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Marks: “I have a responsibility to bring America back to MotoGP with Trackhouse”

“Hayden was one of my idols and our Holy Grail would be to have an American rider on our bike fighting for the title, but it will take time. We took inspiration from Martin's season to build an excellent satellite team, but we also want to help MotoGP become popular again in the United States."

MotoGP: Marks: “I have a responsibility to bring America back to MotoGP with Trackhouse”

Interview by Tiziano Niero

America is ready to return to the MotoGP starting grid with the Trackhouse Racing team, which today unveiled the stars and stripes livery that will embellish its Aprilias in the upcoming season of the championship. An ambitious project for the brand founded by entrepreneur and former NASCAR driver Justin Marks, ready to arrive in the premier class of two-wheeled racing competition, after taking over the RNF team and its slots for the next three years. A difficult but exciting challenge, as the 42-year-old himself said on the sidelines of the presentation, describing the first, frenetic months that made this new adventure in MotoGP a reality.

“I went to college about 20 years ago and I didn't think I'd ever go back, but I have in the last couple of months (laughs). It was really a learning process - said Justin - I believe in the championship, in the opportunity that MotoGP has and in the great possibility that our company has to be part of it, but we didn't have much time, so we had to do a huge amount of work, which would not have been possible without the efforts that everyone in Trackhouse and Aprilia is making, starting with Massimo (Rivola), and then arriving at Carlos (Ezpeleta), Dan (Rossomondo) and the entire MotoGP. We understood how difficult it would be but it was a great opportunity for us, so we did a great job, learned a lot and made progress every day, and now that we have reached a good position we are starting to get excited about starting racing.”

With you there will be an American team in MotoGP again. Do you feel you have the responsibility of a nation on your shoulders?

“I grew up racing cars and at the end of 2000 MotoGP was going strong in America and Nicky Hayden was one of my idols. It's very exciting that we feel that we can do our part in restarting the growth of MotoGP in America. We are active in racing and NASCAR, but we also wanted to invest in other things, because racing is our world and we believe in how great it is. It's important for MotoGP to become popular again in America and we're in the right position to be able to do that, so I feel the responsibility but it's also what excites me because I think we can be a really good partner for MotoGP."

America has a great need to return to having an American World Champion, as it once was with Rainey, Kocinski and Schwantz. Do you have a long-term plan to achieve this?

“I tell everyone that our Holy Grail would be to one day have an American rider on our bike fighting for the title, but there aren't many American riders at the moment. So, one of the things Trackhouse can do is invest in American talent and its development. Now that there is a US team and there are Americans investing in MotoGP, I hope this instils enthusiasm in young US riders to become part of this sport. We, for our part, can make investments and perhaps be able to create a program that helps cultivate these talents, to one day see an American on the MotoGP podium again."

What would make you satisfied at the end of this first season in MotoGP?

“It's difficult to answer this question because there are several things we don't know and we need to learn. The most important thing we need to focus on right now is building a good team, supporting Miguel and Raul, being a good partner for Aprilia and building a foundation on which we can grow in the future. Ultimately, any venture in motorsport wants to win the title and that is our ultimate goal. Racing against the factory teams will be difficult, but we are working hard to build a great independent satellite team and have taken inspiration from this year's battle between Martin and Bagnaia, which pitted an independent team against a factory team. The place Aprilia should be is fighting for the championship and that's where we want to be, but it will take time. First of all we have to be a great team, happy and confident and that is what we will focus on this season."

How would you like to be seen? As an ambassador of the American movement?

“I think what we're doing with Trackhouse is something unique. We consider ourselves entertainers and storytellers, but we are a company active in motorsport and our passion and desire to accomplish big things as a brand wouldn't work if we didn't win on the track. The two things must go hand in hand. We have to be competitive on the circuit, because we can't tell great stories if we are 15th in NASCAR and 12th in MotoGP every weekend. This is a unique opportunity because we can be excellent partners for MotoGP, not only by fielding a team on the grid that is competitive, entertains the fans and puts on a good show, but also by helping the development plan of MotoGP and its growth in North America”.


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