A brutally honest Stefan Bradl is the star of the second episode of “Behind the Dream”, the short documentary series created by HRC. The German rider analyzes the duality of his career with that of his father, his Moto2 title, his rivalry with Marquez, a difficult period in the WorldSBK, and he also talks about leaving the racing world to focus on his crucial work within the HRC Test Team.
Bradl: “I’m privileged”
This is how Stefan acknowledges everything life has given him. Born in Augsburg on November 29th, 1989, he’s taken on many roles, including: 2011 Moto2 World Champion, MotoGP rider, TV commentator and host, current test rider for the most successful brand in motorcycling, and family man. But behind Stefan’s serious demeanor, there often hides a great sense of humor and an analytical mind. The perfect combination needed to lead one of the most important departments of Honda HRC: its Test Team.
“It’s really difficult to find a good test rider because he needs to be fast,” says Marc Marquez about the rider who has replaced him on seven occasions in 2022. Then he added: “But, if he’s too slow, then he doesn’t test things like we want. He needs to be precise with his comments, he needs to be concentrated.” These are the main characteristics that a rider like Marquez is looking for to help develop a bike while the factory works privately.
Bradl: “Going to the Superbike, my biggest mistake”
“I went to the WorldSBK, and that was one of the biggest mistakes I made in my life. I suffered like crazy that year,” Bradl sadly remembers, during his year in the WorldSBK, how he and his team were badly affected by Nicky Hayden’s tragic death. Bradl found himself at a crossroads, not knowing in what direction to go with his career or his life.
Fortunately, he received a call from HRC’s Technical Manager, Takeo Yokoyama, who offered him the possibility of starting from scratch, along with a new team, for the Test Team's European project. Stefan had no doubts and accepted this challenge, one that he continues to face five seasons later.
Puig: “Between being a tester and a rider, your mentality and approach changes”
“Sometimes I switch,” Bradl said. In the past three seasons, he has unfortunately not been able to focus on the development of future prototypes due to Marquez’s series of serious injuries to his right humerus. “The plan is to understand that you’re a racer now,” Alberto Puig, HRC Team Manager, told Bradl the day he got back on the RC213V last June in Barcelona. “And this completely changes your mentality and approach.” Marquez returned to the operating room for the fourth time in the United States and Bradl was back in the Repsol Honda Team garage during the months that followed.
Bradl: “I was jealous when he came to the MotoGP, Marc destroyed me”
“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have entered this room. I would have said ‘wrong address’,” Bradl reflected while he sat inside Marc Marquez’s office, as a photo of #93 and his team loomed over Stefan’s shoulder. But the great rivals of yesteryear have matured. They’ve won championships in other categories and, in recent years, their lives have crossed paths, sharing a great respect for one another. Bradl now has a good relationship with the entire Marquez team, once his fierce rivals in 2011. But he doesn’t hide the fact about how hard Marc’s arrival in MotoGP was: “I was jealous when Marc came to MotoGP.”
Stefan was determined to beat #93, but he finally had to accept that Marc “was way faster”. A completely open and honest Bradl continued: “I had no answer. How can I be faster than this guy?” he wondered when he was racing for the LCR Honda team. The Moto2 champion tried to understand the situation but was unable to comprehend how someone younger could go straight to the MotoGP, to the factory team, and win the title during the year of his debut. Someone with whom he had been fighting for a world championship just a few seasons ago. “It was tough, really tough. Marc destroyed me.”