Nobby Ueda: Keeping an eye and voice on MotoGP
One of the most popular riders in the paddock during the 1990s ‘Nobby' Ueda is also the most successful 125cc racer never to have won the World Championship. The 38 year old former Honda stalwart claimed 13 GP wins and 39 podiums but was equally renowned for his lively and friendly personality as well as his tendency for some spectacular crashes!.
motogp.com caught up with Nobby, who retired at the end of 2002 after 12 years competing on the Grand Prix scene, at the recent Japanese Motocross Grand Prix at the Sugo circuit. Thanks to www.gatedrop.com for the interview.
Nobby, what have you been up to since you retired?
I miss racing but luckily I could stay in the same world and become a commentator for Japanese television. I follow many races, not just MotoGP but also Motocross. I am also teaching young riders in a school at the Suzuka circuit.
How did you find commentating?
As I rider I thought at first that it would be easy because I know about the technical and mental side of the sport but I was shocked when I started because it is very difficult. Road racing is obviously easier and there is a big gap in the worlds between MotoGP and Motocross.
How are the schools coming along?
I am coaching young riders from the ages of 9 to 15 and 16. It is very interesting to teach boys because they are like sponges. When I show them one thing they go out and do it immediately. They are a few boys who are getting very fast and they start this year in the 125s at the age of 11, 12 and 13. I am waiting to bring them up to the national series in a few years and if it is possible then to the World Championship.
What about the young Japanese riders and how do you see Japan's representation in MotoGP?
This year we have had Nakagami, who is part of the Red Bull MotoGP Academy, and he has already won three races in the 125cc Japanese Championship. The situation is good at the moment. Ukawa-san had the last strong works bike in MotoGP before Nakano but he was racing with the factory bikes before in the Japanese series also. At the moment there are no factory machines competing in the Japan which means that Takahashi and Aoyama need to get very good results to make the step to MotoGP with HRC. A rider like Kato was special but we have some fast guys.
Do you miss the Grand Prix lifestyle?
In the first few months I missed it a lot. My lifestyle changed completely and I was not travelling any more, but now I am happy with my job and especially the racing school. My hope is to come back to MotoGP one day with a young rider, very much like Alberto has done with Dani. I will be at the GP in Motegi and if possible I would like to come to one other race but not work as a worker! I have so many friends in the paddock and it would be nice to visit everyone.