2011 World Superbike
Dealing with pain from a cyst in between two of his toes in his right foot, Alstare Suzuki’s Michel Fabrizio went on to finish fourth in both World Superbike races at Brno last weekend. The sole Suzuki rider on the 2011 WSBK circuit is a competitive racer, and his current crew chief Sebastien Delhaye enjoys that.
Following is a blog from the Belgian Delhaye. The 34-year old has worked for Alstare since 2000 and it is the only job he’s had in motorcycle sport.
Sebastien Delhaye says: "My job title is crew chief for Michel Fabrizio but, like many jobs in our business, it’s a simple title for a job that’s not always simple. Before I joined Alstare in 2000, I had worked on cars and bikes and before that I was a student. I have always been a big fan of motorcycle racing and I’ve always been a fan of Alstare – especially as they are not far from my home. It was my dream to work for them and I’m lucky because my dream came true.
"I really enjoy working with Michel because he is a very competitive, hard rider and he gives everything on the track. He is good at giving feedback, but our team suffers a little because we only have one rider. With two riders in the garage, you get more information and the progress is quicker. Data can be shared and we can have more discussions about which directions to try. I also like working with Michel because he’s a funny guy and sometimes you need a bit of fun when everything gets too serious.
"During a race weekend, I probably put in about eleven to twelve hours a day at the track and back at the workshops the whole day, so time off is precious. But, as it is something I enjoy doing, I don’t mind the long hours.
"Alstare has always had many Italians in the team, so I started learning Italian the year I joined. And it’s good that I did because Italian is the only language that Michel spoke when he was first with us and it’s quicker and easier to speak to him in Italian now, than try any other language.
"We seem to have a bit of a problem in Superpole at the moment and maybe sometimes we have not managed the qualifying tyres as well as we could have. Part of this is because during the weekend we try and get the best possible race set-up instead of chasing a good set-up for just Superpole. If we could do better Superpoles, I’m sure we’d get more podiums, but it’s difficult for Michel when he has to start from the third or fourth rows of the grid. But Michel has very good race pace and you can see that he’s a real fighter. For me, I’d like to go back to old 1-lap Superpole format. I think that would suit everybody better.
"The worst part of my job is when the results are no good. The best parts are when we, as a team, make the right decisions and it all works out well. But the best part is when we get a podium or a victory. I have had many special moments in my career so far – in 2005 when Troy Corser was World Champion and also my first victory as a crew chief with Max Neukirchner – and I’m sure there’ll be more to come in the future."