Interview with Anthony Gobert, April, 2006
Anthony Gobert Interview 4/22/06, by Liam "Motoliam" Shubert
Anthony Gobert is paying his dues. Again. Having already competed at the highest levels of motorcycle racing since 1992, including WSBK, 500 Grand Prix, AMA Superbike and Superstock, and the Australian Superbike Championships, one would think Anthony would be ready to retire, but the "Go-Show" isn't slowing down a bit. In fact, he's back ontrack, racing in the Spanish National Championship this year, and ready to show the world that even though, "I've been on a roller coaster ride for the last ten years, I've finally got my act back together."
I had the opportunity to spend some time with the notoriously wild rider at the third round of the World Superbike Championship in Valencia, Spain, where Gobert was slated to compete as a wildcard rider. Anthony was excited to be racing in Europe again, and while we spoke he was laid back, composed, and spoke freely about his life and his experiences. Due to an ankle injury sustained in his first session at the track, Anthony was unable to make the WSBK race, but he's confident he'll be ready to battle for the Formula Extreme title in the Spanish National Championship when the season begins in Albacete on May 7th.
Liam: It's been quite a year for you already, what with three international races (2 rides in WSS as a replacement rider for Davide Checa on the GMT 94 Yamaha team and a wildcard entry in WSBK), and moving to Spain to join the Coronas Suzuki team. How did this all come about?
AG: Well, to be honest, I had some time away from racing, and I kinda retired in a way [after the '04 season]. I did the Australian Championship last year, and it took me a lot of the Championship to get my confidence back and get into it again. I just thought that bikes is what I love to do, you know, I just love racing. It's what I've always done. I was going to do the Australian Superbike Championship this year, and I had a bike from Honda with some factory support, and then I got a phone call from GMT about doing the World Supersport. It was a bit of a surprise, really. I got the call on a Saturday and I flew out on a Tuesday morning - it was only really two days notice to get to Qatar! I had such a good time doing the World Supersport, I mean, to be honest, that's the most fun I've had for a long time. It was a really good experience, a good team, and it was awesome to be back in the World scene. I actually did a lot better than what I expected ‚Äì the rear tire came apart on me in Phillip Island, and I probably would have gotten 4th or 5th in that race. I was sixth when I was dicing with them, and I'm just happy to be back on the world scene, you know, just happy that I did some decent results for them.
Liam: With no seat time on the bike, not knowing the crew, and the language difficulties(GMT is a French team), what was riding the new '06 Yamaha like?
AG: You know, the Yamaha 600 is such an awesome bike, it's so fun to ride. The bike was brand new, and it lacked a bit on the acceleration, but with the 600 you can make up for it a bit with corner speed. And the Supersport tires have really progressed. It's really weird that with the treaded [Supersport] tires, there's two inches of on the side which isn't treaded. They're pretty much slicks nowadays, but they give you a better feel than the slicks. You always know where you're at on the Supersport, you can feel the front move around and the Pirellis really surprised me. They were really good. Being back in Europe got me thinking that I wish I could have done the full season with them. They're really happy with what I did, especially with no testing.
Liam: Now you're with the Coronas Suzuki team. [ed. Not to be confused with the Corona Alstare Suzuki WSBK team. Coronas is a Spanish Tobacco company] Can you tell me a little bit about what it's been like working with them?
AG: I already had a factory support ride in Australia with the same team I rode with in
'05, Redwing Honda, so I knew what I was going to be doing this year, and then I got a phone call and got asked if I was interested in coming to Spain. I thought about it for a bit, and I thought at least it's a chance to get back into Europe and get a bit known again. I hadn't been getting the good stuff in Australia, and nowadays, unless you have the good stuff, it doesn't matter how good of a rider you are. If you're not getting the right tires and the right parts, you're just wasting your time. I figured Coronas is a top team, with support from Suzuki, and enough cash to get the right stuff. I've worked with Dunlop for a long time and they told me they're 100% behind the team, so that made me feel good about the whole thing. I figured I'd come over here and give it a try, mate. It's been good so far, I've been pretty fast in testing, and I'm just happy about everything, really.
Liam: So, you've ridden in World Supersport this year on a Yamaha, and now you're riding a Suzuki GSXR 1000 for the Coronas team. Tell me a little about the transition.
AG: I've been real fortunate this year. I've ridden the best 600, the Yamaha, and the Suzuki's are just awesome bikes. I rode one in '03 in the Suzuka eight hour race, and it did everything nice. The power was smooth and it handled good. The '06 is the same, just more refined. When you're riding it, it just seems to be real narrow and quite comfortable. At the moment, I would say it's the best Superbike around.
