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Anthony Gobert Interview

Anthony Gobert is considered by many (including his arch rival in the AMA Superbike series, Mat Mladin) to be the most naturally talented roadracer in the world. Gobert is currently tied with Ben Bostrom for second place in the AMA Superbike series.

Motorcycle Daily’s Alex Edge had a chance to talk with Anthony Gobert outside the Speedway Bistro in Newport Beach, California on July 1, 1999. Gobert was there with his dad and his younger brother Alex (an Aprillia RS250 Cup Challenge racer at only 15 years old). Gobert seemed relaxed and focused on winning the July 11 round of the World Superbike series at Laguna Seca in California.

MD: At Laguna Seca, you’re going to be racing against Fogarty and Corser on the factory Ducatis. Do you think your bike is as fast as the factory bikes?

AG: Yeah. We’re going to get some new parts, I think, for that one. So our bike will definitely be the same as theirs, and I think we will have a bit of an advantage there as well because we’ve already raced there and already tested there earlier. It’ll definitely be the same machinery, so it’s just left up to me.

MD: Who do you think are going to be the top competitors at Laguna Seca?

AG: Probably Fogarty because he’s got a lot of confidence at the moment because he’s won a lot of races. Corser goes good there. Haga goes good. Edwards is, you know, you never know about him. They’re probably going to be the main ones.

MD: A few of the riders, including Fogarty, have said that they think Laguna Seca is a dangerous track. Why do you think that they feel that way?

AG: Mainly, I mean, it is a little bit [dangerous] because there are some concrete walls and stuff [going] out to the corkscrew, but other than that I think it’s pretty safe. You know as long as they put some air fence in some corners then I think it’s a good track.

MD: What aspects of your motocross skills do you think have helped you in roadracing? [Ed. Note – Gobert is a talented, fast motocross rider.]

AG: Mainly just sliding the rear end of the bike. You know, you sort of need to. In roadracing you tend to get stuck in a bit of a groove. I tend to get out on the motocross bike a lot and learn to slide the front and the rear of the machine so it’s no big deal on the [roadracing] tire. I think motocross definitely helps.

MD: Do you usually use the throttle to help you steer in corners?

AG: Yeah, normally I try to get a lot of corner speed and then get on the gas hard and sort of slide the rear out of it to finish off the corner. I find that that helps me a lot, so I steer the bike a lot with the rear end.

MD: Ben [Bostrom] has told me that he likes racing on the hot, slippery tracks. Do you have more fun sliding it around like that than on the grippy, high-speed courses?

AG: Yeah, to be honest, I like Laguna Seca when it’s a little bit cooler. We get a lot of grip and I tend to prefer it like that, but if it’s hot and greasy, you know I do enjoy that as well because I like sliding the bike. But I prefer a little bit colder race track where you get more grip, because you can do quicker lap times.

MD: The GP bikes might be four strokes pretty soon [the FIM is considering a change from the two stroke format]. Will you be disappointed if you never get a chance to win a 500 GP title on a two stroke?

AG: Yeah, I only went roadracing to try and become 500 champion. I wanted to do it three times. Yeah, I’ll be very disappointed.

MD: Who have been your influences or heroes in racing?

AG: Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts a little bit. He [Roberts] was a little bit before my time, and I was also into dirt bikes at that stage. Mick Doohan a little bit as well. But mainly most of the guys who have dominated 500’s get a lot of my respect.

MD: Do you consider your rivalry with Mat Mladin friendly?

AG: Yeah, we’re friends. We’ve been doing a little bit of motocross riding together as well. So yeah, we’re definitely becoming closer friends over the last two years. I think the press blows it out of proportion a little bit so it makes it out like we’re enemies, but we’re not, we’re friends.

MD: Do you agree with Mat that the AMA doesn’t focus enough on rider safety?

AG: Yeah, they don’t seem to take much notice of rider safety, but that’s the way it is. We choose to race in the AMA championship so, you know, you just got to deal with the situation. It would be nice if we had a little bit more air fence around a race track. A lot of the courses have got concrete walls a little bit too close so, yeah, I think something needs to be done a little bit about safety, but most of the tracks are pretty good.

MD: Do you think that the championship and the racing would be more competitive if Mat were on a Ducati?

AG: Probably. I mean Ducati’s the best bike, and I think, you know, it probably would be a little bit more interesting, but Mat’s style suits a Suzuki and I don’t know if he’d be doing much better on a Ducati.