An exclusive interview with Marcel Schrotter, who took his long-awaited first grand prix podium with third at last weekend's Misano Moto2 race...

Crash.net:

You started racing in the world championships in 2008 and after steady improvement you’ve finally got your first podium!

Marcel Schrötter:

I actually started racing way before that when I was only 3-years-old. I was a tiny 3-year-old on a Yamaha PW50.

Everything started then. It came about because I’d been spending a lot of time on race tracks anyway because my father used to do some, let’s say, hobby racing and I was on the edge of that world.

My father also worked as an instructor at some track days so I had a lot of friends around tracks. He got to the stage of racing in the German Superbike championship and our summer breaks we often spent on Spanish race tracks – I spent a lot of time there.

COTA #1 - Hamilton Vs Vettel

Crash.net:

Did you go to Spain to compete in the higher level championships there?

Marcel Schrötter:

After I’d done the various pocket bike and mini bike championships in Germany I was gradually working my way through the levels and once I’d done the IDM 125 series in 2007 I went to the Dorna MotoGP academy. They contacted me and took me on as part of the team for the last three to four races.

When I arrived in Spain, you immediately noticed that the level was a lot higher. In Germany in my first 125 race I finished second behind a world championship rider – I finished top five in my first year. But in Spain you have more than 100 riders in two groups and you have to qualify from amongst them.

The level in Spain was quite a shock in that you have riders from the domestic championships but also from the world championships racing there. There were some people who’d already raced at world level there with good bikes and teams around them – those guys were not easy to beat!

You need that though because it’s fair to say I learned a lot there.

After that year the academy wanted to continue with me but all the people around me were saying that I should go back to Germany so that I could finish school. I went back to finish my middle school so that I could formally finish my education. It meant that I could then do what I wanted and wouldn’t be limited by education commitments.

Crash.net:

Was there ever a plan B to your racing?

Marcel Schrötter:

To be honest, for me it was bikes or bust. I wanted to get my education so that if something did happen I wouldn’t have nowhere to go, but in my heart it was all bikes.

Racing teaches you so much, you get to travel the world, see so many things and also learn practical things. For example I think my English isn’t too bad. I also felt that I had the ability to go far in the sport.

Unfortunately it’s taken a lot of time because of these complications, I always felt that if we’d gone with the academy in 2008 I could have got here faster, but now we’re just about there. It’s just that it was a little harder.

Crash.net:

How were you financing your career, did you have good sponsors?

Marcel Schrötter:

No never, that’s why it was so hard. 2007 was my first year in German championship and it was through knowing some people at HRC that I was able to get the bike to compete there and I had some small local sponsors and also input from my family. Up to that time it had all been family sponsored and we never had enough to get what we wanted.

Later we had some smaller sponsors, 2000 Euros here, 3000 Euros there but it was in 2007 when I started working with Anton Mang that we managed to get the contacts and resources to allow me to get into higher level racing.

Crash.net:

Can you make a living racing at your current level?

Marcel Schrötter:

Now, more or less, yes. I can’t buy what I want or live extravagantly but just about, yes.

In 2010 for example I just had to go from one team to another riding whatever I was given because we didn’t have sufficient funding and I think it was that that resulted in it taking such a long time to get to where we are now.

In 2012/13 there was a pretty competitive team that wanted to let me ride in Moto2 but I had to bring some money and also buy the bike so I couldn’t take opportunities like that.

It was when I met my manager Michael Koreies who was a sponsor from the Interwetten team that things like this started to go better. He organized my test with that team in Valencia in 2013.

Crash.net:

It must be a terrible balance to strike if you are having funding problems as to how hard to ride the bike because crashing could result in damage that can’t be paid for but you still need to show what you can do...

Marcel Schrötter:

You’re not actually thinking ‘Don’t crash, don’t crash’ as you ride along. But it’s always in the back of your mind. I actually destroyed the bike at that test, but Michael believed in me and helped me out there. He’s helped me so much including paying for my living expenses and I don’t think that I could be where I am now without him.

In the last couple of years things have finally got a bit easier.

Crash.net:

Your story seems to be one of steady improvement and you’ve finally vindicated people’s belief in you by getting your first podium.

Marcel Schrötter:

Oh, that felt good.

But in 2014 I had my second season in Moto2 on a Tech 3 and got P10 in the championship so I think the results were also there then. The bike was the same one as the one that Danny and Louis only scored 8 points on and I think I got something like 85 points so that was already pretty good.

I did have some good results but it wasn’t consistent. Teams were always changing which made it so difficult but through this Michael has always supported me so it’s a pleasure now that I am finally making something so that something can go back to him.

