‘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
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!’