Ruben Xaus, the wild Spaniard of WSB, has turned his back on Ducati and signed with BMW. He knows now what it takes to win a race, he says...
HOW DIFFERENT IS PULLING ON A BLUE AND WHITE SHIRT RATHER THAN A RED ONE WHEN YOU GO TO WORK?
Moving to BMW from Ducati has been a big change, but a good one for me. Right now I have a totally different lifestyle to before. I’m married and I have a family, a little girl and another one coming in January. I’ve changed, I’m more relaxed and have a more family orientated mentality, which fits in with the German way of working. The Germans are more straight and I like this, I like their way of thinking.
AFTER SO MANY YEARS, WAS LEAVING THE DUCATI FAMILY A TOUGH DECISION?
I’ve been working with the Italians for many years, but who doesn’t want to work with a factory like BMW? Riding with a full factory team like BMW is like when you build a house and you have no problems with budget or who is building it. All the best ingredients go in. Riding for a smaller team is like having a smaller budget and you want to build the house of your dreams but you can’t.
NO MORE MAISONETTES FOR YOU, THEN. AND HOW ARE THINGS SHAPING UP SO FAR?
We have only tested the bikes once, but I know what I need from the bike to win. It’s not a single lap that makes a difference, it’s how you can ride a 25-lap race. You can be the fastest guy in qualifying, but not win the race. There is nothing particular that either Troy or myself have asked to change with the frame, it’s now about delivering the power and how we can develop the electronics. As a base I am really impressed with the BMW, and how the team works. At Valencia I needed the handlebar positions changing, so they took measurements and built me a new set of bars overnight using a lathe they had in the truck at the circuit.
ELECTRONICS SEEM TO BE PLAYING AN INCREASING ROLE IN RACING. WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THEM?
I think they play too much of a part. I am used to riding free of electronics, I am a freelance rider! When I was riding the Desmosedici I had the traction control turned off. I found it held me back, hopefully I can get used to it on the BMW. I am learning along with BMW. At the moment it is like when you go to eat a meal and you have fifteen forks. You only need one, so you try them and remove the ones you don’t like, eventually you find the one you do and you focus on it. We are testing many things, although cutlery is not one of them!
HOW DOES THE BMW’S ENGINE FEEL COMPARED TO THE OTHER BIKES YOU HAVE RACED?
The Desmosedici’s reactions are very similar to the S1000RR. The BMW has big power, I can’t tell you exactly the details but it is certainly comparable to the Desmo. Clearly there is more weight on the BMW, so knock off 10%, but it is really not that different. I haven’t ridden an inline four such as a Suzuki or Yamaha, you will have to ask Troy how they compare, but he was certainly very happy. We are at a good level.
WHY DO YOU THINK BMW CHOSE TROY AND YOURSELF AS TEAM-MATES?
We are both competitive riders, the talent is there, but also we bring more. We can’t tell BMW how to run a team, but clearly we can give them a lot of experience of the WSB paddock. They are strong at producing bikes and selling them, but not yet racing them. It is about the whole package, with our experience we can help them learn very quickly and complete this package.
DO YOU FEEL UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE TO WIN?
Of course they want to win, I cannot hide these pressures under my pillow. Everyone has seen me ride, I’m not a rider that relaxes, I’m always giving 100% and of course if the package is working it will be easier. I am always there for winning, but we have to be realistic. We are not coming from a bike that has raced the year before, it is a new bike, the only experience is what Troy and myself are bringing from different machines.
MOTOGP IS THE PINNACLE OF MOTORCYCLE RACING. BUT DO YOU THINK WSB IS NOW OVERTAKING THIS?
WSB is already the best championship, face to face with MotoGP. I think that next year it will continue to grow and be better with Aprilia and BMW joining. The only thing that is missing now is Valentino Rossi racing a superbike, if this happened I think the other championship is gone! In MotoGP there are only two classes, rich and poor, nothing else. If you are poor you can’t win a race, if you are rich you can win anything you want, or change tyre manufacturers in the middle of a season. In WSB you have a middle class as well, and most riders are in the middle class. You can win if you are in the middle, or at least battle with the leaders.
DO YOU STILL LOVE THE ARGY-BARGY OF RACING?
Yes, otherwise I would not be doing it! I promise you that. My lifestyle is perfect now. I have a family and am with a factory team, I have everything. I had a dream that I wanted a factory ride, and now I do, dreams come true. The next step of the dream is just a matter of time and how to manage the bike.
DO YOU JUST RIDE BIKES ON-TRACK, OR DO YOU RIDE ANY ROAD BIKES?
I have an old BMW R80GS from 1981. My dad has always loved BMWs and was a BMW dealer. He has 15 R80GSs and also an R90S, an R50 and an R23. A collection, almost a museum, at home. A few years ago I found my R80GS bike in Andorra and bought it for him, but I still ride it. I will try and get him a S1000RR for his collection, hopefully I can get it for free. But they’re a bit pricey, so you never know.
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