel like that due to expecting myself to win".
Christian after winning his first BSB race at Snetterton!
You were very good when you were racing in supermoto, what was supermoto like?
"Supermoto almost came easy to me. I had just stopped motocross because I was getting injured too much. But, after my first race in supermoto I was racing with the best in the country. I am not sure why it came so easy to me, it was just one of those things." "I potentially pushed myself a bit too far above my own talent level, but I never realised how hard tarmac was and I just went as hard as I could because it just felt natural to me. It never did anything wrong to me for such a long time and I wasn't anything special really, I just jumped on the bike and was competing at a high level very quickly."
Iddon showing his skills on a supermoto bike!
Is one of the reasons you want to win because of your success in supermoto?
"Yeah, I had a lot of success in supermoto and my aim in that was to be World Champion. But I never reached this, if I had stayed I would like to think I would of been." "Supermoto was always just meant to bridge the gap between motocross and circuit racing. I was a professional rider and I was getting paid to do something that came almost easy to me. I had to leave supermoto and go to circuit racing sooner rather than later though." "I had a three year plan for when I entered circuit racing: year one would cost me, year two I had to break even and year three I had to be on the good side of things or I would have to return to supermoto!"
Swapping from supermoto to circuits must be hard, what was the hardest part?
"By far the hardest thing was no matter how good you are you always need a good team around you and the best piece of kit. I came from a motocross and a supermoto background where if you are good enough you could win on anything. But, when I switched full time to circuit racing in BSB I realised if you had the right equipment and the right people working on that equipment you could get the best out of your ability. But, if you don't have the best equipment or the best team around you you're basically nobody, so that was very hard for me to take. My first season I jumped straight into BSB and I don't believe I had the best team around me and that made it very difficult. After my first season of circuit racing I nearly quit racing all together! This was because I spent all I had earned through supermoto to get to where I was and I didn't enjoy it, and it was hard because I wasn't the best rider out there, and I knew I wasn't. I couldn't gel with the team or the environment. But thankfully I never did quit."
You must feel very grateful for not quitting back then after such a great 2020?
"It was a good season but it's nothing less than I expect for myself. Coming into the season I knew it was a massive opportunity for me! I think I might of approached it a bit incorrectly as I approached it as my one shot! But, I have another chance and the team and bike are great. My teammate is probably the best rider to have as a teammate because of how skillful and head strong he is. I will just have to go out there and do better than I did in 2020."
You mentioned Josh Brookes, what is the relationship like between you two?
"Yeah, we had a rough patch in the middle of the season. But, we are very similar people we're quite quiet and we both love motorcross! During testing we got along really, really well and we had great deep discussions with one another and he is an interesting character. But, after Snetterton the relationship went downhill very quickly, but the pressure was relieved after a conversation between us. But at Brands he was the Champion so I have to congratulate him as he did better than me. Hopefully this year from the offset he will know that I am not willing to roll over and let him have the championship. But, as teammates you don't have to be friends, the relationship is as good as it needs to be. We don't not get on, we don't overly get on and I don't think we would have each other round for dinner, it is just how it is. We get on more than good enough. It's hard after coming off the back of having Michael Laverty and Keith Farmer as my teammates at BMW who I got on with very well." "When you get to Brands and both me and Josh can win the championship of course we will butt heads. Josh was employed primarily to win the Championship, so I know the pressure was on him more. Plus when the new rider comes in and is there fighting with him of course you will not want to be best friends as it is all part of the job."
Iddon leading his teammate Josh Brookes!
What was the switch like from Tyco BMW towards PBM Ducati?
"I was leaving Tyco BMW no matter what at the end of 2019, even if I was unemployed. Neither myself or the team felt like we were going forwards, after 4 or 5 years I had become part of the furniture, but to take a step forward in my career I felt like I needed a new team. I am pretty easy going so I think I gelled nicely with the team (PBM), but you would have to ask them what they thought of me." "In terms of the bike, it is completely different it allowed me to do things I never thought I would be able to. I watched Scott (Redding) and Josh (Brookes) the year before and they would pass people on the brakes with ease and I thought it was an impossibility. It turns out it is possible, and I firmly believe that most riders in BSB are capable of being at the front but it is the bike that allows us to do those things. For whatever reason the Ducati is a better package and it made my life a lot easier." "My riding style didn't really have to change, you as a rider do what your tools allow you to do and there is a lot of talk of 'Oh I have changed this way of riding and I have changed this.' But I think this is a lot of talk and not a lot of proof. You try to adapt to a new bike the best you can especially with the Ducati that generates so much power, but you get used to it. To be honest it took me too long to get used to it."
You swap your helmet design a lot, but where did Lightning McIddon come from?
"I think Lightning McQueen is just a cool dude ain't he. He was the nice guy that was focused so much on racing that he forgets his friends, and you have to bring yourself back and see who you have around you. I see a lot of characteristics in an animated car that I also see in myself. Its started from there and the Lightning part stuck, so did the helmet design as well and the whole thing just stayed." "A lot of kids love it to be fair, a lot of children see me on pit lane and mention it cause they can associate me to Lightning McQueen, so it gives them someone they can loosely relate to Lightning so they have someone to be a fan of."
Christian sporting the Lightning Mcqueen look!
Favourite Form of Training?
"At the moment Zwift which is indoor bike riding, which is actually turning into a lot of racing which isn't ideal really!"
Who was your favourite bike racer when you were growing up?
"Ricky Johnson. An American motocross rider. I just thought he was cool, and when I was a kid America was that cool place where all the good riders came from. So I just thought he was the main man basically."
Ricky Johnson in action
What do you prefer supermoto or superbike racing?
"Supermoto! I must admit I don't enjoy the superbike racing as much as I used to enjoy the supermoto racing. The supermoto bike gives me much more freedom and more ability to play with the bike compared to a superbike." "You can play with the bike much more and you can do things with your skills, especially with motocross. But, with superbike racing you can't really give someone the 'Wow Factor' because an experienced group and a beginner group in superbike look almost identical. But, in supermoto or motocross they look totally different and can give you that 'Wow Factor'."
Finally, 2021 do you think you can be the BSB Champion?
"In my opinion yes I can, someone has to be. It is all I go racing for. I have all the tools at my disposal and I have a year of experience at the team and on the bike which I believe will help me out a lot. So yeah there is no reason why I can't do it." "Josh will definitely be my biggest rival as the reigning champion, he is so mentally strong. When you think he is down, he really isn't. You think he is beat but he comes back swinging. Plus he an extremely skillful rider. So yeah Josh will be my biggest rival!"
I personally am very thankful for Christian to take the time out of his day to talk to me about racing and his career!