‘I’m rid­ing more than ever’

The boss of Yamaha’s Mo­togp rac­ing teams talks Fizzys, a dodgy mo­ment with Randy, and get­ting beaten by the kids at Rossi’s ranch

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

How did you first get into bikes?

I’ve been rid­ing since I was 15. I started off rid­ing tri­als – my fa­ther was a tri­als rider and so when I was at a rea­son­able age I ended up on one too. The first bike I ever rode was a Ban­tam 125 though, which my buddy bought for noth­ing, I think he spent £10 on it.

What came next?

From there, I started rid­ing tri­als and when I was 16 I got my candy gold FS1-E, which was the door to free­dom and started it all. I’ve been rid­ing since, and I’ve owned a lot of Yama­has be­cause my ca­reer has al­ways been with them. I’ve owned a whole bun­dle of things, and I’ve al­ways rid­den a lot. When I was work­ing for Yamaha Europe, be­fore I was in Mo­togp, I was re­spon­si­ble for all the global press in­tro­duc­tions and it took me all over the world, to cir­cuits, deserts, roads, and I’ve been for­tu­nate to ride all sorts of stuff in all con­di­tions.

What’s been your most ex­treme mo­ment?

I was fool­ish enough to go on the back of Randy Mamola’s two-seater. That’s prob­a­bly the most bizarre ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve had, and not one I’m likely to re­peat! He was quick!

Do you ride of­ten?

I don’t ride on the street as much as I’d like, with trav­el­ling so much, be­cause a good ride takes a lot of hours. In­stead, I have two sons who are 18 and 21, and we ride dirt bikes to­gether. We’re more likely to go out and hack around on a mo­tocross track. What’s bizarre is that as most peo­ple get older they tend to ride less, or maybe more se­dately, but I don’t know if it’s a midlife cri­sis but I ride more than ever these days. I’m not quick, but I like to think I’m at least ca­pa­ble. If we do go on the road though, I’ve got a FZ1 and they’ve got a MT-07 and MT-09. We’re lucky to live in the north of Italy, and we’re su­per close to the lakes and the Alps, so there’s some su­per rid­ing roads around.

But no scoot­ers?

If you live in Italy you’ve got to have a T-max – they’re stan­dard equip­ment! We live out­side Mi­lan, and with it it’s just per­fect for to­tal con­ve­nience. You can put your hel­met and all your junk be­low the seat when you ar­rive and it’s a beau­ti­ful bike, even if it’s not quick enough for me to re­ally get a thrill out of. If I want that, I get on some­thing quicker. I tried to con­vince my­self a few years ago that maybe I should switch to the scooter, be­cause it was more con­ve­nient and more com­fort­able. I was half con­vinc­ing my­self down that route, and then I got on a sports­bike and re­alised ‘what was I think­ing?’

Have you rid­den at Rossi’s ranch?

I’ve been to the VR46 Ranch a few times. The ranch is spe­cial, be­cause you’re out of con­trol most of the time! There’s no grip on the front, no grip on the rear, and it’s very un­nerv­ing. It’s not a flat oval ei­ther, and there are some very wind­ing corners with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics. It’s quite chal­leng­ing, even if it’s not phys­i­cally de­mand­ing. It’s ad­dic­tive though, be­cause you start to get a lit­tle quicker, then you want to go faster again – and then an Academy rider comes past you like you’re stand­ing still and hu­mil­i­ates you! It’s be­come a tra­di­tion with the team that we go be­fore Misano, and it’s a nice day out with a good bunch of peo­ple.

‘I went on the back of Randy Mamola’s twoseater. He was quick!’

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