EXCLUSIVE: Marc Marquez's crew chief Frankie Carchedi: "It's all a case of the first 3-4 races"

Marc Marquez’s crew chief Frankie Carchedi: “As the year goes on, we will improve. It's all a case of the first 3-4 races, how high that starting level is.”


Marc Marquez’s Gresini crew chief Frankie Carchedi has no doubt that the six-time MotoGP champion will get stronger on the Desmosedici as the season goes on.

The big question is what his starting point will be.

The former Repsol Honda rider turned heads by leading the times on his way to fourth on a Desmosedici debut at the Valencia test last November, followed by sixth (+0.588s) at the recent three-day Sepang test.

That made Marquez only the fifth-best Ducati and he was also ranked around sixth during his Sprint race simulation. But he was close, only a few tenths a lap away from the best long run by Carchedi's former rider Fabio di Giannantonio (VR46 Ducati).

“All I can say is that as the year goes on, we will improve. It's all a case of the first 3-4 races, how high that starting level is and how much you have to build on. Then you'll understand what sort of year you can do,” Carchedi told Crash.net on the eve of the Sepang test.

“I think people forget in a test, it's not easy for someone to be fastest, but when you have 150-200 laps over three days, you have time to get to the top. Qatar has a test before it, but when you go to Portimao, you’ve got about 20 laps and then you’ve got to make Q2 directly.

“That's when you know how ready you are. Because you've got to have a package, a base, everything that works straight away. Then you'll get more of an inkling [of what we can do over a season].”

The Englishman, who helped guide Joan Mir to the 2020 title at Suzuki, added: “It's a completely different bike. It’ll take time. There's a reason it took Pecco until his fourth year [to be world champion]. He scored 40-50 points in the first couple of years. Jorge [Lorenzo] struggled at first…

“I know myself when you go with the same rider to a track the year after, you already know exactly the bike set-up that you’ll use because of how well it worked the year before. It's a big help [to have that experience on a bike].”

How long does it take to win on a Ducati?

1000cc era:

Jorge Martin: 6 starts (2021)

Enea Bastianini: 19 starts (2022)

Marco Bezzecchi: 22 starts (2023)

Jorge Lorenzo: 24 starts (2018)

Fabio di Giannantonio: 39 starts (2023)

Francesco Bagnaia: 42 starts (2021)

Jack Miller: 55 starts (2021)

Andrea Iannone: 61 starts (2016)

Johann Zarco: 68 starts (2023)

Danilo Petrucci: 74 starts (2019)

Andrea Dovizioso: 89 starts (2016)

800cc era:

Casey Stoner: 1 start (2007)

990cc era:

Loris Capirossi: 6 starts (2003)

Troy Bayliss: 33 starts (2006)


Nonetheless, Carchedi described Sepang as a ‘perfect’ test venue for the duo in the sense that it’s not a ‘favourable’ track for the rider or crew chief.

“Marc’s said it before, [Valencia] is a track he likes. And it's always been a really good track of mine as well. Diggia did well last year, and I won with Joan [Mir] there,” Carchedi explained.

“I don't think [crew chiefs] are any different to the riders. As a crew chief you also have tracks that work quite well for you and tracks maybe that aren't that great.

“Sepang is probably one of my least favourable, and it's one of Marc's least favourable. It’s almost perfect in that sense. We’ll see where we are.”

In other words, sixth place isn’t at all bad for one of their worst tracks, especially given technical problems on the opening day.

Carchedi’s priorities for the test had been tofix Marc’s riding position and then help him understand the bike more.

“Sometimes you try stuff that doesn't necessarily mean you go quicker, but to understand what it does. Because you might go to another track where you need the change it creates,” he explained.

“So you’re almost experimenting. That’s for Marc’s benefit. I did a bit last year but I've got a year [working with the Ducati] under my belt now, so I understand it better.

“But he'll need to understand how it reacts because something silly like changing 4 millimetres on a swing arm length might feel completely different from one bike [brand] to another.

“It's happened in the past that a rider hasn't wanted to change something specific because of previous experience [on a different bike] and then eventually he's realised that on a different bike it gives a completely different feeling.”

