Manuel Puccetti, head of his own Supersport world champion team with the ZX6R that is ready to repeat the performance this year, has for some time now been working on a project that attracts attention and interest, generates a lot of press and would launch him and his team into the pool of big names in SBK.
And yet, this great adventure has very humble beginnings... “We began by taking the bike to the track on the trailer in the Italian championship. We were enthusiastic about the adventure and we had a lot of fun. Little by little, results began to arrive here and there, until we won a championship title... now everyone is talking about us and I am truly proud and pleased.”
It looks like there have also been Japanese guests in your garage...
“They stopped by because we want to take our team into Superbike as well and they want to support our project by giving us a bike very similar to the official one. They like the way we work and with the bike we would also have all the upgrades that would arrive one race after the primary team receives them.”
Not bad, but will it be enough to stay out front?
“Melandri told me that, in his opinion, the difference will be determined by the work with the team, the harmony that is created and so the rider could be that extra element to battle with the leaders. We'll do everything we can to place him in ideal conditions.”
It seems like a small detail, but... who sought out whom?
“We met in Reggio Emilia in January and I must say that the interest was mutual. We saw each other again several times and, after an embryonic phase, the project began to take shape more and more up to this point, where we have given Marco a ZX10R stock to use for some free practice training. He asked us for it and we gave it to him.”
Are there tests planned with a more “beefed up” bike?
“If everything goes as we hope, during the summer, taking advantage of the long break from racing, we'll give Melandri an even more advanced bike so that he can learn it better and taking his time. We are at 60% o our operation and we have three valid sponsors to get everything done, with San Carlo at the head of the queue.”
It seems, however, that you are not certain about announcing next season, or am I mistaken?
“Beyond pure superstition, I'll announce the agreement when I have two things…”
Which two things?
“The signatures on the contracts and the money in the bank (he laughs).”
Money destined only for Melandri or for other riders as well?
“We want to keep Kenan Sofuoglu in Supersport, and we have a renewed contract with him, because he wins races and we are happy with him. The rest of the budget will be for Melandri, sure, but also for Randy Krummenacher. Our goal is to have him riding alongside Melandri in Superbike and, speaking of that, I'll have a meeting in Zurich with the rider and his sponsors to sort all the details. I want to clarify that most of the attention will be for Melandri. We intend for him to be the lead rider.”
Guim Roda is certain that next year you will be in SBK and you will have an official bike like theirs. What do you say?
“The answer should come from Kawasaki, but the rules say that the pieces and parts have prices and the final job is determined by the team, by the quality of the work and... by the rider's right wrist.”