Etienne Mason - SERT / Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (english)
Bol D’or 2017, the chain brakes and your chances of a podium place are lost. What is the charm of endurance?
Yes, luck wasn't on our side at Bol D’or, but the motorcycle needs a bit more development for the 24-hour races. It is developed for the shorter races such as 8-hour at Suzuka. So, we work hard to adapt it to the current design of endurance races.
Why did SERT choose you, Etienne Mason, as one of three drivers? (Apart from the fact that you raced for their junior team)
I think I match the team's expectations, they prefer that their riders are discreet but still hard-working. A rider who allows training and results to speak for themselves.
I am that type of person who often question things in order to always be as competitive as possible, which is why they have chosen me.
World Champion 2015 .. and junior title 2014. In addition to these two titles, what are your best memories?
Without a doubt my first race for SERT at Le Mans in 2015. We were only two riders from three o'clock in the morning, Vincent and I .. and even so we won. It couldn't have been better ..!
Since 2017 you race with the new Suzuki GSXR1000R. What are the biggest differences versus the previous model?
The power is absolutely incredible, our motorcycle is one of the strongest in the whole field. When we got the motorcycle and drove our first tests, we were astounded by the power from the engine, so we didn't think it would last a 24-hour race. But, we never had any problems with the engine's reliability.
You do sprint racing the in French Superbike. Given the compromise the EWC bike, you are three drivers who drive with the same settings, what are the major differences between the EWC bike and the one you race in FSBK?
Infact I'm not doing the sprint races this year, I want to focus entirely on endurance. But, the GSXR I raced in the FSBK was close to standard. In 2017 I raced the new model on which we had only changed suspension, otherwise the motorcycle was completely standard. I managed to show the potential of the Suzuki GSXR1000R versus other motorcycles that were more refined.
This year you have Vincent Phillipe and Gregg Black as team colleagues ..What can they learn from you?
I think I am a very calm person who focuses on whats best for the team. I do everything to make the team win back number one on the motorcycle. We three are very motivated to win the title this year ..
What can you learn from your teammates?
I use a lot of Vincent's experience with ten titles in the baggage, and Greg is really strong during qualifications .. that way we help each other all the time.
What are your strengths?
Vincent: His experience.
Gregg: his starts
Etienne: my regularity
What are SERT's weaknesses, and in which areas can you develop as a team?
We have encountered setbacks in recent years, but our strength is our unity and it is thanks to that we fight for victory.
SERT gives the impression of having a family feeling, even during world championship competition .. is that one of the keys to SERT's success?
Of course .. there are people who have been in the team for 35 years, hence they know each other very well. We have experienced fine moments but also difficult moments, but this is what binds us together.
You have just completed your tests in Spain at Almeria. How does a day for a EWC racer begin, what´s for breakfast?
Oh, no sugar, proteins in the form of eggs, ham, juice and a coffee.
On Suzuki's official website, we can read about your favorite dish - a fondue savoyarde .. for those who do not know, what is a fondue savoyarde?
That's the best dish you can think of! It is a dish from my home area that we eat during the winter after a day at the ski. It is a mixture of several cheeses that are melted together with white wine .. magically!
Which is your best advice to a young racer who wants to succeed in roadracing?
Always have fun, because if your not, there is no reason to continue.
You run number 155. Is there any reason why you are racing with this particular number?
Of course, thanks to Ben Bostrom I dreamed about road racing already as a kid. So, to my first race, I wanted the same number as him, and since then it has remained.
You ran your first race as a 12-year-old .. on what motorcycle was it?
I started with moto cross on a Honda CR80, then I started roadracing at seventeen.
We often see you with both knee and elbow on the ground .. what is the feeling when you ride with your elbow so far down?
It has become second nature, so no special feeling more than that it helps me to feel how much lean angle I have and an extra help if I need to push the bike up.
After 38 years, Dominique Méliand's time as team manager for SERT has come to an end. How has the transition gone?
The boss hasn´t really retired yet, but it wont be long now. He works on making the transition as good as possible for the future!
Text: Dan Höijer