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SBK, Canepa: Suzuka? I think about it every day

The Italian rider chases the Endurance title: "We have nothing to lose, Yamaha Factory is the favourite but we can aim for the podium" 

SBK: Canepa: Suzuka? I think about it every day

The day of reckoning is almost here. On Sunday 30 July, the final act of the World Endurance will play out at Suzuka. Italian hopes lie with Niccolò Canepa who, on board the Yamaha, dreams of adding his name to the history books. Despite three consecutive wins, team GMT 94 is just one point behind leaders Suzuki SERT. Let battle commence.

Niccolò, we're almost there.

It's true, I leave for Suzuka today and the expectation grows each day. It's the decisive round, there will be various Superbike riders there too like Bradl and Lowes, but also Miller from MotoGP so the level is very high. Not forgetting the local riders, who wait all year for this race”.

You have won three in a row, but are still not leading the championship.

“Let's say that it is quite irritating, seeing as the series involves so few rounds and so as soon as you make a mistake it's almost impossible to come back from it. we're keeping calm and are keen to start, aware that we have nothing to lose”.

How is the build up to this race?

I think about it every day, this is a big chance and we want to exploit that and win it. The team is close-knit, we believe that we can do it”.

You were a little off the pace in testing. Is that telling?

“Many teams race with the Bridgestones at Suzuka, a very competitive tyre that thus increases our rivals' level of performance. We use the Dunlops, as the chemical composition of the Bridgestone tyre is not even permitted in our races in Europe. This doesn't mean that we will struggle all weekend though, also because we worked to prepare for the race during the tests and know that we will be quick in terms of pace”.

How much of a challenge will it be to fight with Yamaha and Honda?

“The main problem comes down to the regulation, or rather that there is no single ECU to ensure greater balance. This is a pity, as the series loses credibility once it reaches Suzuka and teams like Yamaha Factory prove unbeatable”.

Where do you see yourself in the race?

I'm convinced that, in terms of pace, Lowes, Nakasuga and van der Mark have something extra, but we can be top three. We'll suffer in qualifying like last year I'm sure but it's already calculated for”.

Is it Suzuki that is losing the championship or GMT94 that is growing?

“Both. Delhalle's death weighed heavily on SERT, but at the same time we have been able to find great harmony as a team, as demonstrated by the three recent wins”.

Is this a once in a lifetime opportunity?

“No, I've already had many opportunities. This is a great opportunity though, that no-one wants to pass up”.

De Rosa is also taking part. He's said that if you need a hand, you can fix a price.

“We can agree on that come Saturday (he smiles). Joking aside, I know Raffaele and consider him very fast. I'm sure he can run a great race”.

What about Miller?

“I had chance to talk to him last week and he's a very smart rider. He knows when to risk and when to settle. I'm sure that Honda will focus on race preparation, as he wants to reach the podium”.

What would you give up for this championship?

Nothing, we've worked hard all season, many tests, now we just have to race".   

Translated by Heather Watson

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