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SBK, Salvadori: "There will always be those who criticize me, but making people discuss is part of my job."

INTERVIEW - "Being a YouTuber has given me opportunities that others do not have, but it has also required commitment and dedication. In Italy they don't forgive you for success, in the IRRC I saw a paddock with less envy and jealousy. In 2025 I might do the NW200. My dream is to ride a MotoGP bike."

SBK: Salvadori:

Track, road racing and hill climb races. These are the distinctive figures of Luca Salvadori's 2024. After his complicated debut in last year's MotoE World Championship, the Milanese rider and YouTuber has in fact decided to flank his commitment in the National Trophy 1000 with two new and fascinating challenges, all to be experienced with the Broncos Racing team.Three championships in which Salvadori has already had his say in an almost perfect start to the season, which saw him triumph in the first round of the National Trophy in Misano; take the record and overall victory in the Deruta-Castelleone, the inaugural round of the Italian Hill Climb Speed Championship; and then conclude with a double win on his debut in the International Road Racing Championship, on the Hengelo track.

"Last year I took a leap in the dark by jumping into situations out of my control, such as MotoE or the race with the 600cc I had participated in without even doing a test, to differentiate from the content I was doing and try something completely new such as the night race, which I could not do with a 1000cc as I was a Pirelli rider. So, this year I decided to prepare all the programs with the team with whom I have found a greater understanding in these seasons and who shares with me the same vision of Motorsport. I am quite difficult to manage, it is complicated to keep up with me, but they have supported me in everything, in the most professional way possible, and you can see the results," Luca told us. "I am happy and aware of what I can do, but I honestly didn't expect to go so well and be so competitive, at the European level, in road racing."

The IRRC was a whole new world for you. When did you realize that you could be successful there as well?
"I went there with all the humility in the world, because I was throwing myself into the middle of houses and trees, at 300 km/h, with riders who are European champions and have taken podiums in Macau, while I don't know any tracks outside of the Italian ones and didn't know what to expect. In my wildest expectations it would have been nice to finish 5th, or make a podium if we got away. I realized I could do it after the first round, when I was 4th in a yellow rookie bib. To win on my debut, with the track record, was incredible, but I also took risks when I realized I could write a little piece of Italian road racing history."

Was there a moment when you asked yourself, "what am I doing?"
"Yes, before I started for the first round, when one of the organizers came and gave me a breathalyzer. It was unbelievable, but even though it's a very competitive environment, the spirit there has remained at 30 years ago: you don't go to sleep at 9 p.m. So they came to check whether the newcomer was sober or not (laughs)."

What inspired you to try your hand at road racing?
"When I was a kid, there was a time when a charity race with go-karts was held every year in Milan, and I was always fascinated to see them speeding through the city center, in close contact with the public. Being so close to the people gives you extra adrenaline compared to tracks, which are a bit more aseptic. It's a whole different way to experience a race, and I was curious to try it out, partly because this winter I 'sold out' all the onboard reproductions of the IRRC, North West 200 and Isle of Man (smiles). To the peak of road racing, which are precisely the NW200, the Isle of Man and Macau, you have to get there in stages because you can get seriously hurt, while from my point of view the IRRC is spectacular because it encapsulates the beauty of track and road racing. It allows the rider to make the most of his vehicle and his skills based on what's in front of him and gives him more room to invent than on the track, where the vehicle now counts for 95 percent."

Do you think you have found your true dimension between the roads and the walls?
"Honestly I appreciate everything, but the road side is one I definitely want to cultivate, because it's great and I can't get enough of it anymore. This year it felt right to start in a 'soft' way, because you risk your life here. It's true that I'm burning the candle at both ends and I have a lot of media pressure on me, so much so that after two races I'm already being asked, 'why don't you go to the Isle of Man?', but you have to prepare a thought-out and accurate program. That's why I think that CIV and a few wild cards in the IRRC were the right approach, and then think about a future program in 2025."

Do you plan to participate in the Manx Grand Prix next year?
"The subject of the Isle of Man is complicated. First of all, because I don't like to do things superficially, I wouldn't want to go there to say 'I did the Isle of Man,' and it would take more years of study to go there safely and be competitive. Plus, I would have to go over a promise I made to my parents, whom I told I would not go. However, one race that I find suitable and where I could be competitive early on is the NW200, which matches my characteristics and is easier to approach, since the circuit is not 60 km in length but 14. Considering how the European debut went, next year I would like to participate again in the National Trophy with the new factory Panigale V4S, do the whole IRRC season with the V4R SBK, and then race in Stock and Superbike at the NW200, again with the SBK. That would be incredible."

Speaking of pressure, you have a lot of it this year in the National Trophy. Why did you decide to race the V4R and how do you experience being obliged to win?
"The past few years, no proper importance was given to what the team and I had done with the stock V4S, with standard electronics, which anyone can buy from the dealer. When riders would come in with much more competitive bikes, Open or even SBK, we would be pointed at as chumps, because people at home have a hard time understanding that the technical medium in these situations is incredibly important. I simply wanted to get that across and tell it on my channels, even to people who are not super experts. As for the pressure, I'm always used to having it and it doesn't change much for me. There will always be someone who criticizes me, I'm used to playing this game and I don't have any kind of problem with it. For me, the haters are a push to do better and better. Also because my job, irrespective of the track performance, is really to create discussion and interest around what I do. I feel like I've succeeded in that, both with road racing and with SBK in the National."

How, on the other hand, is the relationship with your opponents? Is there more respect or envy toward you?
"I think I don't have a good relationship with any of them because I had chances that others didn't have, thanks to my work as a YouTuber. Even that, however, has required a lot of commitment, dedication and many hours of study to understand aspects such as editing and video-editing that are part of a completely different environment than mine and have taken time away from me for training and being on the bike. This also deserves recognition, and then you also have to think about all the managerial work that has come from the success of YouTube and in which I am also helped by SH Service and Bruno Sandrini, who give me a big hand. There are some opponents who understand this and others do not, but I am not the one who has to convince them. I go on my own way as I always have, but one thing I have noticed is that it is true that in Italy the only thing you are not forgiven for is success. At the weekend in Holland I expected that my victory would arouse some rancor or envy, but instead it was incredible to see how well I was received in the paddock and people's curiosity about the SBK project. The perception was of a completely different paddock than in Italy, with much less envy and jealousy. There was a guy who crashed in my category and the whole paddock, especially the opponents, helped him put the bike back together before the race. But then in the race they are all very aggressive, they do some corner entries that are even harder than on the track. It's a completely different mentality."

What nags you more: making the result in the race, or getting good views on YouTube?
"The talk of views for me does not matter because of ego issues, but because I know that by getting certain results at the end of the year I will have a better chance. That's my pressure: to be able to always be on the ball and achieve the best results, to guarantee me more sponsors and a chance to do more races and more important experiences. The sporting side is much more important to me. YouTube and videos are a means to get to that, as they always have been."

Now that you have competed in a World Championship, experienced hillclimbing and road racing, do you have a dream left in your drawer that you would like to achieve?
"Getting on a MotoGP bike. When you do the lap of honor at WDW together with the MotoGPs, like I did in 2022, it gnaws at you a bit every time. I mean that in a good way, which is that you would also like to get to try one. That's what I aspire to, the dream that one day I hope to take out of the drawer and make real."


Translated by Julian Thomas

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