The MotoGP ‘rider coach’ who left Gresini just as Marc Marquez was arriving

What does a 'rider coach' do? And why did Manuel Poggiali leave Gresini just as Marc Marquez arrived?

Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March
Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March

Manuel Poggiali left his job as Gresini rider coach, just as Marc Marquez came into the team.

Poggiali gave up the opportunity that many would crave - to oversee Marquez’s debut year on a Ducati.

He has instead moved to the factory Ducati team to act as their rider coach.

Poggiali insists he was not tempted to reject or postpone the call from the factory team in favour of working alongside Marquez.

"Honestly, when the call came - I underline, unexpected, because I was very focused on the work at the time - from Gigi Dall'Igna, who I have known since the days of Aprilia, even without having worked together, someone who I respect, who everyone knows, who has charisma, it was difficult for me not to jump on that train that called me,” Poggiali told Sky.

Poggiali is a two-time world champion as a rider who now holds a little-known role within MotoGP.

He described the job of a rider coach: "In my case, working from the side of the track, I try to see what are the most important critical issues that our riders have and to better understand what is happening.

“In part, you go where they tell you that there are difficulties or interesting things to see.

“A lot also comes from the work you do at home.

“Each rider is different, he has his own history, his own characteristics, his own difficulties and his own strong points.

“On a track where a driver has never won or has always been in difficulty, it will most likely be one of the difficult ones, so I try to observe what happens to try to find advice, ideas, different ideas to improve performance.

“Together we analyse with the support of the whole team and we try to find the solution to optimise everything as much as possible.”

Manuel Poggiali in 2008
Manuel Poggiali in 2008

Poggiali will work alongside Pecco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini this year.

Last season with Gresini, he aided Fabio di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez.

Di Giannantonio, despite losing his bike to Marc Marquez, shone with his late-2023 form.

"Fabio has always had great qualities,” Poggiali said.

“MotoGP is the most difficult and complicated category in the world championship.

“His journey was perhaps a little longer than others, but it's part of the game.

“The first year of MotoGP, apart from very few exceptions, it was difficult for everyone even though he took a pole at Mugello.

“It was a journey that led him to mature, to understand what to do on the track, to manage many things, tyres, asphalts, tracks...

“I wish him success good also with the VR46 team because I am fond of him: he won the first race in Moto3 with me as coach in 2018 in Brno, I was lucky enough to also be alongside him in the first success in Moto2 in Jerez 2021 and last year in MotoGP in Qatar.

“I have followed practically his entire career in the world championship, being his 'track' reference.

“I have a special relationship with him, I wish him the best.”

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