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Q&A: Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha

Massimo Meregalli expresses his thoughts on the 2011 MotoGP World Championship season - his first as team director with Yamaha.
Q:
What are your first impressions having arrived in MotoGP from the World Superbike Championship?

Massimo Meregalli
It's very different for sure. There are more people involved in the project here, MotoGP Factory racing is more important so everything is bigger than it was in my past. Having said that, practically working in the garage it's very much the same but as soon as you leave the garage and walk out into the paddock it's a different atmosphere. I was used to sharing information and talking a lot with the other competitors in World Superbike but here it is quite different. I don't know many people yet and I need to change that.

Q:
On one side of the garage you have the reigning World Champion, on the other you have the 2010 Rookie of the Year, how is it working with two big talents?

MM:
This is the best thing that could happen to me, to work with them is a pleasure. The atmosphere of the team is great. I can't say anything bad about either of them because it's working very well. I'm still getting to know Jorge personally but I get the impression he is a really good kid, very professional and very fast. I know Ben a lot better so I can judge him more. I have to say in the last two years he has grown a lot, already in 2009 he was very focused but I see him now in even better shape, calm and sure about himself and very dedicated to achieving his goals.

Q:
As an ex-rider, how different is the racing environment now to when you were riding?

MM:
We are talking about completely different worlds, I was riding ten years ago and in a different championship and at a very different level to MotoGP!

Q:
Despite this do you bring something valuable to your role as an ex-rider?

MM:
From a technical viewpoint no, but that is not my job. I do think that to be an ex-rider gives some added value in the respect that we know how a rider has to be treated. The rider is the most important element of the team, he shouldn't be spoiled but we have to give him all the trust needs and give him an environment within which he can perform to his best. This is the value that a Team Director with riding experience can give to the team in my opinion.

Q:
Have you ever ridden a GP bike?

MM:
No, never! I live in Monza, very close to the track and there have been times a few years ago when I've walked to the track in the morning through Monza park and thought that I would like to ride a GP bike there, Monza is where I had most of my victories when I was a rider so I have a special feeling for the track.

Q:
What does title Team Director mean?

MM:
My job is all about the team. When I'm in the office I'm focused on organizing all kinds of things from the logistics of transport to preparing the graphics of the team design for bike and trucks and the pit garage. When I move from the office to the race I am more focused on Ben's corner of the garage and Ben's crew whilst The Team Manager Wilco Zeelenberg looks after the needs of the Jorge's side.

Q:
How is it working with Wilco?

MM:
Working with Wilco is good, we've know each other for maybe ten years or more. We worked together for Yamaha in different classes when I was managing the Supersport and Superbike teams so we've already shared responsibilities in the past.

Q:
Did you ever race against him?

MM:
I think for maybe two years, he often tells me he beat me but I do remember a wet race where I overtook him once! He's a very straightforward guy and I like working with him. He did a great job last year with Jorge in his first year in MotoGP with the Yamaha Team.

Q:
You're a very loyal Yamaha man with a long history working for the Japanese manufacturer…

MM:



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Lorenzo and Spies, Sepang MotoGP tests, 22-24 February 2011, photo courtesy of Yamaha
Lorenzo and Spies, Sepang MotoGP tests, 22-24 February 2011, photo courtesy of Yamaha
Lorenzo and Spies, Sepang MotoGP tests, 22-24 February 2011, photo courtesy of Yamaha
Lorenzo and Spies, Sepang MotoGP tests, 22-24 February 2011, photo courtesy of Yamaha
Lorenzo and Spies, Sepang MotoGP tests, 22-24 February 2011, photo courtesy of Yamaha
Lorenzo and Spies, Sepang MotoGP tests, 22-24 February 2011, photo courtesy of Yamaha
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Southerner

March 28, 2011 4:11 PM

George has his great winning combo of Wilco and Ramon. Ben has his side sorted with Maio and House. The continuity within the Yamaha camp stands them in good stead for the season.Within the factory teams they definitely have the most balanced setup. The HRC camp is formidable with a lot of pressure on their riders Dani,Casey,Dovi and Simmo to win the title this year.No doubt all 4 riders are aware of the probability that HRC will probably run 2 factory bikes next year,not 4,so there is a certain pressure there.No pressure in the Yamaha camp.The Honda's Qatar performance was great.In Jerez,win they may,but Yamaha on paper should be a lot stronger than Qatar suggests.



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