It's tough at the top, but it's a lot tougher the further down the grid you go. Every rider has tales of missed opportunities but few have fallen as far off the radar as Arthur Sissis. Four years ago, the 21-year-old Australian was standing on the podium of his home Grand Prix, but his dream quickly turned sour and he turned his back on road racing and moved to Speedway.
Looking back on this decision Sissis says that he was “young and stupid” and that facing up to the fact that he hadn't met his own expectations in two and a half Moto3 seasons was the reason that he ran for the exit door.
“I went into Speedway basically because I was young and stupid,” said Sissis as he reflected on his Moto3 career. “When I left Moto3 I was just young, I was an 18-year-old kid who'd just been sacked and you think you’ve got nothing to do in the paddock and that nobody likes you. I was young and I didn’t know what to do, so I thought, stuff it all I'm going to race Speedway.
“This was the first time that I had really been in a situation like that because up until then everything was pretty good. The first time that I'd raced on the roads was when I did the Rookies Cup and it went well. I went from there into the KTM team in Moto3 and did all right as a rookie. Even in my first race in Qatar I finished 7th.”
Paying the price for easy success
The promise of that debut performance in his rookie season showed flashes of talent but whereas Aki Ajo has been hugely successful in turning rough diamonds such as Jack Miller and Johann Zarco into more polished gems, the relationship soured with Sissis. Looking back on his successes as a rookie, now he feels that they blinded him to how big a challenge it was racing on the world stage.
“I think that some of it came too easy. In my first year in Moto3 it was only the third or fourth year that I actually was road racing. To be straight into the factory team, and to have had a podium that year at Phillip Island, I thought that it wasn't so hard. Then I found out that it was really hard!
“As a rookie nothing was really expected of me in 2012. But then I went to the second year and to have Salom as my teammate and see him straight away fighting for the championship was difficult. I was still sort of fighting in a similar place to where I was the year before. In that second season I made a little bit of progress but not as much as I was hoping for in that second year. After the podium in 2012, I was thinking ‘I’ll be fighting for podiums in year two’. Looking back on it I think I expected everything too much, too soon. Most riders don't get podiums as a rookie and I think that was something that changed my expectations.”
Mid-pack, where the pain is
After that second year, Sissis left Ajo to join the Mahindra squad and it was then that he truly found out how difficult life as a Grand Prix rider can become. But the Australian knows that he had opportunities presented to him that most young riders dream of. Being teamed with Sandro Cortese, Luis Salom and Miguel Oliveira didn't make it easy for him and meant that there was nowhere to hide if he didn't get the necessary results. Leaving for Mahindra though, he had hopes of strong results but the season didn't pan out as he hoped. By mid-season the relationship had soured and he parted with the team.
“I tested the Mahindra and I was quite fast and I thought some pretty good things about the bike, but then they changed the bike a little bit and I just didn’t get on with it the whole year. Miguel Oliveira was my teammate and he was thinking the same as me but he learned how to ride it.
“I couldn't get the right feeling and then I was thinking, maybe I’m actually not good enough for this sort of thing. We had a test in Mugello after the race and we took something from the previous year’s bike and I was immediately almost a second faster. I thought, maybe I’m not that bad, but we didn't race that specification for one reason or another. When you’re 18 years old and you’re coming in 20th position and you finally got something that worked but you weren’t allowed to use it, that can become difficult for you.
Led astray by pride
“When I decided to leave there was a lot of people who were saying for me to stay in Grand Prix but my pride got in the way. I was young, stupid and I thought everyone hated me because of what happened in the previous years. I was disappointed and just said to myself 'I don’t want to do this anymore.' I left to go race Speedway in England.
“For the last couple of years I’ve raced for Sheffield. I realized after the first year that even though I enjoyed speedway, it wasn't the reason that I left Australia when 13 years old. I lived in a car and a van in Europe because I wanted to be road racing. Speedway wasn't the goal for me back then.”
Getting back into road racing is now the goal for Sissis, but quite where that will be remains to be seen. He's taking nothing for granted and was at the season closing round of WorldSBK in Qatar to look into what possibilities were available in World Supersport.
“I’d like to do World Supersport, or even BSB would be good because it’s the biggest domestic championship. But just to be back on a road bike. When I go back to Australia I practice on my 600. I enjoy riding the 600 more than I did riding a Moto3 because there's a bit more power and physically it's a bit bigger. For me, the main plan really is to get back on the road because that’s where my heart really is.”
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