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Rider could move closer to realising racing dream

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

NEW RELATIONSHIP: Yeovil racer Martin Jessopp sits on the grid at Moscow's Raceway with crew chief Alec Tague, left, and technician Greg Smith last month. The Rapid Riders Performance Technical Racing Honda team travel to Germany's Nurburgring this week.

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YEOVIL racer Martin Jessopp could this weekend move a step closer to realising his dream of sealing a World Superbikes ride.

The 26-year-old is currently plying his trade in the World Supersport series for the Rapid Riders Performance Technical team, but has endured a tough first year on the global stage.

Injury, crashes and struggling to adapt to his 600cc Honda have hampered Jessopp and he takes to the Nurburgring in Germany with just one point from ten of 13 races.

Having swapped a 1000cc Ducati and British Superbikes for the World Supersport series in the winter, Jessopp is keen to finalise plans for his future and has made no attempt to hide his desire to step up a level while returning to his favoured bigger bike.

His most recent outings on a Superbike saw him finish second in last year's Macau GP and set a course record of 208MPH at May's North West 200 in Ireland.

Having improved times in Russia last month, Jessopp wants to end the World Supersport series in flying fashion but also has one eye on next year.

Tomorrow the father-of-one will join PTR boss Simon Buckmaster in a meeting with a key figure in World Superbikes.

Jessopp said: "We have got a meeting with the main man with World Superbikes on Friday to see if there is anything he can put on the table for us.

"Obviously they are very keen for people to move up into the World Superbikes Championship and to make it worthwhile for people, so we will have a meeting on Friday and see where he is at and see what he wants us to do.

"It's that time of year now where everyone is starting to ask questions and see what everyone is up to. By the end of the last race of this year you need to know what you are doing so you can crack on and get things sorted.

"Hopefully we will be one step closer by the end of the weekend."

Jessopp said he was ready to grab a chance in World Superbikes with "both hands" and said his and PTR's respective allegiances with Ducati and Honda would be a hurdle they could clear.

"In production racing that is the pinnacle of the motorsport world," said Jessopp.

"Moto GP is obviously a bit different and is prototype racing, but World Superbikes involves the best Superbikes riders in the world and that is where everyone wants to be. If there is a chance that we can be there then I will be grabbing it with both hands.

"But the PTR guys and boss Simon Buckmaster have slightly different interests to us. He has a very strong Honda connection and one he will probably want to carry on, whilst we have a very strong Ducati connection. But it is early days at the minute and hopefully tomorrow we will be a bit closer."

Crew chief Alec Tague joined forces with Jessopp at the Moscow Raceway and despite his 19th-placed finish, the pair returned home confident of making further progress in Germany this week.

Jessopp said his and Tague's focus was now on small changes to the bike to shave fractions of a second off race times.

"It was the start of the relationship and it went really well in Russia," he said. "Alec will come to the Nurburgring with some fresh ideas and we already have some ourselves from the debrief about where we want to go with the bike to help when the bike is full of fuel for the race.

"We are all looking forward to getting there, getting around the track and moving forward. All of the mechanics work slightly differently with slightly different ideas so it is about trying to get the best out of them

"The bike has been around for a long time so it is right at the end of its life span. This is the fastest this bike will go around the track and it is about looking for tiny bits to get the bike going better.

"At the last meeting we changed the ride height by a millimetre which sounds nothing – and is nothing, really – but when you are riding at this level you notice half a millimetre and a millimetre change."

With the Nurburgring steeped in history and a popular venue for car racing, Jessopp said it was unlikely he would keep to two wheels at the meeting that starts with practice tomorrow and culminates in Sunday's race.

He said: "With the big old road circuit there I will definitely be trying a lap or two in a hire car. I want to see if I can get out and have a look at the whole of the Nurburgring and with the history of the place it is definitely not one of the new, boring tracks that they build. It is one of the iconic ones.

"It is only 500-or-so-miles as well so it is nothing like the Spanish or Italian meetings we have driven to."

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