In the ’80s and ’90s, the World Motorcycling Championship was very different from what we know today. The teams had much less infrastructure and the staff could be only six or seven people. As resources were limited, there were fewer spare parts and the bikes themselves were built differently, which meant that maintenance was much more complicated.
Engines and gearboxes could be completely disassembled and actions like polishing the cylinders and aligning the crankshafts were commonly done right on the circuit.
If it was necessary to make or modify a part, this was done on the spot with the resources available, which many times meant using a great deal of creativity. This exhausting work obliged the mechanics to work all out during a GP, leaving them little time even for something as basic as sleeping.
The members of the team remain in contact year round, even when they are not on the track
Today things are very different and the teams have up to 40–50 members. The engine can no longer be opened up for maintenance, although this is due above all to the regulations forbidding engine modifications. Even if the bike takes a big hit, it is unlikely that the mechanics will strip down the bike completely and, when needed, the parts are easy to assemble.
The maintenance work is definitely less which in turn lets the team focus entirely on the complicated task of improving the bike’s performance. Also, there are people to take care of communications and public relations. This was almost unknown in the competitions of the ’80s and ’90s!
Heading the team, we have the HRC Director, Tesuhiro Kuwata, and the Team Manager, Alberto Puig, who is in charge of coordinating all the staff members. The team also has a technical Manager, Takeo Yokoyama, Dani Pedrosa’s former engineer.
Each rider has around five mechanics and five engineers on their personal team, some of whom are specialists in particular fields (electronics, telemetry, tyres, suspension, brakes, etc.).
There are also HRC engineers and personnel who do not work specifically for each rider but work to support the team as a whole. Öhlins, Brembo, and Michelin also provide each rider with staff to help with suspension, brakes and tyres respectively.
Outside the pits, but working with the more technical side of the team, is the spare parts manager, who keeps painstaking control over the parts available.
Their job is to follow events on screen and prepare the spare parts needed quickly in case of a breakdown. They also monitors the mileage of the parts on the computer and changes them when necessary.
Staff from other fields
We should not forget the members of the team who are responsible for less technical items, such as communication managers and hospitality team members. About 10 people from all kinds of professional backgrounds work on these tasks, from cooks to journalists and organisation managers.
And to top it off, the team even has people providing remote support from the Saitama offices in Japan and the Repsol Technology Lab in Móstoles.
An international team like this one has people of all nationalities: Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, and more, so that the language generally used is English. The members of the team remain in contact year round, even when they are not on the track.
In the end, if you want to work with the Repsol Honda Team, you have to be very passionate about motorcycling and be ready to work hard without a break!