After two less than brilliant races at Laguna Seca, Gianluca Vizziello is already thinking about his next commitments. The 36-year old rider, competing with team Grillini SBK and the Kawasaki ZX10R, is a guy who loves what he does, always gives it his all and takes every event seriously, not an easy combination in today's tough world of racing.
Now back from the States, Gianluca tells us about his next adventures: “This year I'm really having fun, I'm jumping between one championship and another and I'm practically always riding, not just in SBK and World Endurance races but also here in Policoro, out with my own bikes”.
We bet you take it seriously even when riding at home, seeing how strong you are in each championship…
“I put up a good fight it's true. It's a pity about the two negative results at Laguna Seca, but sometimes the races go like that. But in Germany in September, we'll have a new engine for team Grillini's Kawasaki ZX10R and so I'll be able to get back into the points zone, or even better, because that's our real goal, also considering my team's talents”.
Definitely, but we're getting ahead of ourselves... first you're off to Japan for a rather tough race...
“Yes, I leave on Monday.... being able to race in the Suzuka 8 Hours is a new and really amazing experience for me, a real honour. I've never been there, I don't know the track, I've only seen some videos and know that it will be very difficult, because of thet track's spectacular characteristics. Also, the Japanese teams will be really aggressive - it will be the hardest race of the season”.
Will your Kawasaki with team Bolliger Endurance have special tyres for the occasion?
“To be honest, we'll go to Suzuka without having made any tests at the track, but I know that Pirelli wants to do well and I think they will bring material in line with what we use in the world championship, but perhaps something special for longer races. Anyway, it might rain too, who knows... if it does, I'll be comfortable”.
There will be a lot of strong teams and riders... who do you fear the most?
“I would say the Honda team with Hayden, Van Der Mark and local rider Takahashi, they'll be out to win; Yamaha will also do well, with Alex Lowes, Pol Espargarò who won last year; there'll also be some famous veterans there, and I'm really honoured to have chance to race against them as I was a fan of theirs growing up”.
The “veterans” are Noriyuki Haga and Akira Yanagawa, two riders who Gianluca admired as a youngster, watching them in TV. He's raced against Haga in the past in SBK, but has never shared the track with Yanagawa. They are specialists, but Vizziello doesn't seem worried: “The Bolliger Kawasaki team is of a very high level, my team-mates Michael Savary and Horst Saiger are fast, expert riders and I'm training to be ready for the race stages, running in the sun for 25-minute sessions”.
Which stage would you like to race?
“it depends. The start is done by the team's fastest rider, so we'll see. I'm not worried about the afternoon heat, where I live in Policoro it's nearly always hot and so I'm used to it. I don't have problems in the dark, because I also often ride at night. If you get a good result there, it's something special to have on your CV, but I can't make any predictions, aside from the fact that it will be a difficult but amazing race!”
So you have no fears going into the Suzuka 8 Hours?!
“Yes I have one... the plane trip is a neverending one, a lot more than 8 Hours!"