Alberto Puig has a remarkable knack for identifying talent. Since a leg injury forced him into retirement, the former Spanish Grand Prix winner has been deeply involved with the search for young racing talent, in Spain and beyond. His list of successes is vast: Puig is famous as the man who discovered Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Toni Elias, Bradley Smith, and many others.
Because of these successes, he has often been called to lead projects searching for talented young riders. He started with Movistar, then worked with Dorna to set up the MotoGP Academy, which became the Red Bull Rookies Cup. He has worked and advised on the Asia Talent Cup series, and is now involved in setting up the British Talent Cup.
How does Puig do it? What qualities is he looking for when he evaluates young riders, trying to assess whether they will be a success or not? And is there a rider where he got that assessment wrong? At the launch of the British Talent Cup back in February, I quizzed Puig on his secrets. He joked off my statement that he was one of the best at identifying young talent. "Maybe I'm lucky!" he laughed. But I persisted, and Puig explained what he was looking for in young riders in a fascinating conversation.
Q: It might be luck considered luck if you had only found Dani Pedrosa, but there are so many riders....
Alberto Puig: I don't know. I think you have to be at the right place at the right time with all this. And then to have the chance to see riders. And this we do. We do this. So yes, you have to try be there.
Q: But is it a physical characteristic you are looking for, or a mental characteristic?
AP: It's mental and skill. Because to be a motorcycle racer, to ride a bike fast, you need skill, you need art. To run 100 meter race, you need to be a physical machine. To ride a bike super fast, you have to have the art of it.
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