Pramac Racing is one of many Italian teams in the MotoGP paddock. Owned by Paolo Campinoti, but managed by the charismatic Francesco Guidotti, son of a rider scout and the brother of Giacomo Guidotti, crew chief of LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami. From his home in Pesaro, Italy, Guidotti has to manage the satellite Ducati team’s next steps, unable to enter Qatar, as the Gulf state has barred entry to everyone from Italy.
But he still has to deal with problems presented by the disruption at the start of the season. And almost 24 hours after the Qatar race for the top class was canceled, Guidotti still has a lot of questions as yet unanswered.
“I really don't know," Guidotti said. "We have never been in a situation like this and we don't know yet how much we are going to get from this situation, It all needs to be figured out, as a situation like that has never happened before. We have a big question mark, a race that was completely canceled that has never happened to us. We started the weekend, ran practice and qualifying, we did qualifying but then missed the race. But like this without even going, without getting there, this has never happened to me so I have no experience."
"It happened a few years ago with Fukushima [ The 2011 Japanese round was postponed following the April 2011 Fukushima earthquake which caused severe damage in the area], but I was in World Superbikes at the time. I don't know how it was managed, but the race was postponed, and it was something somehow planned to go not there. It wasn't 2 days before when everybody was ready to travel. It's something to discuss and understand.”
Pramac has had its share of problems with sponsors, just like any other satellite team. A situation like this is worrying, but not as much as it might be for a factory team. Guidotti only has his own team to deal with. “When you are small, the size makes it easier but in some things it can be much more difficult¸" he said. "But at the moment I am not thinking about what we are missing, but more about when we could start. Because this is what's important, you have to understand when it would be the right moment to go back to racing”.
Apart from Jack Miller, the Pramac team are composed almost entirely of Italians, from hospitality, Ducati staff, management and crew. “Most of us are Italian, but we also have Spanish guys, so it makes things much easier as they can go down there [to Qatar] to pack the freight," Guidotti explained. "Jack, I think is planning to go to Australia for the next two, three weeks because it's completely useless for him to stay in Andorra. It was snowing there yesterday, so in regards to training there is no use to be there for more than a few days. To stay there for three more weeks makes no sense. He is planning to go back tomorrow. Pecco will stay in Italy and continue his training program. He is not allowed to travel anywhere anyway”.
Guidotti completely understands the situation, and believes the decision to cancel and postpone was absolutely the right one. “It looks like a joke, but I think it's something more serious because also F1 will be affected by this situation, and the general economy for sure, so it's a tricky moment. I think when the summer or spring time comes, when usually the flu disappears, this year hopefully this will also disappear and traveling will be easier. This is the start of the season more or less, so not to start is very strange”.
Disappointment and frustration
Guidotti is always very sensitive and connected to his team members and riders. He spoke to both riders to break the news, when it was clear both Bagnaia and Miller were very ready both physical and mentally for the season. “For sure the first moment there was disappointment," Guidotti said. "They were really disappointed and they did not really understand, but after a few minutes they realized they had to accept this situation and look not only at our little back yard, but look at the general position of everybody and the risk to be affected or not. I think at the moment nobody really understands how dangerous it is”.
It is clear that Guidotti is not really pleased that Italy is bearing the brunt of the blame for the unfortunate situation “Italy started to run tests really early on, and the results are public. In Holland or the UK, they started to make checks on a limited number of citizens, but the results are not public so this is strange, it's not fair. We live in this world all together, and the correct way is to have it all public and to know exactly the condition in each country. Like in Thailand, or for example in the US, where a check costs a few thousand dollars. Who goes to be checked if it costs $3000? Nobody!” He exclaimed.
“In Italy it's public and it looks like we are the enemy, but the general condition is more important than our specific loss but for sure we are really motivated to come back to race as soon as possible”.
MotoE the next focus
Even though it might seem like canceling the race means he has a month with nothing to do, Guidotti's agenda is full. Pramac is also running a MotoE team with Alex De Angelis and Josh Hook.
“I will be busy also with MotoE, so I won't really be without work. This kind of situation sometimes makes it busier for us, because for example, yesterday I spent all day, more than a normal work day, working, and it will probably be like that in the next few days when my guys will be at the track," Guidotti explained.
Working hard just to stay where they are
The cancellation and postponement has generated more work, not less, the Pramac manager said. "For sure it will be a busy time and for the next week we will be forced somehow to work more than normal, because we have to reschedule and replan everything. What we did in October and November is completely useless. We have to speak with sponsors to keep everything as it is, or try to keep everything under control."
It was work that meant running just to try to stand still, Guidotti explained. "It's time that you spend just to keep everything calm, but it's not work to try to have something extra and improve but just to, if you're lucky, have the same as you planned initially. It's for sure not an easy time."
With MotoGP at a standstill for the moment, Guidotti was turning his attention to MotoE. "I will try to be more focused on MotoE in the following month, as we have a test in Jerez next week and another one at the beginning of April. So it's something to do and at the moment there are no restrictions. For sure there will be moments with nothing to do, but once everything will start we will have double the work to do”.
One thing he will not do is work on future contracts with riders. “If we don't race, it's difficult to speak about contracts for next year," Guidotti said. "There will be a time with extra work to try to keep everything normal. It's a strange moment. It already is right now and it will continue to be at least until we can come back to racing." The Pramac boss thinks that moment will come at Austin, at the beginning of April. "I think we will start in the U.S. I hope so. I Don't know if it's more hope or naivety, but I think it will be possible”.
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