Home Interviews Paolo Simoncelli: Mattia Casadei, my first rider

Paolo Simoncelli: Mattia Casadei, my first rider

Mattia Casadei was the driver in the SIc58 Squadra Corse in MotoE by 2019 to 2023
Mattia Casadei was the rider of the SIc58 Squadra Corse in MotoE from 2019 to 2023 (photo: MotoGP)

Mattia Casadei is the 2023 MotoE World Champion . A few days after winning the world title, we interviewed Paolo Simoncelli, his first team manager, who in 2013 took him from minibikes to the World Championship.

A month ago Mattia Casadei won the MotoE World Championship, celebrating on the home circuit of Misano, under the eyes of Paolo Simoncelli. His adventure in MotoE started five years earlier, when Paolo had made a motorbike available to him in the first season of the MotoGP electric championship.
The relationship between the rider from Rimini and the founder of the Sic58 Squadra Corse had been born years earlier, in 2013. At the time Casadei had completed his training with minibikes, demonstrating great talent but, as Simoncelli told us in this interview, " he still needed to be educated properly, in order to win among the top riders."

Mattia Casadei with the Energica MotoE of the Sic58 Squadra Corse
Mattia Casadei with the Energica MotoE of the Sic58 Squadra Corse (Photo: Sic58 Squadra Corse)

Simonecelli says that "in 2013, on the occasion of the second Happy Birthday Sic, we presented the Sic58 Squadra Corse which was created that year precisely for Mattia to race. I already knew him a little because I followed Minibikes, but Aldo Drudi introduced him to me and pushed me to create a team around this young rider who was very strong on Minibikes.
The first impression was good, you could immediately see that Mattia was a good guy and he was really fast on the Minibikes: he started the race, left everyone behind, crashed, got up, started again and won."
However, Simoncelli saw this way of racing as the main obstacle that Casadei would have to face in the following years. “At first, everyone says, well done, you're going strong, you're a talent rider. But it's not good. If you ride racing bikes like that, you fall and you're out. When he moved from minibikes to race with us in both the CIV and CEV, he did a lot of damage, always for the same problem. Racing like that, he threw away a lot of races he had already won. This has been his limitation from the beginning and he has carried it with him to this day. I believe that by winning the world championship he has freed himself of this great burden."

For the victory of the World Champion title there was no shortage of celebrations with the former teammates of the Sic58 Squadra Corse
For the victory of the World Champion title there was no shortage of celebrations with the former teammates of the Sic58 Squadra Corse

“The first time he fell with a MotoE, it was in 2019 and it caused me 65.000 euros of damage. Among other things, that was the opportunity to discuss with Dorna how to manage damages to the battery in the event of a crash because it is the most expensive component in MotoE. In the end we agreed that the costs of the battery would be borne by Dorna and not by the teams, and this remains the case today. Racing is like that; this year Rossi completely destroyed a Moto3, it cost me 100.000 euros to make it new, but it's part of the game, if it doesn't suit you, you don't race.
However, with Mattia this happened a little too often and it wasn't good, especially for him because it ruined some great results; he needed to be re-educated, sportingly speaking. However, he has a will and abilities that have finally come to the fore."

“When the MotoE was set, Carmelo Ezpeleta told me that he could give me a motorbike if I decided to participate in the championship. I was evaluating the proposal and I was in Aragon, in the apartment we had rented with Marco Grana, the technical director of the team, because there are no hotels there, and while we were deciding together whether or not to participate in the MotoE Championship, the electric razor that was in the bathroom turned on by itself. We looked at each other and it was crazy, incredible, we took it as a sign for yes.
At that point, we as Sic58 Squadra Corse had a slot available, but I had to find a rider. At that time Mattia was racing the 600 in the Italian Championship, so we thought he was the right one to put on a MotoE; it was a good idea. He started as the youngest rider of 2019 and then continued to improve.
That year, in 2019, I said that if the MotoE was the future, I didn't like it. The first year, part of the lineup was made up of riders at the end of their careers or who had returned to racing, such as Gibernau or De Puniet, riders who probably thought that the MotoE could have been a game; it was a scary revival. When they realized that this wasn't the case, there was space for fast guys who really twist the throtte, now it's a real category that prepares well for moving to Moto2. It's a great championship that grows and grows well every year."

MotoE World Championship
The calendar of the MotoE 2024

“After the first three years with us, Casadei went to race with Sito Pons' team because at that point he had become a strong rider who was attractive to other teams. Pons made him an excellent offer and when Mattia received it he came to my house desperate, he was crying, I remember that evening as if it were now. He expected an answer from me and it could only be yes, he had to accept, roads move forward.
Over time Casadei has become a really strong rider, master of the situation, he reads the races, he is twice as strong as he was in the first years in MotoE. Before, when he had to get an important result he ended up making mistakes and this weighed on him a lot. On the starting grid, before the start of the Misano race in which he won the World Championship, I went to him and hugged him and I felt that he was shaking. He had this block in his head, he knew he had to overcome it and he finally succeeded. This year he not only won the World Championship but he also overcame this obstacle and I am sure that from now on we will see an even stronger Mattia.”

Mattia Casadei's celebratory helmet for the 2023 MotoE World Title
Mattia Casadei's celebratory helmet for the 2023 MotoE World Title

“Now that he is the World Champion there are teams that want him, both in MotoE than in Moto2. I advised him to stay another year in MotoE and to run the season as reigning champion, but then he will see, this was just my advice. I know that Mattia dreams of moving to Moto2 and perhaps the change from Dunlop to Pirelli next year could help him. The Pirelli tyres give a better support on the front, which Mattia really likes. However in the end he will decide, I gave him my advice. When you have something at your fingertips it's difficult to say no, especially these days: one year you're the champion and the next year if you don't win you're nobody anymore, today everyone is in a hurry."

Post interview note – Starting from the Japanese GP, Mattia Casadei is participating in the Moto2 World Championship with the Fantic Racing team until the end of the 2023 season.

MotoE World Championship
The standings of the 2023 championship

Photos: MotoGP

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