The first 14 GPs between the highs and lows of a team Alessandro Tonucci. Remember, the MTA team makes their Moto3 World Championship debut, with rookie Evan Ortola and more experienced Stefano Nypa. But things are changing, his men are getting closer and closer to the podium. Tonucci is pushing his pilots, making sure he can get to him before the end of the year. Then in Aragon there will be cooperation with a Every team is pink, a project led by Angelos and with Maria Herrera as pilot. This and much more in our pre-GP interview at MotorLand.
What do you assess for the 2022 season so far?
We started very well: in the first race, Evan was very fast, finishing seventh and first. For more than half of the race the platform positions were played. Since then, there have been some difficulties with both riders, but despite everything in the last few races, we have both finished either in the points or in the top ten. There is also a Top 5 with Stefano in England, a race in which Evan was also in front, before colliding on the last lap. Even today I say I am satisfied, even if I am not very happy. Of course, as we get older, it would be nice between now and the end of the season to get on the podium with at least one of the contestants. Realistically within our reach. Given that it is possible but it does not arrive, there remains a bit of bitterness of course, but there are still a few races left to succeed. Then with Evan we also aim to have the best player of the year, it will be a rookie team with an amazing best rookie.
Do you think each of your drivers is able to get on the podium?
Yes, both. Stefano has a bit more experience and it shows in every session, while Evan goes out more in the race, but both have really shown they can do it. To say we will now have more difficult tracks…but for some races, in all the transformations Stefano was showing in the top five, even if he never made good qualifying and it became difficult with the current level in Moto3, for me it is the highest since The existence of this category.
What has been missing in the race so far?
With Ivan the qualification was missing. Of course, Pedro Acosta started from the garage and won…or let’s talk about Marquez, one of those few who makes the difference. Evan is a huge talent for me, although he has come back on several occasions he has already shown good things. At Silverstone he started in 18th and on the penultimate lap he was at the start, at Misano he started in 26th and finished eighth. Many responses, but it must be said that in this way it becomes difficult to get the rubber to attack in the end. However, in qualifying, he panics, he never knows if he has to follow someone, gets into a crisis due to awakening or lack of awake speech and time is short. Let’s talk about a quarter of an hour: a penalty for everyone and I personally don’t like qualifications like that.
How about Stefano Nepa instead?
He is getting better in racing, but compared to his rivals he is “very nice”. When he’s in the frontal areas he doesn’t give it up in the end but suffers from it. Let me give you an example: Muñoz is very strong because he is talented, and also because he closes his eyes. Either he goes to the ground, or he throws another, but he tries and ends up in the front. Here, Stefano lacks a bit of aggressiveness in those moments of the race, especially at the end. In Misano he had a great race, but in the second set precisely because Muñoz kicked him out in the first corner and he lost the train. However, in terms of speed, it was the same group that was in front, alone, without a stream, was in seventh place. Muñoz arrived on the last lap and knocked him out, so he finished 10th. This means that every time, if anyone has to take it, this is it. I’m not saying it’s wrong, because I like clean drivers, but in the current class it takes more naivety. It’s a very subjective thing: Stefano understands a little more, but has no temper. It will have a limit, but I prefer it. For example, I really like Muñoz as a driver, I know him well from the Talent Cup, but he is also off limits and in fact he has been punished many times.
Could it also be the feel issue with the bike for the Nipa after the initial issues of adapting the new KTM?
In the last four races, everything is almost 100% resolved. Previously there were difficulties for the rider, but for us also with this different bike, it took us a while to find the right place. To date, drivers no longer complain as before. Obviously there is still work to be done in terms of fine-tuning, but we’re talking about the finer details. For now, I’d say it’s not an introductory rhetoric for finding that step forward, but rather a “jumping in” rhetoric. Of course the saying is simple, so it is not immediate.
In this category, it is a matter of tenths, or even less.
I understand them by seeing the races and everything. Double the top ten in Misano, not a bad result but not a good one either. They had a good race, went fast, but finished eighth and tenth. In the race, on average we now take one and a half tenths per lap compared to the first. There is a little talk, but what we need is a little.
Work will continue with both, remaining in 2023. Was that the goal or were you looking around?
Continuity was my goal. Like we did with Evan from CEV to World Championships, we were now aiming to spend at least two years with the same rider. In my experience, but also looking at the strongest, it’s true. Obviously, if we’re almost halfway through the season with the team arguing with the driver, the driver can’t wait to leave, and the results aren’t there… then it just wouldn’t make sense. Instead, as an environment, we’re all in pretty good shape and the results are getting better, and we’re growing. So that was the most logical thing to do and I was glad the riders wanted it too, the choice depends on them too. It is very satisfying from a human and personal side: all this should also lead to a mathematical result, but as an introduction it is certainly satisfying.
How were the two GPs at home in particular in your new role?
Too hard, too full! In addition to the athletic aspect, there are many other things to manage. Guests, the events we organized with some partners to promote Italian food around the world… Beautiful, but definitely stressful! [risata] It is already difficult to follow the team from the sports side, which is the main thing, and then on the other side it is just as important. Who supports us, who comes in, and then treats everyone a certain way to make them feel good. Commitment triples compared to normal.
