Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau, Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi, Mick Doohan...these are some of the riders who have worked with Juan Mart?nez, who is now with the Honda 125cc and 250cc teams as overall boss and technical consultant. Having gained experience working with several World Champions in the top category, Juan Mart?nez this season has to tackle the challenge of collaborating with up and coming riders in the World Championship....

Question:
When did you begin working in the world of motorbikes?

Juan Mart?nez:
I began back in 88 or 89. I was 15 and I liked bikes. It all began one summer when I began to work in a workshop opposite my house to make it easier for my mum to control me. I went there and stopped studying. I don't recommend it, but I was hooked on motorbikes. It was a normal workshop, importing Fantic and distributing Yamaha. I worked there 3 years until I had to do military service. When I went back after the "mili" I began to work with Showa, they gave me a chance to join their competition department. They needed a guy to learn all about suspension and since then - that was back in 94 - I have been working in the World Championship.

Q:
Which riders have you worked with?

JM:
At Showa I was lucky enough to be with many great riders like Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi, Luca Cadalora, Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau. The list is endless because at Showa we also helped teams like Montesa-HRC in trial, and this let me work with riders like Am?s Bilbao, Dougie Lampkin and Marc Colomer.

Q:
Can you explain what exactly you do and your responsibilities in the Repsol Honda 125cc and 250cc teams?

JM:
I am the technical co-ordinator in the 125cc team. I am the technical consultant in the 250cc team: If the technicians have something to ask or want to know my opinion about something, I am there to try and help.

Q:
How do you see the category 125cc, the level of the riders and bikes?

JM:
I think at the moment there is a power vacuum in 125cc. What do I mean? That there is no real leader like Pedrosa or Bautista were in their day. Now in some races it is Talmacsi, in others Pasini... It seems that this whole generation of riders with more experience is perhaps waiting for a new leader in the category to arrive. These are cycles that occur every few years and at the moment there is a vacuum, without leaders.

Q:
And the 250cc class?

JM:
We can all see that, referring to results, Lorenzo is making perfect use of the technical advantages he may have. Obviously once you have this type of advantage you have to be able to make use of them and get the best out of them, something that he has been doing so far. I am sure that the Aprilia is now a step ahead of the Honda. Honda's business policy means that bike development has stopped on both the 250cc and 125cc machines, which means we are handicapped. Anyway, what we intend is to do is to get the best possible performance of what we have with our riders. Even Dovizioso, when he has things at 100%, cannot be there.

Q:
What is your opinion on MotoGP?

JM:
This is an era of total transition. We have found ourselves with a new displacement, new regulations for the tyres and I think that everything is conditioned a little by Dani Pedrosa's adaptation to the category. The fact that he has to evolve a motorbike in his second year in the category along with the obstacle that the tyres for the whole weekend have to be chosen on the Thursday are added problems to the inherent difficulty that racing in this category has. At Ducati they have worked very well and Stoner is taking advantage better than anybody else because apart from the motorbike working well he is also doing things perfectly. Valentino is doing what he has always done and what he has been. He is a born fighter, independently of the technical weaknesses on the machine, or a lack of speed compared to the Ducati. In spite of all that he is still there, on the lookout and if Stoner makes a mistake, at any moment he can pass him.

Q:
As an expert in the top category, how do you see the change to 800cc?

JM:
I really do not know the true motive that brought this change. For sure any type of change in a category stimulates the people involved, the desire to work, to modify things... If not, in the end the category sort of stagnates, the people, at all levels, not only at the level of mechanics; the riders too, etc... There comes a time when you have to change something in the category so that the whole championship is stimulated. Even to attract people from outside the world of motorbikes.

Q:
Do you miss your previous work you in MotoGP?

JM:
Not really. Obviously from the outside it may look like a demotion the fact that you are not in MotoGP. But I think it is very important how you face any challenge in your life, whatever you do and that the category has more or less impact. If you tackle anything you do in life with a good attitude, that in the end makes you feel at ease with yourself. You should not live thinking about the could have been, or on what I did. You have to try to enjoy the moment wherever you are.

Q:
After a long time in the top category, collaborating with the small teams in the championship must be another world, mustn't it?

