If you haven’t listened to it already, the latest episode of the MotoGP™ Podcast is up and running as the Last On The Brakes team caught up with KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer for a fascinating chat in Austria.
One of the topics that were touched upon was Bierer’s motocross days. In the late 90s and early 00s, Beirer was one of the top riders on the world stage and the German discusses how and why he got into the sport.
“I mean still, you work so many years to become a professional racer. And that moment when you sign your first contract and you make money, coming out of this little village in Germany, there was no option other than to work for little company with my Dad and stay in that village forever… or go out there and chase a dream,” says Beirer, who chased and lived the dream.
“It was so good to make the sport professional and to live from it. I was a couple of years in the top three in the World Championship, so I made good money. Better money than usual work. I mean that’s a part of your life which is so good which will never come back. The satisfaction to be a professional sportsman, that’s something very outstanding and kids should really dream for that because it cannot get any better than this. If you do what you love, not a single one of your days is a working day. Everyday you can do what you like. Do sports and then ride motorbikes in the afternoon - race on the Sundays and get paid cash for that… what else can you ask for?”
Beirer then delves into what it takes to be a multi-time World Champion: “But one thing I want to say about the talent and riders you mentioned - Vale and Marc, I was never that multi-time champion but you have many guys who work hard and talent is so-so, many guys with a huge talent, and they’re not ready to put in the work. The great champions have all of that.
“They have super talent and great management around who put them in the right place at the right moment, but they’re also ready to work harder every single day than the other guys. Otherwise, you cannot be champion in one of these different disciplines. I had my career, I was happy how I did it. But you see a proper champion, he’s the champion because he has the talent and because he was working harder than the other guys.”
The conversation then moves onto some of the moments that Beirer is most proud of in his motocross career that spanned from 1989 to 2003, which included seven wins.
“There was one moment when I won in 1991, I won as an up and coming kid, the German MX GP. To win a motocross Grand Prix in your own country and hear that national anthem at the end of the day - the emotions there you cannot describe. You want to laugh, cry, hug the whole world. Winning a GP, especially a home GP, that’s something outstanding which will always follow you forever. I had a couple of GP wins, another big one in Germany a few years later - these wins in your home country are so special. But also, I think two or three races where I dominated the Motocross Of Nations, the only time of year you can meet all the guys from the USA, together with the Europeans.
“There I had a clear 1-1 in 1997 in Belgium, so you see these dates come still and the name of the venue still but you forget many of the others. But of course there are some special races and since I wasn’t a multi-time champion and winner, the home GP wins are very special. I mean, I had German championships, I even had a Swiss championship, I was always moving around to teams which I thought were best to win championships. I was always ready to leave home and be somewhere alone in the country, where I thought I had the best possibilities. But all these things were nothing compared to winning a GP. That’s still something very special. I always still feel so emotional on the Sunday afternoon when you see the guys on the podium. They achieve something special and this is something quite nice.”
Beirer then explains how he’s still called “the motocross guy” in the KTM box and how his motocross background has stood him in good stead for some of the things he has to deal with in his role at the Austrian factory.
“Yeah I mean, OK, I’m still fighting the fact they call me the motocross guy. Still in the morning they think I want to put knobbly tyres on or something like that! I’m not the only one in the paddocks, I think an ex-racer can be a good manager. I don’t think ever ex-racer can be a good manager, that I’ll also say. I mean, I think the background like running my own team with my own people, running a carnet past customs - I think most riders in this paddock don’t even know what a carnet is - but I had to do it. I had to prepare overseas trips, pack the bike in the crates and go, I had to pay my mechanics, cook for them, organise a place to sleep, all these things helped me a lot as that’s exactly what we are doing now. We are just many more people!
“If you did everything yourself one time, I think that helps a lot from the organisational side. I wasn’t a rider with a manager, who came only with his toothbrush to the races and asking, “ok, where is the bike?” Even I was there when we tuned the engine, working on the suspension. So looking back this was hard for me as a racer as I wasn’t a rider with factory support but this was ultimately better for my future that I had to go through all that. The racer helps to understand everyone in the garage or team on the motocross track, I think I’m a good bumper between all the mechanics, riders, sponsors, because it’s all about keeping the people happy and making sure everyone’s in the right position.
“I can’t build the best bike, I just have to make sure I have the right guy to build the best bike. But, all the best experts are nothing if they don’t fit together as a team. So I think there you have an advantage as an ex-rider, as you know how a rider feels when he comes in and he’s doubting something, it will not help him if you tell him, “yeah but your teammate is going faster on the same bike, get out there and go”. No, you need to listen to the guy and give him what he needs to perform. And yeah, I think that’s an advantage from being a rider before.”
It really is a sensational catch up with the KTM leader, and you can listen to it on your favoured platform (see widgets near the top of the article) or watch it on MotoGP™’s YouTube channel. Here are the other topics that you can look forward to listening to on the latest episode:
- Pit’s start in riding and racing
- Pit’s racing career & what he’s most proud of
- His first job at KTM after the accident and working his way up
- Why product & racing departments NEED to work together
- The first steps back into road racing
- The story behind the decision to race in MotoGP™
- Going “all-in” on yourself
- Kenwood Quickfire