I'd love to try the MotoGP bike at Mugello or Catalunya just to have a run around. Those opportunities don't come around very often though. I just have to think that I was fast and probably could be again - the MotoGP bike would probably scare me now though. Having those as memories is probably the safest option.
You're Michael Laverty's crew chief, what exactly does a crew chief do?
A crew chief has to make sure that the bike's prepared properly with the best settings, the right tyres are mounted at the right time, any eventualities are anticipated for in the wet and dry and organising the technicians to make sure everything is ready on time. Overseeing everything basically.
Part of a crew chief's role is organising but they also need to get involved technically. They'll evaluate any technical changes necessary and also schedule the jobs to be done by the technicians. They'll analyse what the rider's feedback is and translate that into setting changes or preparation for the bike.
When coming in from the track, the rider's first contact is usually with the crew chief, they might also talk directly to the tyre or suspension engineer or even the chief mechanic, but the crew chief will coordinate and have an overview and usually requests will be interpreted by the crew chief.
When it comes to the final decision, that's usually the crew chief's to make. A crew chief's opinion would overrule if necessary.
The crew chief may get their hands greasy if it's an all-nighter, but most of the time at GP level it's the technical side of things and data analysis. In a smaller team like ours though, there's very much a 'needs must' attitude.
As a crew chief, you also need to have a good relationship with your rider.
Does that mean that a crew chief will be involved in which rider is hired?
In practice, these days the riders will often request a crew chief they know or bring one with them to the team. The team owner may seek the crew chief's opinion when hiring, it's the team owner's decision though. If you've never met the rider, there can be problems, but that's rare.
We'd worked with Michael for several years with the Ducati 749 Supersport and then the Superbike, so we know he's a very relaxed rider who's easy to get on with. His feedback is also extremely good which is important for this project. He's a race winner who's keen to get into the world championship.
How far should a rider get involved in the technical set up of a bike?
There's a middle ground if I can sit on the fence! You do want a rider to give you accurate feedback on what's happening, but you don't want them to itemise everything because they could go out on track and start thinking more about what the bike's doing rather than trying to improve their performance.
If I rider isn't improving by studying the data then you should try to avoid them being involved.
The rider can always make the biggest difference on track and if they're concentrating on the elements that a rider can control you're still going to find more speed even if the bike stays the same rather than getting distracted by thinking of particular settings
You also have the role of technical director, what does that mean?