Each of us has an indelible childhood memory of those that, when you think about it years later, can be defined as a warning sign. Ana Ezpeleta was born in Madrid in 1985, and when she was two years old, her father began to follow the construction project at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – and soon allows Ana to accompany him to the Grand Prix. Fascinated by this world of motorcycles going fast on circuits all over the world, Ana watches as a spectator, but a few years later, she will be engaged in a leading role where she supports the future MotoGP™ World Championship.
“I can't imagine a world without motorcycles,” begins Ana, thinking back to the days when she followed her father Carmelo Ezpeleta, managing director of Dorna Sports SL, to work when he was starting the company that we all know today as the organisation of the most prestigious two-wheel motorsport Championships.
Immersed and intrigued by this fast-moving environment that travels to all corners of the globe, at 16, Ana started working in the paddock, becoming part of the department that follows the VIP Village – an activity that allowed her to get to know one of the many parts that make up the MotoGP ™ World Championship: “I was still in school so I only took part in the summer Grands Prix and after the day at the circuit I went back to the hotel and started studying. It was like this for 10 years during which I have visited many countries and established friendships with people who today I consider my second family.”
After completing her university studies in economics and management, Ana decided to give her other great passion a chance: design. "The world of architecture and decoration has always fascinated me, so I studied and worked in Milan as an interior designer for three years."
Enthusiastic to deepen her knowledge in the world of design and immersed in an international environment, she was finding herself far away from the circuits. It was then Ana realised how much she missed the adrenaline of MotoGP™: "When I lived in Milan I organised with my friends to watch the races together and it was by living and sharing the enthusiasm for this sport with them that I realised how much I missed it.”
Accustomed to designing her projects down to the last detail, in 2011 it was the circumstances that drew the way for Ana. “At that time, Dorna was receiving a lot of requests for building circuits all over the world. At the time we had the Promoters Manual for circuits that already existed and wished to welcome the Championship, but there was no manual with directions for building a circuit from scratch.”
Ana, who had seen a track built as a child, became Dorna’s point of reference for promoters who wanted to create a circuit that would eventually welcome MotoGP™: "In 2013 I started as New Tracks Development Manager and the beauty of this role was being able to combine my passion for drawing with that for motorcycling." Ana's first mission in this role saw her fly to Argentina with six MotoGP™ riders to test the new track at Termas de Rio Hondo. A complicated challenge with enormous distances, contrasted by the inevitable desire to complete an ambitious project. The mission was successful and the Argentine track has hosted a Grands Prix since 2014.
Making her return to the paddock as Director of the department focused on the growth of tomorrow's stars, it was in her own way a challenge for Ana: “Some of the people I work with have known me since I was a child and I have to remember what my current role is and it was gratifying to see how they always respected and listened to my opinions.”
On several occasions, Ana’s professionalism and boundless knowledge of Grand Prix dynamics have allowed her to become a reference, especially in the hectic moments of the weekends: "Having grown up in this world, it allows me to find quick solutions even in times of pressure, a quality that is often praised by the people I work with and to hear it said is a real satisfaction.”
At the same time, in 2013, Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup was also born, a project that Ana helped build together with Alberto Puig: "He was my mentor, his experience in this environment and his flair for identifying talent in the riders is incredible.”
With the gradual acquisition of other projects such as the Junior Talent Team, which was already part of the FIM CEV Repsol Championship, and the beginning of a close collaboration with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, the New Riders Department was born in 2015. Six years later it’s called the Talent Promotion Department, a branch that manages and organises six Road to MotoGP™ programmes: Northern Talent Cup, Asia Talent Cup, British Talent Cup, Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Junior Talent Team and the new MiniGP. Each of these focuses on certain geographic areas. Despite having different characteristics, the bikes made available to the riders participating in the Cups are all the same, because it is the talent of the individual that emerges.
The management of human relations, especially when working with very young riders, is an aspect that is sometimes complex to manage but which, at the same time, pays off with the greatest rewards, as Ana herself says: “What motivates me and fills me of satisfaction is to see these young people grow in their professional career and to know that some of them, if it were not for Dorna, could not aspire to become professionals. Before each Moto3™ race I go to greet them one by one and sometimes I joke saying that sooner or later they will have to increase the time available for the grid so that I can greet them all.”
Having spent a lot of time immersed in different uses and customs, Ana has become a careful interpreter of cultural nuances, contributing – thanks to the support of the people who form part of her department – to the creation of Cups that adapt to cultural needs and peculiarities: “In recent years we have realized that it is important to shape these formats to different countries. For example, in Italy and Spain the weather conditions and the presence of many national idols mean that children get on motorcycles as early as five or six years old. However, in Northern European or Asian countries, they generally begin to ride a motorbike when they are teenagers. So we were able to create the FIM MiniGP World Series, a project that aims to standardise the preparation of all young riders who want to become professionals and I do not exclude that this format will facilitate entry even to girls who dream of becoming a rider.”
Looking back, Ana herself is surprised and proud of how far she has come: “If, when this department was born, they had told me that in such a short time it would have become what it is today I would not have believed it. Instead, in 2021 we managed to present an initiative that involves all the world’s Motorcycle Federations to create a common base that will welcome riders from 10 years onwards.”
Witnessing how the paddock has progressively welcomed more and more women engaged in different roles, Ana finds motivation from each new challenge being able to share the numerous successes with her father, Carmelo Ezpeleta, and with her brother Carlos – MotoGP™ Managing Director: “I am proud to work with them and it is a privilege. Mine is the father that everyone would like, a constant source of inspiration from which I and many others always have something to learn from.”
The pandemic has forced the reorganisation of the events and the MotoGP™ World Championship will debut at the Mandalika International Street Circuit later than previously planned. The construction of the Indonesian track is another great satisfaction for Ana: “If this circuit was born, it is partly thanks to the success of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup. We have contributed to the realisation of this project and I am sure it will be very exciting for me to see the MotoGP riders compete on that track.”
With a young but already rich bag of success, Ana and the Talent Promotion department are preparing to organise new challenges that are more and more exciting, so MotoGP™ continues to be one of the most beautiful shows in the world.