Insider Look: Marquez 125cc MotoGP Team
Estoril 125cc MotoGP
These are the details that set the good apart from the best. Fractions of a second, those that separate defeats from wins. Delivery, passion and solidarity are the ingredients which turn failures into achievements.
And when, last Sunday at Estoril for the Portugal 125cc MotoGP, Marc Marquez fell on the way to the grid, his work and aspirations for the World Championship title came crashing down in a moment like a house of cards.
However, in a few frenetic minutes in front of the Repsol pit-box, a group of mechanics performed a heroic act of rebuilding his 125cc motorcycle and returning him to the start line to defend his lead.
Amongst the confusion around a race interrupted by rain, the inherent nerves at the start of a Motorcycle World Championship race and the tension of having a 125cc title at stake, the image of Marc Marquez clinging onto the handlebars of his blue and orange Derbi, rolling across the floor of Estoril moments before the start of the event, left everyone witnessing the scene on television in astonishment.
With the fairing hanging off, his 125cc motorcycle’s exhaust destroyed, Marquez returned to the pit-boxes to make any possible repairs to enable him to start the race and fight for vital 125cc Championship points.
In that moment, the whole of the Repsol rider’s team, his teammate’s mechanics and also some mechanics from other competitors, went to work on Marquez small Derbi 125cc while he, alongside Emilio Alzamora, tried to calm down inside the pit-box.
Aki Ajo – Repsol 125cc team owner and manager and chief mechanic – Patrick – Marc´s telemetry engineer -, Purkke and Tomás – Marc´s mechanics -, Guille – trainee mechanic -, Stephan, Paolo and Guille – Sandro Cortese’s telemetry engineer and mechanics, and another three mechanics from Alex Debón’s team and, also one from Antonio Banderas’s team went to work on the shattered pieces of the Debi RSA which has given them so many successes this season, fixing the clutch and brake levers, fairings, rear cowling and exhaust in less than three seemingly endless minutes.
Finally the 125cc Derbi with its number 93 on the front was rebuilt by the skillful hands of the Ajo Motorsport team and Marquez could head for the pit lane exit to join the World Championship pack to start the warm up lap.
The passion and love for this Cervera (Lleida) boy, only 17-years old, had conspired to give him a second chance. The unity of a family who came together at the beginning of the year in Finland when the Repsol rider travelled to the 125cc team headquarters to meet his new colleagues for this long journey, to ride ice bikes and, above all share fun times with Aki Ajo and the rest of the team, forging a complicity and confidence that has allowed the Repsol rider to grow race after race, by leaps and bounds.
Two people from Finland, one from Germany and two from Spain made up the small 125cc team which have supported Marc Marquez throughout what is proving to be an intense season.
Repsol 125cc Team
Aki Ajo (Repsol 125cc Team Manager)
Ten-time Finnish ice bike Champion and sometime World Championship rider, Aki Ajo set up his own team in 1997 and, in 2002, embarked on the Continental Circus with a diamond in the rough, Mika Kallio, who became runner-up two years running. In 2008 he took French rider Mike Di Meglio to the World Championship title and, this season, at 42 years old, he crossed paths with Marc Marquez.
Aki Ajo says: “It’s been great to get to know and work with Marc because such a talented rider, with such a drive to learn doesn’t come along every year. Also, despite only being seventeen years old, he gives the impression of being much older by the maturity of his thinking and reasoning. Being such a special young man you have to remember that he is also a very young rider.”
Emilio Alzamora (Respol 125cc Manager)
Born in Lleida in May 1973, Emilio Alzamora became one of the most spectacular braking riders of the 125cc category from the mid to the end of the nineties. His skills rewarded him in the ’99 season, the year in which he won the 125cc World Championships. After retiring in 2003, he went on to working with new talent in the world of two wheels and two years ago returned to the World Championships, this time at the side of Marc Marquez.
Emilio Alzamora says: “Our expectations at the start of this season were of course not these results. For me, what Marc has done is too much. So many wins and so many poles has made him the one to beat in the category, the bar by which the others measure themselves and, in part that has been due to the great job Aki Ajo and his team have done. Unfortunately, we have not been lucky but, for me, win or not, he has already proved what he needed to prove.”
Patrick Unger (Repsol 125cc Telemetry)
Speed rider for many years, this 28 year-old German was runner-up in Germany in 2004 in the 125cc category, a result which allowed him to compete as a wild-card on 5 occasions at Sachenring. Methodical and analytical, his interest in telemetry led him in 2008 to make his debut as telemetry engineer for Stephen Bradl, before meeting the Repsol rider Marc Márquez this season.
Patrick Unger says: “I’m really enjoying this season which is going perfectly. I’m very impressed by the way Marc works; at only 17 he’s always interested to see what happened on track and be clear on what needs to be done at all times. He prepares each race meticulously, training, asking questions, discussing how to improve. His energy motivates the whole team and they work even harder.”
Jorma Saarinen “Purkke” (Repsol 125cc Mechanic)
The chief mechanic of the Ajo Motorsport team, ‘Purkke’, is a 47 year old Finn who worked in the Finnish, European and also in the Spanish Speed Championships. In love with motorbikes and his job, he joined the team in 2002 and since then has worked with riders such as Koyama, Cortese and Mike Di Meglio, with whom he was World Champion two years ago.
Jorma Saarinen “Purkke” says: “I feel privileged to be working with Marc. The thing I like most about him is that he is a completely normal young guy; he’s not ‘starry” despite having such an impressive season and there aren’t many riders like him. He’s not just the team rider, he’s one of us. He always wants everything to be perfect, even if we are working and the box needs clearing up, he doesn’t have a problem doing it without being asked. He enjoys what he’s doing without thinking about the money or being special.”
Tomas Foncea (Repsol 125cc Mechanic)
At 29-years old, this is his seventh season as mechanic and truck driver in the World Championships, after starting out in the Spanish Speed Championships and the European Championships with Álvaro Molina. He started as a mechanic for Alex Barros in the Honda Pons team and has also worked with Bradley Smith and Tito Rabat in 125s and with Julián Simón in 250ccs. Last season he joined the Ajo Motorsport team.
Tomas Foncea says: “This is a fantastic experience because winning so many races in one season and being at the same level as riders such as ‘Aspar’ or Rossi is something that I don’t think will happen again in my whole career as a mechanic. To work with Marc has been very easy because we always get on well, there are never problems when it comes to setting up the bike, he always appreciates our work and to see him later on the track is a great reward.”