Herve Poncharal: I was the truck driver, the cook…

With Nicolas Goyon promoted to the new role of Tech3 MotoGP team manager, owner Herve Poncharal admits his record of attending every grand prix since 1985 might be at risk.
Herve Poncharal, Portuguese MotoGP test, 11 March
Herve Poncharal, Portuguese MotoGP test, 11 March

Or perhaps not.

So far in 2023, it’s been business as usual, with Poncharal - whose official title remains ‘Team Principal’ - attending pre-season tests for MotoGP and Moto3 as well as the opening grands prix.

“For some people it counts, but I don't care too much about my title or what my business card says,” Poncharal, who is also president of teams' association IRTA, told Crash.net.

“When Tech3 first started in ’89, with just three of us, I was also the truck driver and doing the cooking!

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“Then we grew. From running one rider in 250cc we went to two riders, we won the championship in 2000 and went up to 500cc, which became MotoGP. Then we decided to enter Moto2, so we created a second team, which is now the Moto3 team. Then MotoE began, so that made three teams. We now employ about 50 people including hospitality, marketing and office staff.

“Of course, as you grow, you need to change the organisation and adapt your own role. The timing was right to promote Nico from crew chief to team manager for several reasons.

“Not only did Pol come back to us for this year, which we were really pleased about, but he was also joined by Paul Trevathan [his former Red Bull KTM crew chief]. Pol and Paul really trust each other, and they are like one. You’d never want to break up that partnership and we welcomed them both with open arms.

“But then I had three crew chiefs for two MotoGP riders! However, Nico had been doing more than a crew chief role for some years now. His home is next to our office, so he’s at the office for 12 months of the year and he’s become more and more involved in helping me run the team.

“I think he’s got the right profile and it’s the right moment. The good thing compared to some team managers is that he also has a really strong technical background.”

Nico Goyon
Nico Goyon

‘Nico joined us as an engineering student’

“Nico is a real Tech3 guy, who has worked his way up through the team,” Poncharal explained.

“Nico joined us as an engineering student. When he was at university, he also worked for Aprilia. His level was really good and so once he’d finished studying, I employed him.

“I think his first job was as a data guy in Moto2, then he became a data guy in MotoGP, then a crew chief.

“Cal [Crutchlow] had left and took Daniele Romagnoli with him [to Ducati]. Nico had been a data guy for Cal and together with Yamaha we thought he was good enough and promoted him to crew chief for 2014.

“So his first season as a MotoGP crew chief was also Pol’s first MotoGP season, they were both rookies with us. Nico was then a crew chief until this year.”

Herve Poncharal: I was the truck driver, the cook…
Herve Poncharal, British MotoGP, 6 August
Herve Poncharal, British MotoGP, 6 August

‘I've never missed a race since 1985’

With Goyon now running the Tech3 pit box, does that mean Poncharal’s unbroken run of grand prix attendance might come to an end?

“This is a good question. I've never missed a race since 1985. I think it’s a record!” Poncharal replied.

“I did the [Portimao] MotoGP test, then Nico flew back but I didn’t want the Moto3 team to have the feeling I didn’t care so I stayed for the Moto3 test. Then there’s the Portimao race weekend, Argentina, COTA.

“I left home on the 8th of March and will be back on the 18th of April. So I didn’t really slow down yet!

“Am I going to miss some races? I don’t know. Maybe when you see the end of the calendar... who knows. But I think Carmelo is going to tell me, ‘Herve, I need you to be there!’

“We will see. But for sure I want to step back a little bit and let Nico be more the man in charge in the pits and if I have some meetings with Carmelo or Pit Beirer etc then I don’t need to be in two places at once.

“So I'm happy, but my position didn't really change, ‘Team Principal’ or whatever it is!”

Espargaro, Goyon, Poncharal, Beirer, Fernandez,
Espargaro, Goyon, Poncharal, Beirer, Fernandez,

‘We’re no longer the KTM ‘B’ team’

A more visual change at Tech3 this season is the switch to red GASGAS branding for the team’s fifth season as KTM’s Independent MotoGP partner.

“I'm very proud to wear the GASGAS colours. Last year there was the KTM Factory team and the KTM Tech3 team. For sure there was an A team and a B team. Now, there is one team representing the KTM brand and another representing GASGAS,” Poncharal said.

“I’m no more the ‘B’ KTM team. We have our own identity. We have our own communication department. We did our team presentation live in Barcelona, to use the Spanish flavour where the company was born. KTM did their presentation in Austria. They did it online, we did it on stage.

“But behind the scenes, technically nothing changes: Pierer Mobility is entering MotoGP with four riders and the terms of Pol's contract - not speaking about money - are very similar to Jack and Brad.

“The level of support is also clear: Pol’s position is the same as the other two. Of course, all four riders have a 2023 spec bike and then the evolutions are supposed to come together. There won't be a delay like in the past.

“Pierer Mobility believes a lot in the GASGAS brand. Most of the range is offroad, but from 2024 they will have a proper range of road bikes.

“The surveys show GASGAS is seen as a very cool brand and they believe there is a lot of room to grow the brand in the future. The demand is already big in key places like the USA.

“So Pierer Mobility has high expectations for this brand. This is also why they’ve been very clear and said, ‘Herve, you will be supported 100% like the other [Red Bull KTM] team’.”

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