French rider Thomas Chareyre, 2010 World Champion and several times winner of the Supermoto of Nations, thinks he still has something to prove! He is 20 points ahead in the standings, heading to the finale on 22-23 September at Carole race track, just North of Paris. In an interview he granted to 17pouces.net, Thomas gives his account of the 2012 season so far – after his injury last October, he talks about his projects, and about his relationship to his brother Adrien.
Hi Thomas ! Can you give us your impressions on the 2012 season – how has it been for you so far?
Hi ! Very good indeed so far. I didn’t imagine I would be at that level with the kind of winter I had – being injured, not touching a bike for over 4 months, I thought to myself that the beginning of the season would be hard; I didn’t expect to win, I thought that being on the podium would be great, and that little by little, I could come back and fight for the championship. It turns out I was fairly lucky and I managed to stay on the bike – I was so scared of crashing, I couldn’t ride the way I was used to. And actually it paid off.
It’s an excellent result in these conditions – how do you explain it?
This year with TM we really have the best bike of the lot. Early last season, the Aprilia was a bit below par, but then they tweaked it and clearly, at the end of the season it was above the lot. This year, conditions are different. Our bike is just right; as Mauno Hermunen is also riding a TM bike, TM feel they have to do something extra for me – as for an official team. So far I haven’t got anything new, but we’re testing a new engine on the Italian Championship; if it works as expected, I can use it for the last GP [at Carole race track, France, 22-23 September], or next year.
Have you regained self-confidence now?
At first it was really hard mentally, during races – and especially for starts I was in « panic mode »; then from the mid-season I realized it was better – I started to win not only when Mauno Hermunen had a problem! In Croatia, everybody said he hurt himself, but it was really a minor crash – he played it up more than anything else. In the following week he rode in MX and raced a pit bike, he really wasn’t injured that badly (laughs).
How do you see the finale? Are you confident for the title?
I haven’t raced at Carole for a long time – since the French Championship was held there about 10 years ago. I know the track hasn’t changed a lot – they shortened the straights and modified the offroad part a bit. Nobody will ride there beforehand, so it’s not a problem. Confident for the title… You never know what can happen! I was confident last year, and there you go, it didn’t end well. This year I have a 20-point lead in the standings, I can afford to finish 3rd or 4th in two races I think, so apart from a mechanical problem, I have some leeway.
You have a very impressive track record, and even if a second world title is important, what makes you tick?
Actually I already wanted this second title last year – I wanted to prove to everyone that my first title was deserved. Looking at how it went, I really want the world title even more this year, I want to prove I deserve it!
What are your projects for next year?
It’s done, I have signed a new contract with TM – in the official team, like this year. We’ve already started working on this new engine that we’re testing on the Italian Championship. For next year we have the same program: world championship and Italian championship, with maybe a few high-profile races like Mettet or Tours [indoor opening of the French Supermoto season]. I couldn’t go to Tours this season because of my injury.
Do you follow the French Championship?
Yes, Sylvain [Bidart] and I talk regularly on the phone – and anyway after each of our races. I also got to watch the races at l’Alpe d’Huez in August. I think the French Championship has lost a lot in comparison to a few years ago, it’s a shame. It would be better if the teams that take part also did the world championship. In terms of speed, I think it’s a bit below the Italian Championship.
Last year you had a crash with your brother Adrien during the finale in Cahors, and you lost the world title as a result. Things haven’t been easy with him since, is it better now?
No, no… Let’s say he took me for a fool. I have tried to set things right last winter, but he doesn’t understand my point of view. I have tried to get past this, by taking a step back, but it’s still not easy…
A final word?
I think that supermoto in general is declining. I would love to do more in this discipline, but even if, at 25 years old, it’s a bit late to start something else, I may take a look at other possibilities. But I really do hope that things are going to improve in Supermoto, and that I can keep racing !