MotoGP, Uccio: "Yamaha wants the VR46 team? We want competitive bikes"
"The contract with Ducati expires next year, then we'll see. Bezzecchi is an instinctive rider, but sometimes he is in too much of a hurry. When Marini puts all the pieces together, he's a machine, but sometimes he loses concentration over unimportant things"
Submitted by Matteo Aglio on Mon, 06/03/2023 - 16:26
The premiere of the VR46 team for the 2023 season was held in Milan, not at the Teatro alla Scala but at the Cupra Garage, a stage more suitable for engines. With Marini and Bezzecchi confirmed on the Ducati, the new year promises a lot, but even before things have started Yamaha has come back on the attack. Lin Jarvis did not hide the fact, just a few days ago, that he wants VR46 as a satellite team.
Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci, team manager of the team, is prepared for the question, which is not new for him.
"It's a great honour for us that Yamaha is pushing to have us and we're very pleased, but we have a contract with Ducati until the end of next year and we'll respect it - he says - In the future, who knows, but we're interested in having competitive bikes. If Yamaha has bikes that go fast after 2024, we're open to anything."
So let's talk about the present and the past: last year was your debut in MotoGP, did you get promoted?
“You can tell more from the outside, but my end-of-year balance made me happy because from the middle of the championship onwards we went strong with both riders. At the beginning Luca suffered a little more but, if there must be a fault, it was more ours, we still didn't have the situation in hand and managing a factory bike wasn't easy. However, then the team worked well, it amalgamated and Bezzecchi got on the podium and was Rookie of the Year, Marini achieved two fourth places. We fought for the positions that matter and, as I always tell my guys, that's the important thing. We have to be protagonists”.
Now, however, expectations have risen and the game becomes even more difficult.
“That's what I was about to say, it's normal and right that there are more expectations and we too have more internally. Our riders are fast, they have more experience and I expect more, even if it's never easy."
At the beginning of the year everyone sets themselves a goal, what is yours?
"Try to fight in all the races for the top 5 positions, get on the podium sometimes and, why not, even win a few races".
Do you like the introduction of the Sprint Race?
“Initially it worried me. Looking at it from the practical side and we had to reorganize a bit, in fact we introduced an extra person who will serve as a wildcard for Maro and Bez's teams. Carlo Casabianca, the Academy trainer, has studied a slightly different preparation for the two riders, so that they are more explosive and have more 'fuel'. Mentally too, it won't be easy managing two races over the weekend, but from a show point of view I think it will be good for the fans. It will be a short race and there will be little time to get up front, it will be tough”.
From the point of view of the bikes, you will have two GP22s, the Ducati with which Bagnaia won the title: could that be an advantage in the first races?
“We made this choice because it was right to stay with a bike we knew, not to take risks like we did last year. At the start of the championship, I hope it will give us some advantages, then I know that from mid-season onwards, perhaps even earlier, the factory squads will improve and it won't be easy for us."
Can you tell me one merit of Bezzecchi and one of Marini?
“Marco is instinctive, he doesn't give a damn about the settings and the tyres and always gives 110%. Luca, on the other hand, takes longer to put everything together, but when he does, he's a machine. I've known him since he was in his mum's tummy, but this characteristic of him already impressed me when he was in Moto2. It took time to sort it all out, but then he understands why he's going strong and continues to do so, so I'm having like déjà vu. It is a great advantage: he stays on top in an intelligent way ”.
Now a defect…
“They are caused in some way by their merits. Bezzecchi should be calmer at times and sort things out better, in today's MotoGP talent is not enough. Sometimes he's in too much of a hurry, he goes fast but doesn't pick up everything he could. Matteo Flamigni (his chief technician) also has the same character: he wants to do many things and I have to keep them calm in meetings, but this is better than having to motivate them ”.
“Sometimes he gets nervous and loses concentration because of things that don't deserve it, like a race suit that's a little too tight or a tyre that doesn't work. So we need to calm him down and put him back 'on the jig’, we did it last year and I hope we will start again from that point".
Both are out of contract, aren't you afraid they'll be poached from you?
“If they went to another team it could only be a factory team, otherwise they would stay with us, so our goal would be achieved. It would be good for them and for us, we would have done our job well as a satellite team”.
However it goes, will the team continue regardless of whether or not there are Academy riders available?
“We hope that Vietti deserves to go up to MotoGP and in my opinion he will succeed, he will be our next candidate. Then, when there are no more Academy riders, we'll look around. The team will move forward."