There are few crew chiefs in MotoGP quite as revered as Cristian Gabarrini. And with good reason: the Italian has worked with some of the most successful riders in the history of the sport. After a spell as data engineer for the LCR team in 250s, Gabarrini moved to Ducati to work on electronics. In 2007, he was paired with Casey Stoner after then Ducati team manager Livio Suppo had dropped Sete Gibernau in favor of Casey Stoner.
It was a match made in heaven. The pairing of Gabarrini and Stoner proved a formidable one, Stoner winning his first race on the Ducati Desmosedici GP7, and going on to take the title at the first attempt. Gabarrini moved to Honda with Stoner for the 2011 season, where they repeated the feat, winning the championship that year as well.
After Stoner retired at the end of 2012, Gabarrini stayed on to work with Marc Márquez and his crew chief Santi Hernandez, helping the pair adapt to MotoGP. After a year as an engineer for HRC, we was paired with another Australian, this time working with Jack Miller to help him make the massive jump from Moto3 straight to MotoGP.
At the end of 2016, Gabarrini was tempted back to Ducati to become crew chief to Jorge Lorenzo. The Italian engineer was tasked with helping the five-time champion make one of the biggest steps possible in MotoGP: from the high-corner speed Yamaha, which rewards smoothness and corner speed, to the Ducati, which needs its rider to exploit its braking ability, horsepower, and mechanical grip to extract maximum performance from it.
We spoke to Gabarrini before the first race of the 2018 season at Qatar about this, and many other subjects. From the common thread between world champions to adapting Lorenzo's riding style to the Ducati to the use of carbon fiber in MotoGP.
Q: You've worked with three of the most talented riders in the world – Casey Stoner, Marc Márquez, and Jorge Lorenzo – is there some characteristic which they share which makes them special?
Cristian Gabarrini: The three fastest you mentioned are very different, all three. Of course, one characteristic in common is the talent, but in a very different way. Casey to me was the most instinctive. He already knew where he had to go on the track to put the tire on the track to be fast immediately. On the other side, Jorge is the one that thinks about it more. That doesn't mean that he has less talent, but the talent is built and used in a different way. And Marc can be something in the middle, but for sure that Marc as well has the capability to adapt very very quickly to every kind of situation. I think he has a very fast CPU...
Q: Is there a particular personality trait they share? Intelligence? Ambition? Determination?
CG: Regarding determination, I think all three are at the same level. And again, they can aim it in a different way. Most probably from my experience, but I worked with Marc for just one year, Marc was the most quiet of the three. But regarding determination, for sure all three are the same level. All three are pushing more than 100% every second.
Q: You are a very calm person, and the riders can be very fiery. Casey was very agitated, Jorge the same. Does your character help balance out their character? Is it easier for them to work with you because of that?
CG: I think so, and usually that's what people say to me. But it's not my business to judge this, because we are speaking about myself, and I want to be honest. But for sure, with a completely different character and to be able to always stay calm can help in this situation, because if you start to panic as well, it can be a disaster. It's not super easy, but on the other hand, it's part of my job, so I think this is something normal.
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