Crash.net:

Was there a family party for the podium on Sunday?

Marcel Schrötter:

A small party, yes. It’s something we’ve been waiting for, for such a long time. We had some beers in the box afterwards, finished the champagne had a team dinner and were in bed by 1. Early the next morning I was in the car on my way to Spain for training.

Crash.net:

So not like the Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts days when they wouldn’t have even gone to bed?

Crash.net:

So not like the Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts days when they wouldn’t have even gone to bed?

Marcel Schrötter:

I honestly wish I raced back in those days. I like all the commitments and the training and stuff but sometimes it feels a bit like you’re a machine. It’d be great to break out a little.

The training regime can be pretty hard when you’re alone so it’s always easier when you train with a friend and that’s why it’s great fun now training with my friend Jack [Miller]. You can push each other and have fun as you go. It’s training, but the time goes quickly because it’s also fun.

Really the only proper training you can do is to ride the race bike because even if you do quite a variety of strong training you can still get off the race bike feeling sore because that is the only thing that truly uses those muscles. The braking forces etc on the bike are so high.

Crash.net:

Your experience in Moto2 is interesting because you’ve ridden the Kalex, Tech3 and Suter. Would you say that there is a meaningful difference between the hardware?

Marcel Schrötter:

All of these three did feel very different. I would say that the Suter and Tech3 were closer, but the Kalex is different to the other two in a positive way.

People often say that the Tech3 is not so hot but I had some really great races on it. In pure speed terms the bike wasn’t the fastest because of the aerodynamics but there were tracks where the good points of the bike like the front end allowed me to do well. But the new Dunlop tyre the next year took the front-end advantage away from us so the pluses and minuses are very small.

The Suter was something similar in that it was really hard to understand in the beginning because the balance and drive of the bike are so different but once you understand it, it’s a great bike. One of its strengths was its drive grip, when you picked it up you could really get the drive out of corners. The front was also really strong and solid.

Last year I couldn’t do much with my hand because of injury but P2 in qualifying was possible because of how the Suter worked allowing me to carry speed.

Both of these bikes have good points but the Kalex’ strength is that it’s an all-rounder with few weak points. It’s quite easy to ride in comparison with the others.

The Kalex is also easier to set up than the others and it’s easier to get to a setting which gives confidence. You can take settings which are in the middle of those that the other riders are using and already go quite fast.

Crash.net:

Looking at your results this year, you’ve got far more consistent front running pace – is this from experience or was there something in particular which made the difference?

Marcel Schrötter:

I always knew that I had it in me and just needed the team to give me the opportunity.

Last year it was a little bit difficult on the Suter. In the first tests we weren’t even in the top 20 and everywhere we went we were starting from zero. This year though we have all the information from the other Kalexes. The base setting of the Kalex is just more versatile.

What you are seeing is a good rider with a good team. I don’t need to worry about them understanding what to do, I just come in, tell them what the feeling is and they already know what to do. It gives you confidence.

With my crew chief, I only need to say very few things and he already knows what to do. Sometimes talking less is more.

Crash.net:

Did you tighten up at the end of the Misano race because you knew the podium was possible after all those years?

Marcel Schrötter:

Oh no I was just enjoying it. Things were coming easily and I didn’t have to override the bike. There are always nerves but these were good ones.

I was riding within myself to the end and was going to fight for a result at the end. The fact that me and Miguel were closing on Passini was also positive. He had good points and so did I but he was great on the corner exit which meant that I was always too far away to outbrake him.

In retrospect maybe I should have been more aggressive 3 or 4 laps from the end but this is to do with experience of riding at the front. I think I was faster than him and maybe I should have passed him earlier, pulled away and come second. But a podium is more than OK though – rather a podium than the gravel trap!

Now that I’ve got that, it’s time for a win. I know that Pecco [Bagnaia] is incredibly fast over the first few laps and if I can stay with him for those laps I can be with him at the end, I’m 100% sure of that.

Crash.net:

So you feel that Pecco’s technique is basically to try to destroy everyone at the start of the race with some super fast laps?

Marcel Schrötter:

I think he has been trying to do that over the past few races. OK, in Austria he was fighting to the last corner with Miguel, but that is basically what he was doing and it’s something we need to manage.

Crash.net:

So it seems that your career is in a bit of a virtuous circle at the moment?

Marcel Schrötter:

Sure, but things don’t come all by themselves we are also working hard to get what we do. Off-track the training never stops, the good thing though is that we now have the tools to get the job done and that is a good feeling.