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MotoGP, EXCLUSIVE - Dr. Costa: "With riders, it's a matter of the heart."

VIDEO - The legendary Dr. Claudio Costa was welcomed into the Mugello paddock as a hero: "The real heroes are the riders, I just helped them get back on the bike, to find something hidden in their chest, close to the heart."

MotoGP, EXCLUSIVE - Dr. Costa: "With riders, it's a matter of the heart."
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An unexpected but very welcome visit for everyone. That's what the presence of the legendary Dr. Claudio Costa at Mugello was all about. The man who has literally put so many heroes of modern motorcycling back on their feet was greeted by the affection of so many people in the paddock, from managers to riders, going through those in the Medical Center today who have picked up his legacy. We asked Dr. Costa to give us a few minutes of his time to cast our minds back to when motorcycling was different, perhaps more romantic, certainly more dangerous.

They welcomed you as a hero here at Mugello.
"They welcomed me at the Medical Center very well, I still have many friends, and the emotion embraced me in a way that brought me back to this mythological world. I saw so many friends like you, Lucio Cecchinello, Gigi Dall'Igna, of whom I have immense esteem. I'm very emotional, I hope I don't cry."

You have put so many riders back in the saddle, you have been in your own way indispensable in the history of motorcycling.
"I just helped them get back on the saddle, and grip tighter the handlebars of those motorcycles. I helped them follow their dream, but the wonderful thing is the miracle that they did with what they found in unknown areas of their chest, close to their heart. So they alone are the protagonists of this lovely fairy tale. I remember when I helped Agostini who broke his shoulder. He paid me a great compliment; we were both young. At that time Agostini was just too much. In the race he was good, wonderful. But outside of racing he was too much. The name of the doctor who operated on him at the time was a certain Tagliabue, who was renowned in Bergamo at that time. Today, however, if you ask Ago, he still has that hurt shoulder! He had the same injury here at Mugello and he relied on me, only it was the other shoulder and now that one doesn't hurt him. Then I saved the legs of Carlos Lavado who had had a terrible accident. I did a great job then with Valentino reducing the fracture right away so that the infection had less chance to attack him. Afterwards his great will to come back led him to perform the miracle of Sachsenring, because there he threw from the pit stairs the crutch with which he supported himself."

In your opinion, is Marc Marquez today what he used to be? You were very critical of his treatment in 2020.
"I want to clarify this thing regarding Marquez. I never said that the surgery was wrong, I only said that when Marc had the accident in Jerez, no one asked him when he wanted to come back to racing. Because if he had said he wanted to race the following Sunday, despite the risks to his shoulder, the only way was to put a pin in. If, on the other hand, he did not want to race, he could easily put a plate on, but he would have to wait at least two months. Otherwise everything would have fallen apart. For me it was necessary to listen to the rider's heart to understand where he would go. He despite the plate convinced the doctors that he would race the following Sunday and there began his ordeal. This is the truth; I could never have said that they were wrong. I simply would have asked the rider what he wanted to do."

Do you think this motorcycle racing is safer today, do you think something is still missing?
"Those in charge of safety are doing a lot. When I was there there was a riders' committee that did a lot, then Franco Uncini came along who was an expert and a legend, as Loris Capirossi is today. So I see that the safety of the circuits is in very good hands. I can only say that the more run-off areas there are, the less serious accidents to take care of there are."

When you were there, you often operated almost covertly....
"At certain circuits there was the licensed clinic, but I used to treat them in a tent. I was reminiscent of the old 'carbonari' (secret societies, ed.), I was a kind of carbonaro rather than a doctor. I would go to treat the wounds of the riders in tents with no light so as not to be seen, away from hostile and prying eyes."

 

Translated by Julian Thomas

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