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Working in MotoGP: Pramac d´Antin Parts Manager Liam Shubert

Working in MotoGP: Pramac d´Antin Parts Manager Liam Shubert

In the second Working in MotoGP interview meets Liam Shubert a Parts Manager with the Pramac d´Antin team, who looks after the supply of parts for the 800cc Ducati Desmosedici GP7 machinery of Alex Barros and Alex Hofmann.

In the second Working in MotoGP interview meets Liam Shubert a Parts Manager with the Pramac d´Antin team, who looks after the supply of parts for the 800cc Ducati Desmosedici GP7 machinery of Alex Barros and Alex Hofmann.

Throughout the 2007 summer break Working in MotoGP will take you behind the scenes in the MotoGP paddock, as we meet a wide selection of people who play significant roles off the track in the World Championship and they reveal the specifics of their involvement in Grand Prix racing.

With Pramac dAntin being a privateer unit, Shuberts job entails liaison with Ducati Corse for the supply of parts for Barros and Hofmanns bikes and at times he has a hands on role in the pit-box when his expertise is required with the dismantling and rebuilding of race machinery

What are your main responsibilities?
Predominantly, I deal with all the hard parts required to service, maintain, and repair four prototype Ducati racebikes through a full season racing in the World Championship. I´m a primary point of contact between the Pramac d´Antin MotoGP team and Ducati Corse, and my job is to track the usage of parts, control the physical team stock, and when necessary, order additional pieces when required as we continue to test new solutions and new pieces for the bike.

I oversee our spare parts racing budget and verify that the business transactions and invoices between my team and Ducati Corse are correct. At the racetrack, I manage our racing supplies and work closely with the mechanics to ensure that the right pieces are changed at the right times, and in the event of a crash, I will select the parts necessary to rebuild the bike - sometimes jumping in and lending a hand when time is short.

What are the hardest aspects of your job?
With the new Ducati GP7, we are finding different mileage limits and part longevity of the materials we are using, so I try to look into the future and supplement our inventory at my discretion and at the advice of our Chief Engineers, Emanuele Martinelli and Fabiano Sterlacchini. It´s not as easy as simply asking the factory for new pieces, though, because some pieces are outsourced and there are varying leadtimes before a piece can be delivered to the team - typically around 2-3 months.

For this reason, it´s critical to track the parts being used more often, recognise and react to those trends, and act accordingly so that we´ll be as prepared as possible and are able to keep our bikes on the track and lined up on the grid. No matter what. Also, I´m the only American on my squad, and sometimes there are cultural and linguistic difficulties that will pop up because my team is mainly Spanish and Italian. I´ve worked hard to develop a system of communication and interaction with my crew that I feel has only made us stronger and closer knit, and I feel these are important parts of building a successful team.

What are the most exciting and rewarding moments in your job?
When I see my team-mates smiling and congratulating one another after a good race or a hard weekend, when I know that everyone worked well together and didn´t give up, then I´m satisfied. I can´t control everything, but when I see that the bikes are working well, the set-up is good, the Bridgestone tyres continue to evolve and improve, and when my riders are fighting hard for every position, then I know I contributed to my team being able to compete at this level, and that makes me very happy. Naturally, I want to fight for podiums, race wins, and eventually, World Championships, but each race completed is a small success for me because my job is to keep the bikes supplied with whatever they need, and a race finish means I did my job.

How do you prepare for each Grand Prix?
If I´ve done my job correctly, I should have prepared for the next Grand Prix four or five races ago! However, at every race there are different problems and different needs, so I go into each race mentally prepared to resolve as many problems as possible, and in the shortest and easiest manner I can. Sometimes I´ll bring other materials for the team, like cleaning supplies or paper goods, but mostly I make sure I´ve got my computers, files, and most importantly, a winning attitude, with me for each and every race.

How does your typical routine for each day of a Grand Prix weekend differ?
A race weekend is actually a race week for all the teams, and we´ll descend upon a track on Wednesday morning to erect our paddock garage and begin prepping the bikes. If there was a race crash, we´ll begin repairs almost immediately, and by Thursday afternoon, all the bikes are fired up and the electronics systems and sensors are checked for abnormalities. These are the busiest days for me at the track, but Friday and Saturday are a little easier because we have a strict timeframe of when the bikes have to be on track and when we can actually work on them.

I´ll spend parts of Wednesday and Thursday checking in new pieces from Ducati, and Friday and Saturday preparing quickchange ´kits´ so that when we change transmission ratios or swap engines, everything goes as smoothly as possible. During the free practices, we are always looking for the best feeling for the riders and for the maximum tyre life, so we´ll change quite a few things involving the chassis and suspension settings and springs. It´s fun, because every day is a little different, and when you throw in the kind of weather we´ve been getting the last few years, it really gets exciting.

How has your job changed in the time you have been involved in MotoGP?
I started my career in MotoGP as a mechanic, and this enabled me to learn the parts of the bike and the system of working in the garage. When I shifted to Spare Parts and Logistics Manager, I was able to visualize things that much more, and coming directly from working on the bikes really helped simplify my job because I know intimately what is replaced often, what is liable to break, and what I´ll need in the future to keep the bikes going strong.

When I began working more closely with Ducati Corse, we created a several new systems of tracking pieces, ordering parts, and managing accounts, and I´m always working on making things more efficient and cost effective between our two organizations. In this regard, I´m very proud to know that I´ve helped bring an Italian company like Ducati, and my Spanish team, Pramac D´antin, closer together with clear goals, a solid working structure, and increased competitiveness on the track. Where I used to be one of the hands that worked on the bikes, now I´m much more a part of the backbone of the team, and I´m happy to support my boys however I can.

How did you first arrive in the MotoGP paddock?
I fell in love with GP racing at the tail end of the 500 two-strokes. They were so foreign to me, as were the circuits, but always pushing the envelope of what was possible on two wheels. When they changed over to four-strokes in 2002, I knew I wanted to be a part of the series in some way, but it wasn´t until 2005 that I really took a hard look at my life and decided to go for it by moving to Europe and putting myself out there. After working with Luis D´antin in the Qatar National Series, he gave me the green light to join the MotoGP Team, and it´s been an incredible rush ever since.

What is your advice for anyone wishing to work in a similar role as yourself?
Believe in yourself, trust in your passion, and know that when things are looking tough, there´s always a brighter tomorrow. If you keep a sharp mind, and have the commitment and dedication to continue learning constantly, there´s not much you can´t do in life.

How do you stay on top of your game over the course of an 18 round season?
Because we´re a privateer (non-factory) team, we obviously have less personnel and resources to throw at our problems. Ducati Corse has been extremely supportive of me and the team this past season

MotoGP, 2007

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