In Misano, you also had JuniorGP kids.
Really… Fortunately I’ve been going home to sleep in the evening since I’ve become close, so I’ve been taking a rest! But it was complicated. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well, but even there we plan to renew both for next year.
What is your assessment of the tournament so far?
It’s not going as I expected. From the Zurutuza I was expecting a little more instantaneous speed, even if it didn’t go badly. Maybe, Ortola used to last year…but Zorotoza played the Talent Cup title, I was expecting him to arrive and shine more right away. But here’s the first year and it’s not all the same: In my opinion, he has important speed, but he has to develop it on this bike. Kotaro [Uchiumi] Same story: Year One in Moto3, a different level than Zurutuza, and thus with his times to metabolize everything. That is why we will give him a second year and then we will establish. So far I haven’t been disappointed, as they are both beginners, but I was expecting better results.
Also in Aragon you will have a double commitment.
We have supported Angeluss project since the beginning, he is our main supporter. Not just a business partner, but there is also a long-term planning problem. In Aragon, the female discourse is fully formed, that is, the technical team and the driver. It will be difficult, but Aurora is there [Angelucci] On top of this project they feel strong. They believe in that, they are investing a lot of resources and important projects that I think will be announced at the end of the year. We believed it right away, and then when I was racing in Moto3, there were both Carrasco and Herrera, and I think the women in the sport can do very well. But a long-term project must be undertaken, as is the case for males: start on a small scale and make them grow with a program of continuity and progression, raising level pilots. Now it will be a big thing in the media.
Wild Pink Card with Maria Herrera and your team as technical support.
It should be remembered that Maria did not ride this bike for many years. We did a test in Aragon a month ago, and it wasn’t bad, but it’s a very different bike than the 260kg Moto E. Small bike in comparison! I think among the other riders it will be better than it did in the test: it’s easier, more references are taken…let’s see what comes out. From our side there will be maximum support from our entire structure. However, they are experienced girls, who are in the JuniorGP and out of Monlau, like most of the young mechanics also in attendance at the World Championships. Of course, times are different compared to JuniorGP, but I don’t see any major issues. We train all technical parts, and therefore our trucks, motorcycles, spare parts and, if necessary, our technicians as well. The chest will be next to ours but separate, in 100% Angelus colors.
How do you see Herrera’s return to Moto3?
I’m realistic: if he can stay in the group where Carrasco, Whately, Sora usually are, that would be a really nice return. We can’t say we expect who knows what after 7 years of not riding a Moto3, used to the MotoE and 600, and with only a day of testing… It’ll be like if I’m back today, I’d like to wind up in the past! So many years without riding that bike and the current level, it’s complicated. The goal is to score points, but we’re really struggling because we’re running all year round. Sports reality tells us that if he could fight for positions in that small group of 4-5 drivers, that would be a good thing indeed. We’re all curious anyway.
What do you expect from your pilots in Aragon instead?
Stefano had a great race last year and was always close to the podium. I hope he will be able to play it to the end, and I see the growth and the potential. Evan won a race in the Junior Cup, at CEV last year the race was played to the last corner. I’m not out of balance, but we can have fun. Of course, with that said, we can at least stay in the top five, and then let’s see if everything works as it should… Seven races ago I would never have said we could aim for the podium, if we finished in the top 10. It was already a victory. I was a little more frustrated at the time. But so far, the focus has moved to a slightly higher level.
Then touching races overseas, even the most experienced teams haven’t seen those episodes in years. Could you be of any help?
Especially on the racetracks in Japan and Australia, in terms of the characteristics of the tracks and the driving of the drivers, we can do a very good job. In my opinion they are compatible. Thailand, on the other hand, I don’t know, I’ve never walked there, and in Malaysia the path is a bit tricky. Out of the four, I already see two quite well. However, it must be said that even when we reached new paths, we did not encounter great difficulties. We have a good base and the references are there, as well as the settings that KTM gives us. But I like to travel outside Europe: there is another environment, more focus, less distractions.
With Ortolá, you’re striving for the best starter of the year, a nipa instead How could you end up?
The primary goal is to create a platform. He practically pursued him for a year, and then for one reason or another he did not succeed in this. From that moment in my opinion you will open more. He’s a very sensitive rider: very powerful, but if everything doesn’t go right at him, he’s in little trouble. If he manages to take that step, he will still unlock something, and from now until the last race he can deliver surprises. At the moment it is important to have one performance, to have a good race and to be seen, and then start again next year to play something important from the beginning.
Prediction: Who will win the World Cup?
In my opinion, Guevara. He was the most consistent, as well as the attitude in the test: start alone, lead times alone, any time, others with 100 paths struggle to make it. In the race, he always runs well, you see him driving solemnly. Foggia is also strong, but if you put them in a tie or in a melee, Guevara is the best. I see Garcia in a little bit more difficulty then maybe the choice, but four races he’s always behind in qualifying and qualifying. Then in Misano…not so good when you’re playing a title. So far, I don’t see him as tyrannical as Guevara.