Rapp, who has been racing since 1997, is currently contesting the AMA Superbike series on the Attack Performance Kawasaki, and will be the first wildcard to enter in MotoGP under the new CRT format. His team has confirmed it will be running its in-house built CRT bike at both the Laguna Seca and the Indianapolis rounds; both tracks that Rapp knows well and has taken podiums at before.
Motogp.com caught up with Rapp before he headed off for his first test with the team, to talk about the team’s ambitious project and how he feels about his imminent step into the world championship. Here's how the interview went, direct from MotoGP.com
How did this opportunity to race as a wild card in MotoGP come about?
"Richard Stanboli [owner of Attack Performance] spoke with me at the beginning of March. We’d been trying to put something together to race in AMA but things kept falling apart. Then he asked me about CRT, and I said "why not". Then he called me one day to say we had been accepted. As far-fetched as it sounded I knew it was going to happen. Having worked with him in the past as well, I know he’s a guy who knows how to get things done."
How much input have you had on the?
"I’ve not had a lot of input on the bike design. Maybe a few things with regards to dimensions, like the size of the tank etc. The main input will come once I get on the bike. We’ll be doing a test this weekend at a track close to Laguna Seca at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. Possibly for four days. That will be my first time on the bike. We will spend the first two days on Dunlop tyres to get the bike up to scratch, and then we’ll switch to the Bridgestones for the other two days.
"I’ve jumped on many new bikes in my career, so I feel confident. The hardest thing will be the set-up time required to iron out the glitches. With any new bike you need a certain amount of laps, a certain amount of time to get things working properly. Even in AMA it has taken us five to six races to get to the good level we’re at now, so that will be tough with the CRT bike."
How confident are you about the tracks and what goals have you and the team set for each race?
"On the tracks in 100% confident. I’ve been racing at Laguna for the past 10 years, and last year I raced at Indianapolis where I finished second in both races. We haven’t talked about goals yet. To put a bike on the track in just four months will be a great result already. I guess we’d be hoping on a trouble free weekend, with no accidents. But results I can’t speculate on just yet, as I haven’t sat on the bike."
Could you see yourself and the team as a full time CRT entry in 2013?
"I could see it happening. The only real variable is the money aspect. Richard could certainly do it. As an engineer this would be his dream, as in AMA you can’t do that any more [innovate and design as freely]. If the chassis is good, maybe it’ll result in him making frames for other people, as he already has his own business with racing parts."
Will you be contesting both the MotoGP and AMA races at Laguna Seca? How is your physical condition at the moment?
"The plan is to do both. How much I’ll ride in all the sessions I don’t know. I’ll probably try to conserve energy a bit. I’ve always been physically fit, but yes, I have increased my training and I’m feeling the positive effects now. Early in May I broke my wrist when I crashed because the bike was leaking oil [At Northern California’s Infineon Raceway during qualifying in the TTXGP electric bike class. Rapp was substituting for Brammo’s Steve Atlas after he crashed earlier in the weekend]. I didn’t miss a race after that - but I was in "recovery mode". But I’m feeling good now."
What are looking forward to the most?
Just lining up in the MotoGP class is the best thing. I guess, with Richard’s project, just being on the grid is great.
Attack Performace owner and long-time race tuner Richard Stanboli says of the opporunity, "It has always been a long-term goal of ours to build a real racing motorcycle completely in house. In the past years the AMA has gone away from pure bread race machines to a more controlled environment. Furthermore we had involvement with Kawasaki and Suzuki for a number of years so we had contractual responsibilities that eliminated the option of building our own machines."
The MotoGP series heads to Laguna Seca, California from July 27-29, 2012.