Nov 13, 2012
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Simon Buckmaster (second from right) with Jules Cluzel (far right).
The last column I wrote was just before our last round at Magny Cours. What a great race that was for us with Jules winning from Sam in wet but drying conditions to complete our second 1- 2 of the year and cap what has been the best season ever for PTR with second and third overall in the Championship.
As a team we won the Manufacturer's Championship for Honda, Jules won the fastest lap award and Jules and Sam finished first and second in the qualifying performance award. I know we did not win the title but I am sure Jules would have at worst given Kenan a much closer run for the crown if he had a better understanding of our bike and the tyres at the start of the season. He came to us late and only tested for the first time at the pre race Philip Island test. From round four onwards (Monza) he outscored Kenan. That is impressive.
By now you will all know Jules has left us to sign for Crescent Suzuki in WSB. Some, including me, would say what a strange thing to do. We as a team are of course disappointed. Jules was influenced by his manager who just so happens is also the new Suzuki Moto GP test rider Randy De Puniet's manager. He thought Suzuki was a better opportunity than winning the WSS title with us - a task he would at worst have started the year as equal favourite with Kenan Sofuoglu to do. I am sure you can all see that finishing at best around eighth in WSB for Suzuki will be far less advantageous for his career than winning the World Supersport Championship. Previous WSS winners Cal Crutchlow, Chas Davies and multi race winner Eugene Laverty all moved up to compete on Superbikes with real Championship winning potential which is completely different to what Jules is doing.
I did advise Jules to wait one more year when the rule changes would have made a much more level playing field, but the temptation of WSB now was too much. Don't get me wrong, he did a great job for us and I wish him all the best for next year and beyond and would welcome working with him again anytime in the future, but doubt his choice will give him the launch pad he is looking for. It makes as about as much sense as Lewis Hamilton leaving McClaren for Mercedes. Similar in that only the increase in money makes sense.
Sam has also moved on and some of you may be surprised because PTR is his personal management team and we did a deal for him to race as our rival. I have always said we would never hold Sam back and his new team had the chance of offering him a three-year deal with Superbike as part of the contract. We could not offer this so are happy that Sam has a new opportunity which we hope he has much success with. Sam is a great rider and we look forward to competing with him in 2013.
Kenan is back again next year but he is changing teams and other technical parts so all the front runner will be in new situations: Kenan, new team; Sam new bike and team and PTR with new riders.
We have announced two riders so far In Luca Maconi and Imre Toth. All our riders will be different this year and I would like to take this opportunity to say although Martin, Ronan and Mathew are not with us next year, we enjoyed working with them and wish all three every success in your new opportunities whatever they are. In the case of Ronan as I write this I am not sure if that is Motorcycle Racing or acting.
I know you will all be thinking who PTR will have as what is perceived as our lead rider and I expect to be able to tell you all in the next couple of weeks. I will say that this rider and the other two riders to name along with Luca and Imre will continue to help us build the strong spirit of the PTR team and we aim to be running at the front again in WSS 2013.