Claudio Corti is a 29-year-old rider from Como who raced in Moto2, MotoGP and SBK before embarking on the most exciting adventure of his entire interesting career: “I received a telephone call out of the blue directly from the USA. The team wanted me with them for the MotoAmerica Superstock championship and… I left!”
After all, Claudio already had an English nickname, so for “Shorts”, embarking on the adventure was also a revelation: “I have always liked America. I appreciate and admire the way they experience racing. I raced on tracks there that I had never seen before. My Aprilia RSV4 was competitive and I had a lot of fun. I also perfected my English and did well. I am one of only 4 Italians to have won in the United States - the first with an Aprilia.”
The 2005 Superstock 600 champion won several races in America, just missing the category title...
“Yes, I did well. I won a few races and the end result is very positive. The only bad thing about the entire season was the injury suffered at Barber, with broken ribs and a fractured ankle, I lost 75 points in 3 races. With those zeroes we finished third in the Superstock category, but you know, that's racing.”
Do you want to repeat the experience?
“Yes, I want to go back and race there. But in Superbike.”
What is your plan?
“I have a plan of attack. I am sorting a few things and Aprilia is involved in this project, but it is not easy to get everything to gel. You have to consider that I live in Italy, Aprilia is based here, the team is in Houston, Texas and there is a time difference between us, besides the distance and a huge ocean. But we are trying. A new warehouse was purchased in Oklahoma and the bike is ready.”
Are you ready?
“Yes, I am chomping at the bit. Also because there none of the teams ever stop. The teams go out to California and continue without a break. Now I am relaxing and enjoying my holidays, but if the call were to come for 8 January, I would be there on the track.”
What is the atmosphere like in MotoAmerica?
“The atmosphere is the part that I liked the most: whether I win, or Hayes, Elias or Beaubier win, they (the fans) could not care less. They want to see the show. For the Americans, going to the races is like a family party. They set up on the hills, they relax and they start to grill anything and everything on those enormous barbecues. There are no fans in the grandstands at American races. I fell in love with that championship.”
Every American sport is so different from what we see in Europe. Why do you think that is?
“I think it is a question of mentality, not just the American mentality. I'll give you an example: in the late '80s in England they cracked down in order to contain, actually to remove, hooligans from the stadiums. And they succeeded. In the USA they are already like that naturally, respectful and sportsmanlike. They did not have to take action. In Italy, basketball, for example, is still ‘pure’. Bikes? Now our sector is so popular that it inevitably attracts a bit of everything. And that really disappoints me.”
What is the most difficult thing you found in MotoAmerica?
“The tracks, without a doubt.”
What does it take in technical terms to be fast on those tracks?
“Balls. The track layouts are fantastic. There are sweeping, uphill, downhill and negative camber corners. The average speeds are impressive: at Road America or on the Virginia Raceway, for example, you race between walls, the asphalt is different and the safety conditions are lacking. Laguna Seca is just as treacherous. The only adequate circuit is Austin where, not by chance, MotoGP also races.”
It's a shame though… how could that be improved?
“There is no lack of room to move the walls or eliminate them. The Wayne Rainey foundation is doing a great job and he himself is pushing to improve things. The first step is the equalization of the MotoAmerica technical regulations with the World SBK rules, except for the reversed starting grid which, in my opinion, is just a bunch of bull. A lot of people in the USA believe in it and that championship is growing exponentially.”
So credit goes to Rainey?
“Yes, because he is the one sticking his neck out.”
What is the value of the American riders?
“Beaubier, the reigning Superbike champion, is good, but in the Donington race he was unable to show that, partly because his team Graves R1 was higher performance than the Pata bike. The difference between MotoAmerica and World Superbike is that in the former there are a few fast riders, whereas in SBK everybody is really fast and he was not expecting that. Anyway, he refused to come to Europe.”
Well, at home he wins and… earns a lot…
“A whole lot. More than people think. But he is not the only one that signs for millions. Several factory riders have that status. The trend is fuelled by the manufacturers and the American bike importers. That is where the money comes from. Yamaha USA has an 8 million Dollar budget just for MotoAmerica, just imagine…”
So what is the difference between SBK and MotoAmerica?
“The quality/price ratio: in the USA you do half the races and earn a lot. In SBK, you rush from one end of the world to the other and often get nothing for your trouble.”