23 June 2014
Nataliya Lyubimova, Yakhnich - Q&A
Yakhnich Motorsport team manager Nataliya Lyubimova explains why her title-winning outfit has been forced to withdraw from WSBK and WSS.
Hi Nataliya, why did the split happen?
The reason is that Alexander Yakhnich invested money in this project but in the end it didn't make sense any more. Of course the decision wasn't made in one day, it was a considered one but that's how it is, even motorcycle racing has to be a business. You have money, you love the sport but one day reason takes over from passion and you have to stop.
Alexander tried to make it work but he was forced to face financial reality and one day he had to call it a day. It was a financial decision on our part.
We had a contract at the beginning of the season but then we were confronted with a difficult political situation with the Ukraine which is still going on and when you have a situation like that with Russian money it's difficult to justify money being spent on…. how can I say …. show business.
When you're dealing with situations like that racing is at a different level. Either way we'll honour whichever contract we've signed.
When we had a strong performance such as the win at Philip Island Alexander decided to invest his own money and during this time he tried to find new investors. Luckily he managed to find some who invested not only in racing but also in other business ventures. In the beginning this deal was OK but in the end it wasn't successful and we sat around the table with Giovanni at that point and even then decided to continue because everything looked like it was going well, we were second in the championship in June and we could justify using the money well but that didn't last.
Ultimately the decision was Alexander's.
So at that time Alexander was financing the team and the business side of things didn't make sense?
That sums up the decision but it has to be said that it wasn't made in one day. He could have made it when he lost the first sponsor, he could have avoided that risk but he stuck with it. How long can you throw good money after bad though?
Even if the team is being successful, you have to think about the future. In reality the team itself is staying and I'm sure it'll do well in the championship. I think we established the team well in the championship before we left though.
So the MV team will continue as before?
Absolutely, they're already getting on with it. If you saw the results over the weekend you can see they're doing well. They have substituted Leonov with Roccoli but he looks like he's the real deal. Yakhnich won't be involved with the team from now on.
What happens with Yakhnich then?
The team has stopped for 2014 but the future hasn't been established. A good part of it is my team though, I feel we've made a good entry, we built it from zero and have come to a high level so nobody can tell me that I've done a bad job and can't look to the future. I am sure that we've established a good brand. What we did stands for itself.
As I said, at this time the Yakhnich team has stopped but me, Vladimir and the mechanics want to continue, we're still hungry, young and want to stay in this paddock. That is purely our desire.
I feel we've built a good name and if we can find the budget and backers I'm sure we can return and continue. Our experience of racing and organization at the highest level can't count for nothing.
That's not some kind of hard decision, it's just our wish but who can say what the future brings. We really want to continue in racing and also Vladimir is currently without any backing and we'd love to continue in the championship to do his season justice. If we can find a budget, we'd stay in the championship just for him. First the budget and then we'll find a way to make it work.
As from now MV is paying for the whole team and they'll continue as before.
Do you feel sad at a personal level?
Of course I'm sad but I know the way racing is. I also know how far Alexander has gone out on a limb to make it work and for Russian motor sport in general so I have to respect his decision. I've worked with him for many years and trust him in this and still feel that we can come back, but for me what is important is that we have made a name which is something to be proud of.
I was in the paddock the other day and talked with a photographer that we know and when I told him this news he started to cry, I didn't know that people outside the team felt so strongly and I have to say that I feel the same.
Six years ago we started at a low level and achieved a factory deal in 2014. I know we've been forced to let that fall by the wayside but I feel that we've really achieved something.
Thanks for taking time out to talk to us Nataliya.
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