Italian version here.
In 1998, Estonia gave birth to a fast and talented rider named Hannes Soomer, who then showed great potential both in the European Junior Cup until 2016 and subsequently in the Supersport World Championship, where he also won the Europe Supersport Cup in 2017 and scored three podiums in 2020.
The last two seasons have instead been complicated for Soomer, who was unable to express himself in 2021 with the Yamaha of the Kallio Racing team (with which he did not repeat the results of the previous year) and in 2022 with the Triumph of the PTR team, due injuries and several other issues. The star from Tallinn was about to say “enough”, but his career finally experienced a turning tide with the move to IDM Superbike, as Soomer starts in the German championship on a Honda and his own Enos Enemat Motorsport Team.
A choice that is paying off: six podiums in twelve races, other results in the top 5 and, with only the grand finale at Hockenheim to go, fourth place in the championship standings just eight points behind third position (occupied by Patrick Hobelsberger, a former World Supersport contestant as well). Icing on the cake was that, in July, Soomer was able to make his World Superbike debut with the Petronas MIE Racing Honda Team, as he replaced injured Hafizh Syahrin. An experience that ended with 19th place in both Superpole Race and Race 2, but above all a great opportunity to compete against the strongest riders in the category.
Palmen in Motorradsport decided to interview Hannes Soomer to talk about his rebirth, that wildcard in WorldSBK and his past seasons.
Hannes, what do you first tell us about your season in the IDM?
After really difficult times in World Supersport, we decided to take a different path and do it on our own. I want to race, but I want to do it with people I know, know me and believe in me. We then decided to do the IDM Superbike and we have done very well so far. We made a few mistakes, but we often got on the podium and we were battling for the win several times. If I managed to do one round of the World Championship, it is thanks to my team, because thanks to them we are in the top positions and this meant that they noticed me and offered me the chance to race at Most. This year I finally returned enjoying racing, something that didn’t happen for long time.
What can you say about the World Superbike weekend in Most, where you replaced Hafizh Syahrin?
The opportunity came up at the last minute and I didn’t have much time to prepare. One week is not enough to get the most out of me and the bike. Nonetheless, we did what we could with what we had and it was interesting to see the difference in lap times compared to those set on the same circuit in the IDM.
Did you expect to go so fast on the Superbike right away, after so many years on a Supersport machine?
I don’t know if “expect” is the right word, but I’ve always been aware of my potential and I’ve always known that with the right preparation, I can make the most of the bike I ride. I’ve been training with the 1000cc for many years and I can say that this category definitely suits me, as it requires more “stop and go” riding than the Supersport. In any case, the biggest difference is in the preparation.
By the way, you’re getting these results with your own small team. Something to be remarked…
Yes. We are five guys in the team and I have known them for many years. In addition, we have already done testing for around 3,000 kilometers this year, 2,000 of which before the start of the season. I talk about this when I refer to preparation, and it was interesting to see that all this commitment led us, in Most, to set times very close to those of the World Championship, despite riding an actual Stock machine.
Going back to your years in World Supersport, from 2017 to 2022, what are your main memories?
In the early years I raced with a Honda (with the Racedays Team, ed) and in 2017 I immediately won the Europe Supersport Cup. In the following two years I continued with the same bike and the same team and although the CBR600RR was a step behind the other motorcycles, in 2019 we managed to hit the top 6 several times. In 2020 I switched to the Yamaha of the Kallio Racing Team and I scored my first podiums in the World Championship with them. 2021, again with Kallio Racing, was instead a difficult year and so was 2022 with the Triumph.
This past year, in particular, it all went below our expectations and I seriously thought about quitting. Outside of racing there are many other activities that I can live on and pay the bills, so I didn’t feel a huge need to continue racing. But that feeling lasted until my boys and I thought about switching to IDM Superbike. I knew that by racing with my own team, I would have been faster than I was in the World Championship, and so far it’s been like this…
As mentioned above, the last two years in World Supersport have been particularly difficult. What exactly did you lack to achieve good results?
In 2021 I injured my ankle and that affected me for a good part of the season. Even so, however, it was a set of little things that slowed me down: my trust, perhaps the team’s trust in me…And then you know, as soon as you enter this negative loop it’s difficult to get out of it and above all, a single good result is not sufficient to get back on top. In this sport it is important to stay in front constantly, not just once in a while.
In 2022, to use a metaphor, I felt like when you face a dune in Dakar rally, but you can’t get to the top and overcome it. Our decision to switch to IDM Superbike was like going back to the bottom of the dune to regain speed. And I can say that we made it.
What do you do away from the races?
In autumn I will obtain the Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, which is very important for the future. Today we reached the point where a “usual” job brings more money than motorcycle racing. If you’re not in front, you don’t earn, and for this reason I’ve also thought about a future away from racing. However, now I enjoy racing like I never did before, so retirement is not an option at all.
In conclusion, what is your goal for the future?
I want to become World Champion. If one day I realize I can’t do it, then I’ll stop.
Palmen in Motorradsport is grateful to Hannes Soomer for his kindness ad availability and wishes him the best for the last round of 2023 IDM Superbike and for his future.