Max Biaggi already seems to be perfectly at ease in his role as team manager. He is excited about the new adventure and is pleased to talk about it - it's clear to see that he's aiming high. The starting point is the CIV championship, but this will serve as a launch pad to other things.
The strange thing, for a man who won his last title at 41 and was still riding in SBK with Aprilia up until two years ago, is no longer having to think about things as a rider.
“Last year I was still doing some racing, at 44, and after 20 years as a professional rider, I now want to think big and not work with a team but have a team of my own", he explains.
There was a lot of talk about you alongside Lorenzo or with Aprilia in SBK…
“I had that opportunity with Ducati, but I would have had to enter into an already existing situation, with its rules and balance. I prefer to have a team of my own, to be the owner even if we start out modestly. It is a work in progress, to give young talents a chance, riders who perhaps haven't yet had a break or weren't ready when one came along. I see myself in them”.
How did the collaboration with Mahindra come about?
“We met in the middle, my aim was to have a team and they were looking for someone who could add value to their project, a face let's say. It started like that, we'll start from the national championship but the goal is to reach the world championship”.
“ln 2018 we want to be there, but I want to avoid making any false moves and take it one step at a time”.
Why the CIV, when everyone's focusing on CEV, on the Junior series?
“It's a more competitive championship, but I'm Italian, it was easier for me to stay in 'my area'. When you go to Spain you're in a different context, you're not at home, and it's all more complicated. It will be easier to start, perhaps it's a less competitive series, but we've chosen to do 4 races in the CEV too, to speed things up”.
And you'll also test on Spanish tracks...
“I don't want to worry too much about cost, if the weather conditions in Spain are better then we'll go and test there. It might seem like a contradiction, because it's a big expense and no-one who races in CIV does that, but we want to give our riders everything they need”.
You've spoken about the world championship in 2018, but are you already thinking about Moto2 and MotoGP?
“Ambition is one thing, but to be unrealistic is not in my nature (he laughs). We're definitely over-structured for the CIV but we also want to go to the world championship”.
Where you'll meet your great rival Valentino, who will also have a team…
“Here too he's done things better, because he began before me and didn't make a false start (he laughs). I think that this is a more singular project, because we want to give the max to two riders, giving them all they need to make them two professional rider”.
Do you already see yourself in the role of 'maestro'?
“I was at the tests with them, my role over those days was to talk with the riders and then refer their issues to the technicians, interpreting what they wanted. Then I'll have another role, to prepare them, give them suggestions, direction. I want to transfer my experience to them so that they make less mistakes”.
Is there already a plan to run a proper school in the future?
“Not exactly, if we are able to go reach the world championship, we'll double up to do CIV too. We'll go from the national championship to the world championship”.
How did you choose Del Bianco and Baldini?
“I met Alessandro during a Supermotard race and then I went to see him in a race at Mugello. Davide I didn't know, but I want to a CIV race and saw he was really quick in the wet”.
Will the team be your only commitment in 2017?
“No, because I'll continue to be technical commentator for Mediaset for the SBK races”.
What do you think about the new regulation, with the partial grid reversal?
“As a rider, I find it an annoying rule, but as a spectator it's cool. It mixes things up”.
Will Rea be unbeatable?
“Definitely not. I see a Davies in great shape with the Ducati, which was the best bike from mid-season on. It will be the bike to beat, also because the regulation will give it something of a hand. Melandri has a great opportunity, a golden one, let's see if he'll make the most of it”.
Looking at MotoGP, did you speak with Jorge after the Ducati test?
“Yes, he's really revved up, sure of himself, and he likes the bike”.
Has he done the right thing to leave Yamaha?
“We already spoke about it last year and, in the situation he was in, he's done the right thing. Then Ducati said that they have no excuses with Jorge, which means they're ready to give it their all, and more, to try and make the bike a regular winner”.
Who will Jorge be up against?
“The favourite on paper is the world champ, Marquez. Then in second place is Rossi and third Vinales. But then everything can change”.
Last question, now you've hung up your helmet, would you put it back on for a lap on the Mahindra Moto3?
“At the moment that's not in the plans, for now it's best we leave it to the riders (he laughs)”.