James Toseland's a man on a mission

JAMES Toseland – the man seems to have it all. A double World Superbike Champion, model looks, talented piano player/singer and adored worldwide by thousands of fans.

Leandra Graves caught up with him ahead of a charity gig at a school in Peterborough with his beloved band Crash.

His 2009 campaign in the MotoGP series with Tech 3 Yamaha didn't exactly go according to plan after a promising debut year in 2008.

He is now be returning to the World Superbike Championship where he has been so successful and dominant in the past and he will be looking to rekindle that winning feeling.

How was he feeling about his departure from MotoGP after two years in the series?

'No matter what went on last year and the results, I will miss my team. They were so unbelievably behind me and to see them in tears after the last race in Valencia was such an emotional experience for me. They are all really good lads.'

With the World Superbike series starting in late February, James is already into testing and looking forward to being on a bike which is a proven winner.

'I'm really upbeat about that. I have been in the gym every day since the season finished, concentrating on what is going to be quite an adjustment back to riding a superbike again.'

He is already being widely tipped to win this season's World Superbike Championship but in order to claim a third title he will first have to rebuild his confidence and pick up regular wins and podium finishes.

'Even in MotoGP, I always went out to win, that's how I am programmed to be, and I don't know where I get it from. There's nobody out there that I believe can do better on a bike than I can and I think that any professional sportsman needs to have that self belief.

'Luckily, I have always retained those thoughts, even during the tough times. It makes me believe even harder in myself so I have got to keep pushing.'

Who does James see as his biggest competition for the 2010 title?

'I think a lot of the Brits, which is really good for the sport and the country. My Sterilgarda Yamaha team-mate Cal Crutchlow, the World Supersport Champion, is one to watch along with Jonathan Rea who has now had a year in the series.

'I know the Ten Kate Honda will be strong of course, as I have won on it myself. Noriyuki Haga and Max Biaggi have had good years too but I think it will be close with five or six riders in with a chance of the podium.'

The men stealing all the headlines in MotoGP are Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, so what are Toseland's thoughts on them as people and riders?

'On TV, Lorenzo annoys me like hell as he comes across really arrogant and cocky, but he's a lovely kid. That's why he has angel/devil on him as I can't stand the devil side of him.

'I dislike arrogance and cockiness in people and he's got that coming out of ears when he's got his helmet on, but once the helmet is off, he's quite a shy, reserved kid and a nice bloke.

'Rossi is a comical, fun character, as portrayed on TV - it's not an act.

'Obviously, he does put a show on for the cameras but at the end of the day we are all showmen and I think MotoGP has really benefited from having a character like Valentino. The nice thing is when he comes off the track he's really similar and a nice, genuine, bubbly guy.

'His record speaks for itself, a nine-time world champion; he's one of the best riders of all time.'

Undoubtedly one of the sports' success stories, James Toseland admits that it is now very difficult for young riders to get into professional motorcycle racing.

'To ride for a top team you need to be able to bring money with you. I was fortunate that I didn't have to do that when I started, it's very tough for kids now because I was from a very ordinary background with little money. I don't think I could do it now.

'However, it's like anything, if you find something you enjoy and you're good at, there's no reason why you can't make a career out of it.'

Racing at tracks all over the world at 200mph is one life for James; singing and playing the piano, performing on stage with his band is another. Which gives him the biggest adrenalin buzz?

'My love and passion is motorcycling, I still enjoy riding a bike which is the main thing for me. That's why I do the job.

'What is nice, after a couple of tough years, is to see my loyal fans come along to the gigs. They say, no matter what you are doing and where you are racing we'll support you. That means a hell of lot to me.'

Racing careers don't last forever so could a future in music be an option when he eventually hangs up his leathers?

'Definitely, I have written a few songs and I am going to keep on writing behind the scenes. One day I would love to bring out an album.

'The one thing with motorcycling is that you do have a large fan base and that would help sales with a potential album.

'That said, I hope that I will be able to retire from racing and not do anything. I would just like to sing and play the piano for my own satisfaction and enjoyment. Producing and selling an album would be another personal achievement.'

A fan of X-Factor he admits he was disappointed when Lucie was voted out of the most recent series.

'I quite fancied her. She was quite cute. I think I was more disappointed about that then anything else,' he laughed.

James's favourite TV show is I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, so would he ever consider an appearance on the show?

'I have been asked to do it, but I don't have the time. It lasts two or three months and there is no way that I could spend that much time away from my racing commitments.

'I hate creepy crawlies and spiders and when my mum saw the email come through about the offer of me going on the show she said there was no way I could do that: 'You can't even pick a spider up,' she said.

'Actually she's right. I think I could shove the things down my throat to eat, but I doubt I could handle any claustrophobic circumstances or creepy crawlies. It would be a massive challenge for me.'

What ambitions does James have in the sport and does he have any desire to return to MotoGP again one day, despite the turbulent season he had in 2009?

'I never say never. The rules could change in the next couple of years with regards to engines, so if I was offered a chance on the right bike I would definitely consider it.

'It's a bit like F1 in that sense about being in the right place at the right time and if I get offered a chance in the near future, I will take it.

'Right now I'm looking forward to the new season on a bike that I know I can win on. It's all down to me again and I like that.'



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