James Toseland’s return to the WorldSBK paddock as team manager came as something of a surprise and was a new challenge that he needed after his Triumph and BT Sport gigs.
The two-time champion got a call from former Moto3 contender Danny Webb to help put together a WorldSSP deal and the job expanded from there.
“Danny phoned me and said, ‘Would you come over to the Czech Republic and just negotiate a deal?” Toseland told bikesportnews.com, who was at the Portimao test to look after International Road Racing Champion Webb’s interests for his new Wepol WorldSSP team.
“Danny said, ‘I have the possibility of doing WorldSSP next year and I just need a bit of help doing that’. I have known him for a long time so I just jumped on a plane with him, no problem at all.
“I had a meeting with the owner and that was straightforward enough, he is a really nice guy, generous guy and it was the easiest negotiation I have ever done in my life. After we had a few drinks and a meal in he evening he was setting up this new team with Danny and said to me, ‘Would you manage the team for us?’ I said I had no experience in managing a team, but I had experience of how a team should run, because I had been working with some very good people.
“I have experience of the structure of stuff but I said I would have to really learn the ropes to do the logistics for a team. So I said as long as he had someone to book the flights and the hotels and so on, because that is a full-time job, I will have a think about it.”
After his period of reflection, Toseland said yes, and is now concentrating on that rather than his other post racing work. “I had the Triumph ambassador deal, the BT sport job, so I would be losing a lot of stuff and I said he would have to replace that, obviously. Everything he said he was like, yes, yes, yes so it was a real serious offer then.
“I went home and thought that the Triumph deal was great but did not get me involved in too much. BT Sport I enjoyed but I always felt uncomfortable about commenting on other people, but you are the other side of the fence then. I never felt that comfortable in that role although I did enjoy the television work, the actual job of it, but I felt like I needed to be back in the garage to help create. To win something again.
I missed being competitive. I had to go cold turkey in the retirement of my career with this injury, unfortunately, and I had to leave the paddock, leave racing. And kind of not think about it and not be there, to work on recovering from not racing again, which has been difficult for me. But it has been nine years and every nine or ten years of cycle in life you have a bit of a reset, don’t you.
“I felt like I have reset and I could go back in the paddock now and see all my old school mates and help Danny this time, help someone and pass on the experience I do have to help someone succeed. I hope that will give me some fulfilment. That is the reason.”
The team’s machines are going to be Yamaha R6s, the bike to be on at present, put together by Mandy Kainz and the experienced YART squad.
“The bike is YART racing, basically,” said Toseland. “We are getting the whole production out of YART. They will build the bikes, look after the bikes and we have got three YART engineers that have come with us. I know Jerome, Christian and Silvio from many years ago. They have done MotoGP and WorldSBK for years and years. We have got a really good little team.
“Silvio used to be Chili and Pirovano’s engineer. Jerome used to be in Pramac, with Scott Redding in MotoGP. Christian is a young lad I have not really worked with him before but he is the electronics guy. We have got a really good little team and the R6, which at the minute looks like the one you need in WorldSSP.
“You cannot do too much to it. The first two tests I wanted to just keep Danny away from everything at first, build up his experience on short tracks because he has been doing Endurance racing and roads. I can he is riding that way. It was all 90% – can’t crash because I might hit a wall, kind of vibe.
“We built up and up, built his confidence up and the way I used to do stuff was just vibing off little things, so I think I have really helped him already. He has come on leaps and bounds. I think he could surprise a few people.”