The 2020 season of Supersport World Championship sees the return in the series of Christoffer Bergman, 30-year-old rider with plenty of experience in international racing.
Born in 1989, Bergman raced in WorldSSP already in 2016 and 2017, as he took part in a number of rounds with CIA Landlord Insurance Honda (former name of Dynavolt Honda Team) and scored some valuable top-10 finishes. Meanwhile, in 2017, the rider from Säffle debuted in FIM Endurance World Championship by joining Moto Ain team and two years later, he was signed by Wójcik Racing Team. The relationship between the rider and the Polish squad became stronger and stronger and brought as results more remarkable finishes in FIM EWC (including a 2nd place at 2019 Bol d’Or) and the 2019 European Superstock 1000 title inside Alpe Adria Road Race Championship. So, for 2020, they agreed to participate in World Supersport series on a Yamaha R6, plus something more…
So far, the international career of Christoffer Bergman has had many high-level stages: Superstock 1000 FIM Cup (2012, 2013 and 2015), CEV Moto2 (2014), World Supersport and FIM EWC, plus a job as test rider for Öhlins. The Swede talked about all of this to Palmen in Motorradsport, through an interview to which the guys from MemasGP contributed too.
First of all, Christoffer, how do you evaluate the first round of the season in Phillip Island?
Well, we struggled a lot in Phillip Island, resulting in frustration and loss of track time. We had to solve issues and so we couldn’t actually work on the bike. Then, we were unlucky in the race, because one of the radiator hose clamps broke and the hose popped off spraying water on the rear tire (causing a crash he fortunately escaped with no injury, ed). We did OK considering all this (he was fighting for a point finish, ed) and we could see that we have much more potential both from me and the bike.
You had never ridden at Phillip Island before this year. What do you think about the circuit?
It was the first time for me on the track. I knew it was a fast one from videos and what others told me, but in the end it’s even faster than I had imagined, which is nice. Normally fast tracks suit me well, but firstly I need more time on the bike to get back the feeling on the front, which is the biggest difference between 600cc and 1000cc bikes in my opinion.
How does it feel to be back in World Supersport and in the WorldSBK paddock?
It’s very nice to be back in this paddock, as I had missed it in the past couple of years. I know many people that I’ve got to see again. It is on a different level when you come here, compared to other championships, but all the teams need some time to adjust to it. Me and the team want the same thing, so I am sure we can be fighting higher up in a few races.
Can you tell about your collaboration with Wójcik Racing Team, since when it started?
The team contacted me late in 2018 for EWC but at that time I had other plans for the 2019 season. In the end I couldn’t find a good way to go through with my plans, so we again got in contact just before 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans, but I did the first race for them in European Superstock 1000 Cup at SlovakiaRing.
Is the crew working with you in WorldSSP the same as the one in EWC?
Yes, some of the crew members are the same.
Let’s talk about your time in Endurance World Championship. Which are your best memories so far?
Endurance is a completely different type of racing compared to sprint races…You have to share the bike with two other riders, the extra liters in the tank make quite a different feeling and the bikes have to be setup differently for both suspension and riding position, but mostly it’s not a big drama. When I did the Endurance Superstock Championship with French team Moto Ain, we had some nice races finishing on the podium and I was 3rd in the championship. Then, obviously, our 2nd place in Bol d’Or with Wójcik was a nice feeling.
Are you going to race in FIM EWC this year, when the races don’t collide with World Supersport?
Yes, the plan we have is that I will do all the EWC races I can this year.
How does the way you approach races change, from Endurance to SSP?
Like said earlier, it is a different way of racing. When I go from EWC to sprint racing like WSS, first I have to come back to a more aggressive riding and to be able to race at 100%, while in Endurance you might go at 85-90% most of the time. Moreover, you have much less time on the track during the WSS weekend, compared to the EWC week, so you really have to be on it and go out on track at 100% from the start.
Now let’s look back to your previous experiences. How do you evaluate the three seasons you spent in Superstock 1000 FIM Cup?
I had some good seasons there, but again most of the times we did not have the possibility and time to prepare as the top teams. Also for me, as a rider, it wasn’t easy to go back and forth between racing and working and stay focused on both. In any case, we surely had some good moments (including a 2nd place scored in 2012 with BWG Racing Kawasaki, ed).
And what do you think about the fact STK1000 was removed from WorldSBK at the end of 2018?
I understand the decision to remove the class from the championship, but I do not agree. It was a really good class for many reasons, including the fact that costs were reasonable. Instead, now I know many riders who struggle to decide where to race and what championship is the best for their future.
During your career you also competed in Moto2 on a Bimota, back in 2014. How was the experience?
The idea behind racing with Bimota was good and it was supposed to be a season of development. We did some work on the bike, but did not receive all the things we had requested. Furthermore, maybe it’ wasn’t the best idea to make the development on different tires, so each time we went testing my crew chief and I arranged for the official tyre (supplied by Michelin, ed); we had a really good pace and the bike was working pretty well. From this, we were given a wildcard by IRTA to race in Moto2 World Championship, but before we were able to go, the project was stopped for both Bimota and Alstare Racing Team in WorldSBK and for us (because the factory couldn’t produce the minimum amount of Bimota BB3 machines to stay in World Superbike, ed).
Can you know talk about your collaboration with Öhlins?
I have now been working with Öhlins since 2012, so soon 8 years, and I really enjoy it. I mostly do tests and evaluations for MotoGP and also Moto2 and SBK for the racing department. Then, if there is time, I do some work for the aftermarket department and for the OEM. It’s a good way to get understanding and feeling of suspension, but also to spend more time riding bikes.
How did your passion for motorcycle racing start?
Well, to be honest I never had any passion for road racing, other than I watched the GP500 / MotoGP races with my father on weekends. I was totally into motocross from when I was 5 years old, then I had a chance to test a bike in 2006 and I wasn’t too bad after the first day. However, I continued with motocross until 2008. Then, in 2009 I did my first season in Swedish STK600 Championship and I quickly discovered I had much more potential to reach a higher level racing on asphalt.
When you started racing, did you expect to reach the high levels where you are now?
The goal has always been to reach the top, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, but at the same time I have to enjoy what I am doing.
Moto2, Supersport, Superstock 1000, EWC-spec bikes…Which class do you prefer and why?
Well that’s an easy answer: Moto2. I have had the chance to test a few different Moto2 bikes and that seems to be the class that suits me best and also the most fun bike to ride. But, anyway, I enjoy all type of bikes.
In conclusion, what’s your goal for 2020 World Supersport season?
The goal for this season is to be in the top 10 and to be able to fight with the top 5 riders/teams at the end of the season. We need to gain a lot of information and as much experience as we can, as our team is new in WSS and I do not have a lot of experience in the class either. Hopefully, from next race we can improve many things that we discovered at Round 1.
Palmen in Motorradsport is grateful to Christoffer Bergman for his kindness and wishes him the best for 2020 season, hoping that the situation will soon return to normality after the Coronavirus outbreak.