Gallery by Luca Gorini
The historic Imola Circuit, known as “Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari”, is currently hosting the fifth round of 2019 Superbike and Supersport World Championship, plus the third round of 2019 Supersport 300 World Championship. The latter series is also where you can see Robert Schotman (Kawasaki Motoport), a young rider that experienced a particular story last year on the Italian track.
While he was bridging the gap to race leader Ana Carrasco, Schotman fell at the exit of Villeneuve corners and Manuel González couldn’t do anything to avoid the Dutchman (you can watch the crash at the minute 2:41 of this video). Following that accident, Schotman suffered multiple fractures in his hip and a bladder injury and so the 20-year-old guy from Dordrecht was ruled out of racing for several months. Finally, Schotman came back last September at Portimao.
This weekend Robert Schotman, a former Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup contestant, is riding again on the Imola Circuit one year after that injury and tomorrow he will start the race from 12th position. Palmen in Motorradsport asked him some questions about his return at Imola and also about how 2019 has gone so far and some other topics. The final result is a great interview, that definitely proves how Robert Schotman is a hard-working rider and, especially, a young model of resilience and positivity.
Hi Robert! First of all, can you talk about how 2019 season has gone so far?
Unfortunately it didn’t start as planned. This year I want to become World Champion, or at least to finish inside the overall top-3, and I didn’t expect to score just an 11th and a 12th place in the first two races. At Motorland Aragon we had some issues with the bike, while at Assen we struggled in the big pack we were in. There are still seven races left, so I can still fight to win the title, but the results have to come as quickly as possible. I’m working very hard together with my team and my goal for the next races is to score as many podiums as I can.
You are back at Imola after the accident you had last year. How does it feel?
Honestly I’m very happy, because last year I was pretty fast on this track. I had qualified in third place (then he was penalised and started a little behind, ed) and during the race I was second and getting closer to Ana Carrasco. Unfortunately it happened what you know. However, I’ve come back to Imola with just that strong performance on my mind. I hope to be that fast also in this year’s race.
So that crash is definitely behind you.
Yes, it is. My crash was a “normal” one, actually, but there was someone just behind me and that rider couldn’t do anything, except running over me. The chance of such an accident happening again is low, so it should be fine.
Going back to the first days after the crash, how did you feel psychologically?
I was sad, because I had crashed while going fast and I think I could even had won the race. At the beginning I was disappointed, and of course I felt a lot of pain, but on the day of the crash I already said “I’m going to ride again!” and two or three days later I said to myself “Oh sh*t, I want to get out of here, I want to ride!”. It took a while, but finally I came back last September…
Now let’s talk about something else: in 2014/15 you took part in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and so you were in the same paddock as the MotoGP riders. Do you prefer MotoGP or Superbike, concerning the paddock and the atmosphere?
I prefer World Superbike, because it feels more familiar. In MotoGP, and so also in the Rookies Cup, you see the other riders not like friends, but just like rivals. In WorldSBK everyone wants to win, of course, but it’s very easy to become friends with other people and I think it also helps the performance. When you’re in a better mood, your riding gets better too!
In conclusion, what do you think of Supersport 300 World Championship?
I think now it’s great. I’m not a fan of splitting the riders in two groups, since team-mates can’t be in the same group and collaborate, but the championship has improved a lot compared to last year. The field is very strong and now the manufacturers are very close to each other (it didn’t happen in 2018, ed).
Personally, the only thing I would improve is the power of the bikes. The speed you reach in World Supersport 300 is very low and this doesn’t help the people willing to join Supersport 600cc. The slipstream is very important in this class and so we often see big groups, where it’s easy to touch another rider or fall. Many riders like it, but there are also people like me, who would prefer a less crowded fight. Anyway, I’m happy to be here and I’ll do my best at every race.