5 questions to Manuel Poggiali

5 questions to Manuel Poggiali

Manuel Poggiali is one of the key figures of the Gresini Racing team both in MotoGP and in Moto2, and in MotoE. Since the first edition of the MotoE World Cup in 2019, Poggiali studied the new category closely to improve the results of the Gresini riders. In this interview, he talks about the challenges for 2022 and the arrival of the Ducati MotoE next year.

At eight, he said he wanted to be a motorcyclist; at nine, he was; at 18 he won the world title in 125, at 20 he won the world title in 250 on the first shot. After his experience in the World Championship, his way of remaining in the world of motorcycles led him to get to know Superbike and the Endurance. Lastly, with the new maturity that made him “more rational”, it comes his experience as a “coach” in the Gresini Racing team and his role in the sporting direction of the team from Faenza. “I make available my experience as a former rider to stay on the track and identify everything that can be improved, even with the analysis of the competitors. I think it's a very important job: we collect a huge amount of valuable data."

Manuel, you were involved in the project MotoE from the very beginning; how do you judge the first three years of MotoE?
“Honestly, speaking as a fan as well as an insider, I regretted not seeing the technical level of the bike and the performance on the track increase. I don't know the reasons why there hasn't been an evolution; however, for an important novelty like the MotoE, I would have expected technical innovations year after year. The few innovations we had mainly concerned the components: tires and suspensions.
I have noticed a growing interest in the MotoE by teams, riders, sponsors and even fans; for this it would be necessary to have an evolution of this category which represents big news for motorcycling. The indication of this growing interest is the arrival of Ducati in 2023 as the sole supplier of the championship.”

There will be no technical innovations, but there will still be much news on the 2022 championship formula: seven rounds, fourteen races and the MotoGP-style qualification; what do you think?
“So, it looks like the decisions on MotoE purposely go against my preferences. I liked the EPole a lot because it was a great way to give visibility to all the riders, teams, and sponsors. In the EPole the riders had only one flying lap available and, during the forty minutes in which the qualifying took place, the track conditions could change. However, in a longer championship like this year's, the single episodes weigh less. Error is something that riders have to limit as much as possible, and it is part of the game; riders must learn to manage this aspect as well. The EPole was also technically important: a rider who manages to do only one fast lap, in many cases even faster than the best lap of the previous sessions, and who, at the same time, manages the risk of crashing and starting in the last row, in my opinion, he is showing important skills. With identical bikes, the difference comes entirely from the rider's wrist and head.”

How do the riders ride this bike? Has the riding style remained the same from the first year to today?
“With the evolutions that have affected the suspensions and tires, the riding style of the MotoE has changed. While riding precision and smooth cornering were both important in the first phase, this is no longer true today. Today, several riding styles can be used to go fast on the MotoE. Over the years, the category level has increased significantly, and there has been an alignment in the riders' performance. Last year we saw many riders fight for the top positions, and there were six different winners in the seven rounds. This makes the races more beautiful, exciting and interesting, even though their duration is still a bit short.”

How will the Gresini team line-up be in 2022?
“The 2022 line-up gathers some of the best of the riders who participated in the MotoE in these three years: there have been confirmations by Torres, Ferrari, Aegerter and Granado and the return of Smith, Garzò and Canepa. Our priority was to confirm Matteo Ferrari because of his excellent results over the past three years; the relationship deserved to be continued. In three editions of the MotoE, Matteo made first, second and third in the general standings, an exceptional result. We needed to field a competitive and solid rider from the first race to fight for the win.
Last year Matteo lacked continuity on the track, as he only participated in the MotoE, while all his opponents also did other championships. We must work on this point because it is not enough to do one race a month for more than a few laps; more continuity in competition is needed. This is our priority for Matteo's growth. Ferrari is a very fast rider, but the others are not standing still; if we want to beat them, we have to improve in every respect.
Afterwards, it was decided to focus on a young Italian rider to debut in MotoE. We were careful to choose a figure who could create a good atmosphere within the team together with Ferrari. Therefore, we have chosen Alessio Finello, whose goal for this year will be to gain experience in the championship to aim high in 2023. The main result we expect from Alessio is to learn and gradually improve race after race to get to the end of the season to obtain fair results. It must be a year for him to lay the basis for 2023 ″.

You mentioned the arrival of Ducati in 2023; were you surprised by its direct involvement in MotoE?
“No, it didn't surprise me. I had already heard rumours, and the announcement did not take me by surprise. Today the electric market is attracting many companies. The VW group, which owns Ducati, is investing heavily in the electric, so, understandably, Ducati has moved in the same direction.
Personally, I would have liked a World Competition more in a multi-manufacturer version, but I understand that in a critical moment for cost management, the single-manufacturer solution is more sustainable. Therefore, I expect that it will become possible to open the MotoE to multiple suppliers when the general situation improves.
It will be a great commitment for Ducati; nevertheless, they have such a consolidated experience in motorcycle racing that they will have no problems managing the supply of all eighteen bikes and guaranteeing technical support. On the contrary, I expect Ducati to do it his way, significantly raising the level, as it is also doing in MotoGP.
We observed that interest in the category was growing even before Ducati's announcement, and after that, it increased further. Even if there will be no technical innovations this year, there will be a much richer calendar of races; in practice, it will be almost like a world championship; this will create even more interest in the MotoE. Then I expect a great step with the arrival of Ducati in 2023.″

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