Liam: You've had experience on just about every kind of roadracing bike, from twins, to inline screamers, to GP bikes. Some riders have told me that riding japanese bikes is like being right handed, and that riding anything else is like being left handed. You've been successful at both - What's it been like riding such a variety of machinery?
AG: I'd say it's 90% mental. When you're racing, you just mentally push yourself through the race. It's important not to distance yourself from the bike. Maybe that's what happenned to me a little in '03, on the Austin Ducati. When you distance yourself from the bike, when you tell yourself it's never going to be quick enough, or handle right, or that the guys can get it set-up half decent, it's easy to get yourself in trouble. It's easy to psyche yourself out of the game. That's why it's all mental, this game.
Liam: What's your life like living in Spain now?
AG: At the moment, living in Madrid it's a bit cold, and not many people speak English, so it's more frustrating than anything, I guess. I live by the big Bull Ring, and I'm not overly thrilled about living by myself out here in Spain. It's not a whole lot of fun, but it's not bad, either. I'm close enough with the team that we see each other a couple times a week, and we go dirt bike riding on the weekends. Nah, I'm coping with it, mate, and I'm just sorta glad to be back on the scene a bit.
Liam: Are you picking up any Spanish? What's it like trying to communicate with your team?
AG: It's weird, like when I first came here, none of them spoke any English, you know, but since I've been here it's like now nearly most of them speak English! It's like, they don't really speak that good English, but it's good enough that I can understand what thery're talking about, and I can sorta just say enough to them and they sorta know what I'm saying. We kinda got a bit of a cool thing going, you know? We don't really have to say too much. It's just a weird thing, but it's good [chuckling].
Liam: How does the team compare to anyone that you've worked with before in the AMA or on the World Scene?
AG: There's a lot of them, I mean, an unbelievable amount of people! There's about thirty people or more. This team is way bigger than any team I've been with before ‚Äì GP, anything! There's just people everywhere, helping, doin stuff. You know, there's one of fifteen guys who want to clean my visor every time I come in! I'm loving it, it's good, mate.
Liam: I notice the Spanish press has been really excited about you coming to compete in their National Championship. How do you feel about being here?
AG: Well, I'm on the way back up again. I've had three chances to be in World competition again, and I've finally got my act back together, and this year my results have been really good ‚Äì everything is going really good.
Liam: What do you think your chances are in the Spanish Nationals?
AG: I think I've got a really good chance to win. I've only tested at two places, Albacete, and this place, Valencia, and I only had a standard streetbike engine, but straightaway, to be honest, I'm pretty sure I was the quickest out of everybody who was there, out of the Formula Extreme guys. It's going to be tough. There's a lot of guys who are fast, and it's going to be tough. I'm just going into it with an open mind. I've been training hard, putting a lot of effort into it, and I'm just going to do the best I can. My goal is to not try and win every race, but to always finish up towards the front because I've noticed that most people who win championships do that.
Liam: Speaking from experience, I know that Spain is a very Party friendly place. Do you feel it's dangerous for you living here with your past problems with Drugs and Alcohol?
AG: I do have problems, everybody knows that, I've made no secret of it. I've always been honest about how I am as a person. When I mess up, I say I messed up. I'm not the sort of person who blames other people for my mistakes, and I can only say that I've come a long way in a short period and I'm just trying to keep on track. Spain is a party place, but I've stayed away from it a lot. When I got the sack from Erion for the DUI, I went back to Australia and I just partied pretty hard for about 6 to 8 months. I hated the world, hated everybody, and I hated myself the most. It just got to the point one day, I just kinda thought about it and I realized that I was just smashing myself up. I realized that I gotta put everything into racing and try and succeed. It's a constant battle, and at the end of the day, I am only human, with normal problems just like anybody else.
Liam: What are your goals now?
AG: I want to be World Champion. I've proved that I'm quick enough on a given day to be a World Champion, but I haven't proved it for a whole season. I'm not in it because I want to finish and be a hero, I just want to finish a season, get on an airplane to go home, and be satisfied.
Liam: So satisfation is . . . .
AG: Being World Champion! Nah, satisfied is knowing you did everything you could for a whole season. That's why I'm putting in a lot of effort. I don't want to cheat myself. I'm sick of getting on that airplance and thinking to myself, ‚ÄúWhat the hell have I done‚Äù.
Liam: The most important lesson you've learned to be a successful racer anywhere in the world would be?
AG: Don't do Drugs!