Max Biaggi will sensationally front a Mahindra-backed, two-rider Moto3 team in the Italian CIV championship in 2017, with the aim of promoting young, Italian talent to the world stage.
The six-time world champion has invested his own money in a project that will allow two teenagers – Alessandro Del Bianco and Davide Baldini – to test and train extensively before a campaign in the Italian Moto3 series, which he aims to win.
According to the veteran Italian, both riders will also make several wildcard appearances in the FIM Junior World Championship, and should they impress in these outings, Biaggi said there is a possibility of his team appearing at world championship level in 2017.
“I have been thinking about this for a few months now quite deeply and finally it all came together,” a relaxed Biaggi told assembled journalists at Valencia.
“I'm working for the Mahindra factory and like an ambassador or a front man for them. I will follow some Moto3 and MotoGP races for them….but not the whole championship. We will be focused on the Moto3 national championship and the purpose is to raise young talent from Italy.
“This is not like a competition with the VR46 Academy or something similar; we don't like to focus on big things. It will be two riders, two chances, two possibilities. We want to give the best support we can to these two people.
“We will prepare and do a lot of testing because there is not so much of that for the Italian championship, maybe just two tests before the new season. Our idea is to let them test every month. Testing with these bikes means costs and it is expensive.
“The Italian championship is six rounds, twelve races but we will go to the Spanish championship so it means two months out. For me it is an amazing project and to bring something or someone up from a low level is good.
“This is a big project. I am Team Principal but I am also investing my money. Some others will help but you have to invest in structure and people. I have invested a lot in the team members because the right people can make the difference but they have to believe in the lower level.
“I am taking people that were working in the world championship and normally nobody wants to take a step down so I pushed them to come here with a promise that in 2018 we will be here. It was not easy.”
Biaggi believes the presence of several ex-technicians from his days with Aprilia – a factory he won five world titles with – should guarantee a high level of quality and expertise in the squad.
“There are a few people in the factory that used to work with Aprilia and it was easy for me to relate to them and understand their project. It looks like we are going in the same direction. The technical side is not my job…but it is like we are talking the same language. I like their enthusiasm and their desire to succeed. They are not Honda but they are catching up.
“We started coming together in June and we go testing in Jerez in ten days – normally something that is beyond the budget for any team doing the Italian Championship – but will we spend the money to give them this possibility. We will not be asking the riders for money.”
On how he chose the rider line-up for 2017, the 'Roman Emperor' added, “The main one is Alex Del Bianco and the other is Davide Baldini; the youngest one.
“Why these? Last year I made some Supermoto races and he was doing that championship while also Moto3 in Italy. I was competing with him and thought 'he's not so bad…' and he was the youngest one. I went to watch the last round and he did well without the best bike. He didn't have the best possibilities so I decided to create something and play the card.”