Kazuhiko Yamano started working for Honda at just 19 years of age and, 25 years later, became team manager of the factory's Repsol Honda Team for the 2008 MotoGP season.
Yamano has worked his way steadily up the Honda hierarchy, initially working as a HRC mechanic, before joining Mick Doohan crew from 1991-1992 and then becoming Tohru Ukawa's chief mechanic from 1993 to 1995.
Management positions followed, including the role of HRC team manager at the Suzuka 8 Hours from 2002-2006 and the All Japan Road Race championship in 2007, when he was also project leader of the Suzuka 8 Hours entry.
2008 saw Yamano return to grand prix racing, as team manager for Repsol Honda, whose rider Dani Pedrosa currently leads the world championship standings by seven points heading into this weekend's French Grand Prix...
Tell us about your job as Repsol Team Manager – what decisions and responsibilities do you have?
The bikes are an important tool, but even more important than that is the rider using the tool. What we want is that he can use that tool feeling as comfortable as possible. I think motorcycling is a sport that's centred on the person and we want the protagonists to be able to practice in the best conditions possible. We don't want them to get demotivated.
That's my job, providing the riders with whatever they need. And not only the riders, but also those surrounding them, that is, the mechanics, engineers, and the chief mechanics. To get all members of the team highly motivated, which results in greater stimulation for the rider. We try to create a good atmosphere to work in.
You have gone from being Doohan's mechanic to being Ukawa's chief mechanic, a member of Okada's and Gibernau's development team (in 1996) and then team management. Now you are in charge of one of the most powerful teams in the MotoGP World Championship. How have you faced these changes?
My dream was to one day become team manager in the top category with HRC. Many people would like to get that job. But it was not only my dream. I've gradually climbed many steps since I started out as a mechanic and finally became team manager.
I've taken it step by step, and now I'm very happy with my post as team manager of the Repsol Honda Team, though I don't think it's my definitive goal. I don't have any goals, I just want to improve. In the past, all the team managers were engineers, but I come from a mechanic's background. I want to show all the young mechanics, and the rest, that a mechanic can make it to team manager if they are ambitious and work hard enough.