The MotoGP World Championship comes to Italy this weekend, for the sixth round of the season. With three victories and a second position from five races, Marc Márquez arrives leading the overall standings, whilst Jorge Lorenzo took the victory at Mugello a year ago. Giacomo Guidotti, a paddock veteran who spent the last two years working with Dani Pedrosa in the Repsol Honda Team, gives his thoughts on their prospects for the weekend.
[Question] What does it mean to work in the Repsol Honda Team garage, with the most successful team of recent times, with a factory like Honda and a competition department like HRC?
[Answer] They were two very intense years, in which we had highs and lows in terms of results, but they were important times professionally speaking. I had to learn the way HRC works and also look after Dani Pedrosa in the box, at a very particular moment of his career. I consider that this time marked a very big step forward in terms of my personal growth.
[Q] What working philosophy did you encounter when you joined the Repsol Honda Team? Was it similar to what you had experienced before?
[A] The Repsol Honda Team is the highest level that a crew member can aspire to, and I don’t need to explain why. However, I had to learn a way of approaching the management of materials and systems quite different from that which I had previously used, and quickly. I made the most of all the information and had great support from the factory to reach a good level in a short time, studying in Japan and doing many hours of practice – especially spending a lot of time at the circuit.
[Q] Did having a rider like Marc Márquez in the same box add to the pressure? Or was it helpful because he allowed you to see where it was possible to improve?
[A] Basically, teammates study each other and improve thanks to their rivalry. HRC developed the RC213V by combining the requests of their two riders, both in 2017 and 2018. Dani and Marc had different results, but both riders were necessary in order to be successful. Personally, I was very interested in sharing a box with Marc and his team; we have an excellent relationship.
[Q] What do you think is needed to aspire to victory with the Honda?
[A] As in any situation, you need skills and will. You’re sure to find that at Honda. However, winning is always difficult and the other factories and riders are very competitive. The current regulations favour races run in groups.
[Q] With the current technical limitations of the same ECU and a single tyre manufacturer, what do you think are the keys to making a difference in the premier class?
[A] Nothing can be overlooked and everything must be right, down to the smallest detail. Tyres and electronics are the main areas that influence results. The differences in the bikes are not very big and the riders are still very important in motorcycle racing, as are the team, to give you the necessary confidence.
[Q] We’re coming to Italy, a circuit that is as beautiful as it is demanding. What is the most important thing that is needed to prepare for victory on a Sunday at Mugello?
[A] It’s my home race; I was born and live in Florence, and Mugello is my favourite circuit. I’m sorry but I can’t reveal my secrets; I’ll try to transmit them to my rider, Takaaki Nakagami. It’s a difficult circuit that is fast and twisty, so the key is to be smooth and consistent, as well as going very fast on the main straight.
[Q] Marc Márquez has two wins in a row. What can we expect from him this weekend?
[A] As a Honda HRC technician, I hope our riders are up at the top on Sunday and, of course, I will work to achieve the best result with Taka and our 2018 bike. Being realistic, Marc is a serious candidate at Mugello, and this year we also have Jorge Lorenzo on our bike, who could surprise with a good result too.
[Q] How do you see Jorge Lorenzo’s development onboard the Honda?
[A] Jorge is a great talent and a fabulous rider; I’ve liked the way he has been riding for a long time and I am sure he will get there soon. He had so much bad luck at the end of last season and is still recovering from that. He still has to adapt completely in order to be able to reach his full potential.
[Q] In your work with riders, how does your personal relationship develop and evolve?
[A] First of all, there is respect and trust, which grows naturally in a relationship in which collaboration and understanding is required. Our work focuses on making the rider as comfortable as possible, so that he feels safe when riding and making decisions. Good and bad moments are shared with them. Each rider is different, the balance is never the same and it evolves naturally. A personal relationship is created and improved when you spend a lot of time together, working with the same objective.
[Q] How do you think the rest of the World Championship season will go?
[A] There is still a long way to go and everything can change; Making predictions is not my style. Of course, it will be a challenge and I will try my best to achieve the best possible result with Taka, as well as working hard with HRC to contribute to a successful season.