Lucio Cecchinello and his LCR Honda team are part of the backbone of MotoGP. The Monaco-based squad is a small and tightly knit squad made up of people who love motorcycles, who dedicate their lives to this sport.
Former racer Cecchinello has been into bikes since he was a young boy, but he started racing later than most because his parents insisted that he finished high school before venturing onto a racetrack.
The Italian was 19 when he started racing in the sport production class, aboard a Honda NS125R, and made his GP debut in 1993 when he was already 23.
In 1995 he took a small backward step to win the European championship, aboard a Team Pileri Honda RS125, before returning to GPs the following year.
He won his first GP in 1998 and went on to score a further seven victories before retiring at the end of 2003. He spent most of his GP career riding Honda RS125 machines.
What set Cecchinello apart from most racers was that he owned and managed his own team. He established LCR (Lucio Cecchinello Racing) in 1996, steadily growing the squad to contest the125 and 250 World Championships and then MotoGP.
LCR has gone racing with an impressive array of talent that includes Casey Stoner (who made his GP debut with LCR in 2002), Randy de Puniet, Alex de Angelis, Nobby Ueda, Carlos Checa. Toni Elias and its current MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl, the reigning Moto2 World Champion.
When you were racing you were more than just a rider...
I started racing quite late because my parents wanted me to finish high school. When I won the European championship in 1995 I was already 26, so when I returned to Grands Prix the following year I realised I was already quite old! So I thought quite deeply and decided it was best to invest the money I had won in establishing my own team.
The other reason I made my own team was because I thought that the Grand Prix paddock is a fantastic place, a wonderful environment, and I didn't want to leave it, so I thought the best way to stay here was to establish my own team. I was already looking ahead.
Was it difficult being a rider/manager?