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Q&A: Max Biaggi

11 January 2002

Yamaha rider Max Biaggi talks about the 2002 season, testing, the change to four-stroke machines and a lot more:


Q:
This first year of four-stroke GPs is going to be very unpredictable, that should make the season-opening Japanese GP in particular more exciting than ever…

Max Biaggi:
For sure there's a whole new set of rules to deal with, we're going off in a different direction with a new kind of bike, it's a new goal and it's interesting. It's a big challenge both for me and the engineers. Now we're working at adapting my riding style and adapting the character of the four-stroke YZR-M1. With this new machine, every track will be like a new racetrack for us.

From my side, I will try to learn to ride the four-stroke as quickly as possible and I hope Yamaha can help me by developing a bike that is easy and comfortable to ride.

Q:
The series of upcoming European IRTA tests will be the first chance for the four-strokes to run against each other, do you think we'll see their true potential then, or will the factories still be hiding some secrets?

MB:
I think we've already got some idea of how the bikes are performing. We already know that the Honda is fast but we don't know much about the Suzuki and Aprilia. Anyway, I'm relying on Yamaha to keep working, to come up with something good. We already have a good base set-up but it's too early to say how the championship will go.

Q:
You must be doing more testing this winter than ever before – is there a chance you'll be drained by the start of the year, or do you enjoy testing?

MB:
This new four-stroke MotoGP series is a completely new adventure for us, so of course it's better that I ride and get used to the bike. The biggest difference is the engine braking, plus the extra weight, due to higher minimum weight regulations, and the character of the power delivery.

Q:
Unlike your team-mate Carlos, you don't have any four-stroke experience, does that mean that you have more to learn than him?

MB:
For sure, but I feel I'm learning quite quick and I think I'll be ready for the first GP in April. The more I ride the M1, the more comfortable I get.

Q:
How are you adjusting your riding style to suit the four-stroke?

MB:
Corner entry is completely different compared to the two-stroke 500 that I used to race. With the four-stroke, the approach to corner is a little slower than with the 500, there's a lot of engine braking from the rear wheel, so you're not so heavy on the front brake. Once I get used to this different feeling it will become the natural way for me, but at the moment I'm still learning. Yamaha are now working on giving me an engine with less engine braking which should be more comfortable for me; I'll try that engine later this month.

Q:
How does your corner speed on the YZR-M1 compare to your corner speed on the YZR500?

MB:
I think they're pretty similar, but it's not so easy to immediately get to that level with the four-stroke.

Q:
How about enjoyment – are you enjoying the four-stroke?

MB:
Well, I hope I can enjoy it some more. At the moment I'm learning to ride with a different style, so I'm more focused on learning than enjoying. It is enjoyable to ride and I hope it will eventually be more enjoyable than the 500.

Q:
Some people say that four-strokes are easier to ride than 500s, would you agree with that, and if so, will that make the racing even closer?

MB:
The bike isn't easier to ride, not at the moment. That's partly because I'm not used to it, but both Yamaha and I are also working to make the bike better than it already is.

Q:
There's been a few personnel changes for 2002, how do you find working with the new Yamaha engineers?

MB:
I think Yoda is fine and Suzuki too, I like the way they work. I think we have a good group within the Marlboro Yamaha Team. I feel that Yamaha are putting in more effort than ever before, which shouldn't be a surprise because this is a brand new project for everyone. To make the YZR-M1 competitive enough to win, everyone must make a big effort.

Q:
You've been busy testing over the winter, but have you had any holidays?

MB:
I stayed at home at Monaco over Christmas, then right after that I flew away to an island somewhere.

Q:
How's the football, any big matches during the off-season, and any chance of you going to the World Cup next summer?

MB:
I've played one big game, a charity game in Rome just before Christmas. I played with an all-star team with actors and other famous people. If Italy make it to the final maybe it'd be nice to go and watch, but it won't be easy for them. Anyway, I'll be watching a lot of the matches on TV.

Q:
What was your first job?

MB:
Courier for Pony Express in Rome, when I was 18, earning money for my first helmet, gloves and leathers."

Q:
First record you bought?

MB:
I think it was Duran Duran.

Q:
Favourite singer/band?

MB:
Queen and Aerosmith.

Q:
Favourite movie?

MB:
Any good action movie.

Q:
Your favourite journey?

MB:
Driving down the Florida Keys.

Q:
Your favourite place to party?

MB:
Miami, you can go a bit crazy there.

Q:
Your idea of perfect happiness?

MB:
Good health for everyone I love, winning the world championship and having a good life.

Q:
Best day of your life so far?

MB:
June 26th, when I was born, and the day I won my first 250 title in October '94.

Q:
Your favourite holiday destination?

MB:
Polynesia.

Q:
How were you at school?

MB:
A little too active, I was never quiet. My best subject was maths.

Q:
Best book you've ever read?

MB:
The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho

Q:
What car do you drive?

MB:
A Mercedes and I still have my Porsche.

Q:
Do you ride bikes on the road?

MB:
I have an R1 and a Majesty 250, though I'm now after a TMax


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