Q&A: David Garcia - The Proton connection
11 March 2002
Reigning European 250 champion David Garcia joined Proton Team KR this year, as tester and back-up rider. The 23-year-old Spaniard from Almeria will not only test the continual stream of developments from the team's engineering base in England, but hopes also to race as a wild card entry at some GPs.
David will also run a full Spanish 600 Supersport championship campaign - a class where technical regulations have been liberated this year in line with the new four-stroke MotoGP class. The production-based bikes will be allowed to race on full slick racing tyres, with race-spec brakes and suspension.
Garcia has a unique asset - his father developed and owns the Almeria racetrack in Andalucia, so that he has private test facilities available on his own doorstep seven days a week.
You are lucky to have a family motor sport background. How much difference does it make?
My father was always involved - in karting and in rallying. When I was growing up, he owned a go-kart track, and I played on it a lot. My first race was when I was 10 - I took the place of another boy, and won first time. I had a lot of success in karts, but the first time I tried riding a motorcycle round the kart track, I had a big crash - but I was hooked. From then on, motorcycles came first.
Did your family support your motorcycle racing.
Yes - but my studying had to come first. I was racing just as a hobby, on 80cc clutchless bikes. But whether I could race depended on my results at school. No results, no racing that weekend. Later when I got more serious about racing, I agreed with my father to try also to continue studying. I started at university, but I didn't finish the first year. I was only thinking about motorcycles and racing, and I realised to be successful in racing, you have to give it 100 percent of your attention.
What was the path of your career?
I always had support from BP, when I was karting and also on motorcycles, and they continued as my sponsor in the 80cc championship, although I was still racing as a hobby. In 1996 I started to compete seriously in championships, and I won the Spanish championship on the 125cc GP class.
Then came a difficult year, in 1997. I was very fast, but also very dangerous. I was racing 125s in Spanish and European championships. Six times I was leading the race and crashed out on the last lap!
In 1998 I moved to the 250 class for the first time, and had a good season. I finished third in the Spanish championship, behind Luis d'Antin and Jose Cardoso, both of them Grand Prix riders. So I was the first national rider in the championship.
After that year, d'Antin had the Antena 3 Yamaha GP team, and he hired me and Fonzi Nieto as riders. Most of the time I was ahead of Fonzi, but the bike that year was very uncompetitive, and we didn't get any good results.
You didn't stay with the team in 2000. What happened?
It was a question of money. Fonzi could bring backing, and d'Antin found another rider who could do the same. I couldn't bring any backing, so I lost the ride. But I have no complaints about the way d'Antin treated me. If I had been in his position, I would have done the same thing.
I got a 250 GP ride with another team - PR2, but there were a lot of problems, mainly money again, and I did not finish the season with them.
That was a very bad time for me. My confidence had gone, I was just 20 years old, with no manager and no sponsors, trying to do everything for myself. I picked up my coat and went looking for sponsors, but at the end of that year I decided it was hopeless, and I more or less decided to quit racing.
Danny Amatriain somehow heard about my position, and called me. The same day I was on a 'plane to Barcelona, and signed a contract with him as my manager. He was a racer before, and now he had many connections, with sponsors and with the Monlau Fortuna team ... Monlau is a training school for racing mechanics.
From that day, everything changed again. It felt as though I had a new life!
And a new title - winning the European Championship on 250s. Was that a direct result of signing with Danny?
Yes. I raced a TSR Honda 250 for Monlau Fortuna, and with the right backing I was able to achieve the results I always felt I was capable of.
Now you have a new connection with Proton Team KR. What is the importance of that?
My goal is to race in the MotoGP class. I hope this will be a step in that direction.
My confidence is very high now. I feel that I can win anything. I am racing again with Monlau Fortuna, in the Spanish 600cc championship. That is for me a preparation for MotoGP, because of the new regulations for slick tyres and racing brakes and suspension.
I will also be testing the Proton KR3, and I hope racing it - also getting MotoGP experience. It is a fantastic team, and Kenny Roberts is an inspiration for many riders, including myself, so I am very pleased with this opportunity to prove myself.
Some personal questions - what are your hobbies, away from bike racing?
Karting, and I am very interested in car motor sport. I have a track-racing Renault Clio in the back of my truck, with almost 400 horsepower! I am able to use that on the Almeria circuit. I am also buying a CBR600 Honda, to practice there as well.
Do you have a girlfriend?
I have a very nice girlfriend for the past two years - Reyes. She understands that at the moment motorcycle racing comes first for me.
How about music?
All sorts, but I supposed pop-Latin is my favourite. The last CD I bought was Enrique Iglesias.
David Garcia - Career highlights:
Born: Almeria, Spain - September 5, 1978
First Race: 1988 (kart)
First Motorcycle Race: 1990
1995: Spanish 80cc championship
1996: Spanish 125cc GP championship - First
1997: European and Spanish 125cc championship
1998: Spanish 250cc championship - Third
1999: 250cc World Championship - Yamaha
2000: 250cc World Championship - Aprilia, part season only
2001: 250cc European Championship - Honda - First