Francesco Guidotti: The glue to keep KTM 'together'

New factory KTM MotoGP team manager Francesco Guidotti hired 'to keep everybody together… to have the right atmosphere, to be focused on the race'.
Francesco Guidotti: The glue to keep KTM 'together'

KTM sprang a post-season surprise by hiring Francesco Guidotti as its new factory MotoGP team manager in place of Mike Leitner, who had helped set-up and then run the Austrian project.

Guidotti previously worked for KTM in the smaller classes but is best known for running the satellite Pramac Ducati team, which took its first win (with Jorge Martin) last season and a best-yet fifth in the world championship (with Johann Zarco).

During his first public appearance in the new role Guidotti explained what KTM, which won two races last season but slipped back from the standards set in 2020, is expecting from him.

"They clearly asked me to try to keep everybody together," Guidotti said. "It's a huge group, more than 40 people, and we have to give the maximum support to the two riders, and help the Tech3 team to grow up the two rookies.

"So it's a huge project and they need someone that keeps everybody together. We travel a lot, everybody has their own problems at home, or personal problems, and under pressure these kind of matters can get bigger and bigger.

"[They need] one person who tries to keep everybody calm and comfortable, to have the right atmosphere to be focused on the race, on the practice, keep the riders focused on their targets and goals. It's important. And I'm here for that, mainly.

"I'm not a technician," Guidotti made clear. "I have some experience in the past as a mechanic, but my real professional career started on the sporting side. I can't bring any experience from the technical side from the last 10 years [at Ducati], I can only bring my personal experience to try to make the step that KTM are missing.

"But it's not even to correct to say 'missing' because the last five years they made a huge step that nobody else did in history, we can say. I just have to do my job, give my support to this project with my experience.

"[I'll be a] sporting manager, let's say. In the past, a team was maybe four people, including the rider. So it was easy to keep everything together. Now we are ten times more, and we need to have someone that manages these kinds of matters.

"Of course, I have not only the human side but also the sporting side of road racing, so this is like a sporting manager, not only a psychologist!"

If Guidotti's skills in running the human side of a team were the attraction for KTM, what motivated the Italian to accept the move?

"It's difficult to explain. Because I left something that I made a big contribution to develop and grow, so it was a very hard decision to make. But going back to a factory team is something special," Guidotti explained.

"Working in a factory for a person like me, who is very passionate about bikes and motorsport in general, is completely another atmosphere, more involved in the technical development, more involved in all the departments that go to define the final point that is the race track.

"I didn't leave Pramac because there was something wrong, but from my personal point of view, this is a new professional challenge, and of course the human side is still there with the guys I left. But from the professional side it's something really special.

"Before Pramac I was always involved in factory teams, Aprilia, KTM, so going back to a factory team is something that somehow I was missing and this is the best opportunity I could have."

Guidotti said his first impressions were that the way KTM and Ducati work is "completely different", not a surprise given the contrast in their MotoGP experience.

"Ducati has been involved in this sport for more than 20 years, and KTM only 5 years," he said. "So that can give you the size of the difference. But KTM was really aggressive on their project in MotoGP, they had fantastic results.

"So I think this change, also Fabiano [Sterlacchini] joining [from Ducati] to lead the technical direction was really important, to have coordination between all the departments.

"I think it's the time to try to make something better. They've been great until now, and we have to go ahead in this level."

The 49-year-old emphasised that his intention is not to fire and hire, but to better co-ordinate the people already working at KTM.

"I found a great group, we spent some days together on the building of the bike in Mattighofen. To be honest, I didn't go there with the intention to make some changes, this is not the way I would act.

"They are a very great team all together. I found a lot of technicians very motivated upstairs in their technical offices. There's nothing to change. There's something to coordinate better, with a little bit more organisation.

"There's a lot of great people in the right places, let's just push everybody together in the same direction, and I'm sure that soon we will have very good results."

Guidotti is also ready to adapt his own way of working to fit with the KTM culture.

"I'm 100% sure there's the right people in the right positions, just a bit better coordination and a bit better technical support from the factory with Fabiano and all the guys there.

"I didn't spend one day at the track yet, so maybe I have to more adapt my way of working to this group instead of pushing to adapt their way of working to my style. It's two different histories, but KTM is the main history, it's the priority.

"I'm working for KTM, I'm not working for myself. The target has to be the KTM target, and I have to give my support, I have to bring my experience to push all the group to the KTM target using the KTM experience."

Although KTM is proud of supporting the satellite Tech3 team with factory-spec machinery, and insists it has four factory riders, Guidotti's focus will be on the Official team.

"For sure the priority is the factory team and to get the best out of the two factory riders," he said. "But it doesn't mean you can forget everything else.

"Of course, when you have to do a lot of things, you have to give priorities, and KTM's priority is to achieve the best from the factory team as soon as possible. So this is the priority."

The Red Bull team will field race winners Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira for the second successive season, while Tech3 debuts an all-new line-up of Moto2 stars Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez.

"At the moment we have maybe the best line-up possible," Guidotti said. "We have two experienced riders in the factory team and two rookies coming from a very exciting season. So it will be exciting. A lot of different personalities and characters, but it will be nice to have them and try to put everything together."

Guidotti's first event in charge of the KTM race team is the upcoming Sepang test, preparations for which have already been complicated by some pre-flight "covid problems".

"I really can't wait to be at the test in Sepang, even if it will be really hard to go there in this [restricted] situation," he aid. "And we already had to face some Covid problems, some positive cases for heading to Sepang, so it's already getting more difficult than expected.

"So OK, we will face this problem and try to be at 100% for the Official tests to support our riders.

"Once you get in this job in this moment, you know you have to face some problems [Covid checks and restrictions] that two or three years ago you couldn't even think about. So it's just more pressure to this fantastic work."

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