Q&A with Luca Montiron
The 2005 Championship is the debut season of the Konica Minolta Honda team, led by Luca Montiron. The 35 year-old team manager, who previously worked with famous riders such as Tetsudy Harada, Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Valentino Rossi, Marco Melandri, has been working exclusively with Makoto Tamada since the Japanese rider's MotoGP debut in 2003. The Italian discusses the debut of the new dedicated structure and its prospects.
Let's start from the beginning, what made you build a completely new Team?
First of all the passion, the true reason why we do this job, then the will to take on a new challenge.
The story of our sport says that never an organization was built only for one Japanese rider. Normally they are included in the various structures of the Teams because they provide to the team the support of the Japanese manufactures. I began this personal challenge in 1993, when I won with Testuya Harada my first World Championship in the 250 class.
JiR's challenge is to find the equal conditions for what it concern the possibilities offered to the motorcycle riders: we would like to give to all the riders the same opportunity to show theirs potential whatever country they are from.
Which has been the fundamental element to begin?
We have been fortunate to collaborate with Honda, the world's reference for all the people who works in our sector. They understood our objectives and they gave us the availability to manage two RC211V.
Then we have a rider who last year has made it to win two Grand Prix in the most prestigious category, therefore he surely has great qualities.
Thanks to these two fundamental factors we put together our strength to find the financial support for our project.
How did you involve a new sponsor?
Of course our research of the partner which we would have worked together in this new challenge has been focussed from the beginning in Japan. If we analyse the world's market we can perceive how many Japanese companies are present in the world; for example in every part of the world we found a Honda car or bike store. We tried to make our interlocutors know how it could be possible to conciliate the interest of more investors to let the public know about these brands in the world. The multinational Konica Minolta had from only a couple of years united under only one brand Konica and Minolta and therefore was searching the most effective direction to spread the brand. The package we offered through JiR has been considered the right place to spread the image of the brand through the world thanks to the MotoGP visibility.
In this way the Konica Minolta Honda Team was born…
Yes, and one of our peculiarity is to follow our own road, completely different from the rest. All of us strongly believe in what we do.
For example our structure is divided in the various sectors of competence and each of these is autonomous in the managing of its job.
I think we are the only non-official Team which has an engineer who manage the technical activities. I believe this is fundamental to understand the actual technical needs that the MotoGP impose, because nowadays the electronic manages many parameter of the bike and therefore is of vital importance the exchange of data and opinion between HRC and our technicians.
Another example of diversification is represented by our department dedicated to the Marketing and Communication activities, fundamental to propose to the investors diversified programs and obtain the maximum exposure of the brand not only with the sport activity but also with collateral activities. Other Teams to lower theirs expenses, delegate these tasks to the sponsors, which is without a doubt more convenient from an economical point of view, but JiR's strategy is projected to the future and we are convinced that our actual investments will results fundamental for our future.
In Assen we have been the testimonial of the movie "Batman Begins", aimed operation to spread the MotoGP image not only to the fan of motorcycle but also to a larger scale.
I believe that one of the fundamental elements for the success of our sport comes from these factors; Dorna has contributed in a decisive way to make this sport of a higher quality and to make our championship truly worldwide.
How do you see the future of motorcycling?
It's obvious for us, which are at the first year of activity, that this is a long-term process. For these reason we have to analyse the situation in its general aspect. Currently there are four Japanese and one European manufactures which represents the MotoGP, I hope that in the future there could be others constructors interested in entering the maximum category to make grow the interest towards our world.
In which way?
The only thing that I personally consider we could take example from the F1 is the function of the Teams. I believe that one similar formula could result interesting for potential investors to enter motorcycling racing. For example in F1 there is always the union of a Team with a motor constructor: Honda with BAR, BMW with Williams, Mercedes with McLaren. I believe this could attract a larger number of potential constructors and therefore of investors with this typology of formula which could be a in the motorcycling racing. Certainly, at the actual status, the normal teams would not be prepared to face this kind of formula.
The problem could be represented by the riders who could ride the MotoGP bikes?
This is one of the motive why is necessary to help the manufactures because there is the necessity to prepare a base with minor championships in the various continents to make our sport grow and raise new riders. At the actual status Italy and Spain are at a good stage because they give good opportunities to young riders with minor national championships, starting from the minibike.
In the short time, what do you intend to do ?
The separation from the oriental and the occidental culture is still marked, this explain the difficulties that Japanese riders have to adapt to European lifestyle when they are in the firsts seasons of the world championship. JiR would like to get involved to try to build an organization which would allow them to remain in Europe without having nostalgia of their own land.
For this reason we are moving forward to build a "college" for riders who could spend the majority of their time to train in dedicated centres, prepare them physically and technically, and also let them frequent a school to learn languages and courses of public relations. The world of motorcycling asks more and more professionalism and we want to prepare the riders to be serious professionals not only on the bike, we want them to be the testimonial for younger riders who see in them life's symbols.
In this "college" we will organize also some courses of riding with professional instructors and technical courses for young mechanics, to move towards also other professional figures in the world of motorcycling.
What are the programs for next year?
We want to do well our job, we have an important package to support our activity and we want to repay the trust given to us. Our project is based on a defined strategy which rotates around Honda and Konica Minolta. JiR has the rights to manage the career of rider Makoto Tamada, therefore we'll evaluate together at the opportune moment how to proceed. I expect an improvement of Makoto's performances, because we all are trustful of his potentials.