With eight bikes on the grid, Ducati has more data than any other factory. 

Carchedi, who previously worked with MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden as well as Mir and now Marquez, feels it’s more of a benefit for the rider than the crew chief.

“The data is great to have but I will be honest, and everyone is different, but my way has never been to copy another set up, ‘because they've done it, you do it’,” he said.

“Occasionally I'll see the data and go. ‘Hmm, actually that could be beneficial’. But in general, you have your own way.

“It's more probably for the rider to compare some corners where he might be struggling.

“I always try to get the balance of the bike correct and once you've got that, it's my personal way, but then I'll always do the front-end feeling.

“Each bike has its own characteristics, but you have the same principles.

“You always aim for a bike set-up to brake later than anyone else. And it's no different with rear grip and turning.

“I'd say you can't go too far in anything, but I remember in Suzuki we went way too far in the rear grip, we had too much and couldn't qualify!”


“It’s an incredible thing that he’s done”

Reflecting on Marc Marquez’s highly anticipated Ducati debut at Valencia, Carchedi said:

“The last part of last year was absolutely crazy. It felt like a race every week for about three months so you never really got a chance to think about Marc [arriving].

“Then there's such a short time from the last race to the test. But then I turned up to the track, got to the box and it felt like there were 500,000 people waiting outside!

“You’re like ‘Wow! Okay!’ You realise how big a sportsman and personality he is. But then 1.5 hours later, you're down to work and everything else just goes out the window.

“For sure, out of all of us, the biggest change is for Marc. It’s an incredible thing that he’s done.

“I think his smile [after the first run at the Valencia test] was taken a bit out of proportion, I think that was just because of all the pressure leading up to it.

“You get to ride something completely different for the first time. You've no idea how it’s going to react and then it's like just… ‘Breathe. It’s OK. It's a bike.’

“It's going to take a little bit of time. There's a lot of caution from his side as well. But he had a fairly good feeling straight away…”

Frankie Carchedi, MotoGP race, Australian MotoGP, 21 October
Frankie Carchedi, MotoGP race, Australian MotoGP, 21 October

“I went to open a bank account and got a job at GSE Ducati!”

The career path taken by anyone in the MotoGP paddock is always interesting and Frankie Carchedi’s rise to the top of the sport is no exception:

“I studied sport and engineering at Loughborough University. Fortunately, I managed to blag a degree at the end of it!

“But if it wasn't for me walking into a Halifax Bank and meeting Colin Wright's wife - Colin was Ducati [BSB] team manager - I’d probably have been in Formula One.

“I was just opening a bank account, she put me in touch with Colin and I think the next day he asked me to go to Donington with him.

“Troy Bayliss had just finished so my first proper year was with Neil Hodgson when he won in BSB, the famous Neil and Chris Walker Show!

“So a fortuitous start and then my career progressed quite quickly to World Superbikes.

“I got to work with Nori Haga, but in 2005 I wanted to be back in the UK for personal reasons, so I worked with Gregorio Lavilla when he won the British Championship with GSE.

“I stayed there with Shake Byrne, then the Leon Camier year in 2009 - you always pray for a season like that! [19 wins in 26 races]

“Then Maio Meregalli, who is now the Yamaha MotoGP team manager, asked me if I could work with the factory Yamaha team in World Superbike.

“I stayed in World Superbike until 2013, at Crescent Suzuki, which was how I met [future Suzuki MotoGP boss] Sahara-san…

“I got a call from Aspar and Nicky Hayden for 2014, they needed someone to help with electronics for the Open class.

“I’d been asked for a few years by Suzuki and the right moment came when Mir joined the team, so I spent four enjoyable years there.

“When that ended, I’d known Gigi [Dall’Igna] for many, many years and Gresini asked if I was interested in joining them for 2023.

“The Suzuki team was very family orientated and I knew it would be hard to find a team like that again, but Gresini really is as good. It’s an incredible atmosphere.

“And now having the two brothers has only brought the whole thing even closer! It’s an amazing place to be.”

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