JM:
The approach is very different. In many situations you have to learn from the riders that are already at the top, such as Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau and Mick Doohan, and any of them showed me a whole load of things. At the level of experience, in many things, they were ahead of me. Now roles have changed a little. The experiences and situations that these new riders have to face are situations that I have already experienced. And so my work is now to try and transmit to them what I learnt from others back then, so that they can get the same advantage or performance that the top riders managed to achieve.

Q:
What do you think about Esteve Rabat?

JM:
His best virtue is his enthusiasm and he is eager to do well in everything. This does not mean that the rest of the riders are not like him, but right now Tito, who is in his first full year of racing in the championship, has things very clear and the only thing he likes is to ride a motorbike and has no conception of anything that is not riding. Moreover he is a quick learner. Perhaps he had been lacking a good work method and he needed to think a little about why things are like they are. Being too eager made him make some mistakes at the beginning and these did not let him progress as quickly as he really could have done. For the time being I think that he is adapting very well and he is taking maximum advantage of the technical material he has. He is making the most of what we all are trying to transmit to him and he is taking advantage of that.

Q:
And Bradley Smith?

JM:
Bradley Smith, is the opposite to Rabat, he is a little colder. He has the same desire as him, but he controls it much more. Anything that he does is more with the head; before taking a step he has to understand very well why he does it. He is really a child with the maturity of an older boy. The fact that Bradley started in the MotoGP Academy means that he has already picked up a series of concepts that we are still working on with Tito.

Q:

And Shuhei Aoyama?

JM:
Shuhei at this moment in time is the big doubt because we were all expecting his performance to be much better than it has been this season. It is not very clear what he is going to be capable of achieving. Obviously for the Japanese riders it is much harder racing here because they have a different culture and they have had to move to Europe. Many of them cannot come to terms with this and that weakens their possibilities of top class racing.

Q:
And Julio Sim?n?

JM:
I think that he is a kid with a great talent. He has an innate and extraordinary capacity to be able to ride any sort of bike. This means that he has been able to take giant strides and miss out some steps that others have had to learn, so when he really needed some experiences and to understand why he has arrived where he is and so move up a level, he has been in a state of shock. That makes him nervous and that tension means he regresses a little, then he has to learn again what others knew at the start, because he had acquired it beforehand but does not know why. But when he can combine those two things, his innate talent with the knowledge of how what he is doing works, I think that Juli?n will be one of the riders of the future.

Q:
There is a lot of talk about traction control; those in favour say it is positive for safety, and there are those against as it has made sliding disappear and the role of the rider is diminished. What is your opinion regarding this?

JM:
I am in favour of anything that optimises the performance of the motorbike on the track. I think that in the end we all long for the past and there are those that say the old 500cc were more spectacular. There was also a time when only a few specific riders got access to a certain type of tyre and the people did not mention that. With the old engines, although they did not have traction control, also had an optimised power delivery, done by varying the ignition. Traction control is the result of technological evolution and we cannot be against that. If two bikes had traction control and the rest of them did not, I would be against, but if they all have it in the end the winner is the best rider on the Sunday. We cannot be against traction control or any type of technical improvement that arrives. Otherwise we would also be against today's tyres as they have much more grip that before. This is nonsense. What do we do? Do we go back and race with the bikes from 10 years ago?

Q:
The other subject for conversation is the rule concerning tyres and their limits in the top category. Do you think that this has made things more equal?

JM:
In principle it was to lower costs. What will happen in the long term is that there will have to be a proposal for the teams to get the possibility of having test tyres available, so that when they arrive at a circuit they have enough information to make the right tyre selection for the weekend. Because in the end what we want is for there to be tight close-fought races with everybody having a good chance of fighting for the victory, which is why we are all there. Personally I think that the tyre limit is not a bad thing. Bridgestone at the moment has an advantage, because the limit that affected the firm last year - they were obliged to use the same tyre many times because of the limited production capacity - has made them collect a lot of information about the behaviour of their compounds at many different circuits. Michel?n does not have this, because it used to take a completely different compound suited to each circuit. Moreover, in Europe it had the capacity to make tyres from one day to the next.

Q:
Would you change any rule?

JM:
Right now I can't think of one. This is not my championship and therefore I do not make the rules. When you participate in a championship what you have to try and do is to make the most of the rules that are in force. I can say that I like the change of bike either more or less. What I would in fact insist on is that the safety at the circuits has to be improved because this is the most important thing, because if in the end we are left without riders we do not have a race. More than change rules I would insist on a better attitude to safety so that the riders are not hurt.

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