“Hi, I'm just getting in the car with my wife and kids, we're eating with my parents today; I'll call you on the way".
Family is, now more than ever, at the centre of Alessandro Polita's world. The rider, who hails from Jesi and who'll turn 33 this June, isn't just a rider as he's also directly involved in the Polita Family Garage, the family business where anything goes, in total freedom: “as the family we do what we like, creating special bikes and cafè racers, having fun”.
The young Alessandro won the Italian Stock1000 series in 2005, riding the Suzuki GSX-R, before winning the Superstock 1000 world cup the following year with the same bike.
The Jesi rider (he comes from the same city as the legendary Giancarlo Falappa, also known as "il leone”) always looked to have a promising future ahead of him but ran into some unexpected problems: “over the following years I raced in SBK and CIV, I even competed in the Supersport 600 but I didn't get on with the middle-sized bikes. I do better on the big, powerful bikes as I'm a fairly big guy”.
In 2010 “il Pirata” won the Italian Superbike title on team Barni's Ducati 1098R, one race early, reaching the podium in every race and winning two of them outright.
Before taking on his most exciting, challenging and 'different' experience, Alessandro went throught a rather tough time career wise: “the suffering started in 2009: I should have been racing in SBK with the Borciani team, alongside Shane Byrne but they were missing some of the budget which should have come to me and so I had to go backwards and forwards as a substitute for various riders in different championships. After winning the title in 2010, Ducati promised me the world but it didn't exactly go as I'd hoped”.
In recent seasons, Polita has done well in the CIV Superbike series, when things have been going smoothly that is: “in 2014 with the BMW of team Guandalini I was on track for the title right up to the last race at Mugello, where I broke two engines over the weekend. In 2015, I didn't even finish the season with Yamaha due to money issues again”.
Aside from bad luck, which can happen, Alex's career highlights a system that, particularly in recent years, has its limits and gaps: “beyond the individual talent of each rider, there are those who are more or less talented, I think that the real racing came to an end a few years ago. Now, in order to compete in a decent championship, you need to bring a case of money. This counts. Those who don't have the funds won't take part, or will have to settle for making up the numbers”.
Do you think this only applied to the racing world?
“No, what we're seeing is a phenomenon that reflects society; the so-called 'crisis' has led to the birth of sly people, thieves, dishonest and political”.
Alessandro was looking for new stimuli and this need for a change of air led to what most people would consider a crazy idea: “I'd had the idea to go to the Isle of Man in my head for a long while. Thanks to team Penz BMW I got official support and was able to fulfill my dream. I researched it carefully before going there and was fast in the races, a few seconds from the best rookies”.
The dangers of the island, that claims victims every year, didn't worry Polita: “I think that the Tourist Trophy is a dangerous race but not like those on track. I'll explain what I mean. On the track you race in safe conditions, but what changes is your thinking - there you go into a sort of racing ‘trance’ where you often lose sight of what's happening. With road racing, it's different: the awareness that there is danger lurking around every corner and along every uphill makes you more attentive - you feel that you have every moment of your race under control. It been seem like a paradox but for me the TT is less dangerous than track racing”.
His sister Alessia's serious accident hasn't altered Alessandro's opinion: “look, if you're going to have an accident, you'll have it wherever you are, maybe at the building site of you're a builder for example. My sister's accident affected me of course, because it happened to a family member who I love dearly but I was a fatalist before her crash and I still am today”.
What did you like about the TT?
“What did I like? Everything… (silence). I liked all of it - the spirit of the fans and my rivals, the atmosphere, the relationships between team members. The track is sheer enjoyment from start to finish and, even more importantly, a rider feels really valued at the TT, and that's what counts for me”.
How do the various championships compare?
“Now what counts is the marketing. You see these young guys, cap in hand, sponsors water bottle close at hand, they win a Stock or Moto3 race and they already feel like heroes… today's new riders want to a 'personality' at all costs, but they can't do it”.
Are, or were you, a personality?
“I've never tried to be one, I'm old school, I'll talk to everyone, no worries. You shouldn't have to play a part. I've never come to much because I've always said what I really thought. The world of racing has changed and maybe it's no longer my world. Perhaps, for me, it was a parenthesis. There are personalities and riders who don't deserve a bike, that's what I want to say”.
Alessandro is not a fan of the changes to improve the SBK 'show': “can you believe it? This attempt to shuffle the cards, making the winner of race 1 start the second race ninth is very dangerous. if they wanted to make improvements, they should have adopted the British Superbike system, where the grid is establish by the time set by each rider in the previous race, easy. In English and other places the spirit and mentality is different and those competing in the British championship don't bring money, on the contrary, they receive a salary”.
Polita's parenthesis hasn't closed yet though. This year, Alessandro will return to the Tourist Trophy, he'll line up in the CIV Superbike series and will also try his luck with an enduro bike: passion always prevails.