Features

Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella

Living in a MotoGP paddock is an immersive experience. A rider needs a place for reflection when he’s not at full throttle out on the track. The motorhomes, those shiny and impressive rolling caravans with bright decorations you see parked up in the paddock, are a refuge, a place of calm and an exclusive space where the MotoGP riders take some rest, concentrate and focus, get prepped for the track, celebrate success - and lick the wounds of failure - alongside their loved ones.

I'm not very superstitious but... I always use the same underpants for the whole weekend, black ones

"The motorhome for each rider is an almost magical place," admits Andrea Iannone, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider. "Sometimes I think I live better in the motorhome than in my own home," he continues. This is understandable because, for dozens of weeks a year, these athletes shower, sleep, and eat in these caravans. They are fitted out with everything you could need, meaning you rarely miss home comforts. "In a way, it's like my real home. Its the place where I have had to sweat the most, the one that has given me the most emotions, where I have suffered pain ... the motorhome is almost a sanctuary," he concludes.

In this sanctuary Andrea wakes up early every morning, before the practice sessions, for breakfast. "Always the same," he says, Pancakes. But not the American style, with Nutella ... No, mine are very healthy, with oatmeal and wholemeal." Giacomo, his physical trainer, prepares them for the whole weekend. He is the one who wakes the rider up every morning and helps him to prepare for the day ahead.

Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella

After the morning session comes the first meeting, "a technical meeting with the track and electronics engineer, in which the first data and problems are analysed". With the engineers the symptoms are detected, together, looking at a computer screen full of lines that rise and fall like a rollercoaster, and remedies are put in place to improve the set up of the motorcycle. This data is countersigned shortly before the second session, FP2.

Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella

Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella

Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella
Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella
Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella
Pancakes for breakfast… but no Nutella

Lunch time is the first break in the day, where relaxation is as important as  adrenaline. The food is always adjusted to a strict diet: rice, vegetables, pasta, grilled meat... Everything has to be under control.

And then it’s time for a massage. "I'm not one of those riders who takes a lot of massages, but one a day is needed to release the muscles. It is very important", says Andrea. Sometimes the fatigue from riding can be so much that you fall into a deep sleep; "I do not nap during the day because we do not have much time, but sometimes during the massage ...", admits Iannone, laughing as he remembers a time he fell asleep on the massage table.

And how about race day for Iannone? "I wake up around 07:30 and I do all my things before breakfast. Then I get dressed and go to the garage with my brother, Angelo - who always accompanies him and assists him in his communication tasks and other marketing activities with the team or the sponsors - on the scooter. On the second floor of Suzuki’s paddock facility, which is known as ‘the castle’, Andrea has another quiet corner; an alcove where the essentials are kept: "There I put on my leathers and go to the box before the session to speak with my track engineer". Just minutes later the engine explodes into life, spurred on by Andrea, who exits the pit garage.

"The best part of the weekend is when you get on the motorcycle," admits the rider from Vasto. And the most boring? "Thursday, by far", he replies bluntly. Thursday is a day marked by interviews and marketing events for the team or for the organisers and promotors of the Championship. Another difficult time can be after the races,  when you would like to be standing under the shower, but you need to talk with everyone first. he adds.

After each training session or the race, the riders spend time with the press and media. Each rider spends about 15 minutes with the journalists. In addition, the afternoon is the time to meet and greet the special guests of Suzuki, and take part in autograph sessions, photo opportunities and other marketing events. Then the late afternoon is free.

Every athlete is usually afflicted by some superstition, and Andrea hasn’t escaped this influence. "I'm not very superstitious, but honestly speaking I have some things I do...", he reveals, recounting some of his routines: "I always arrive at the box at the same time ... I always do everything in the same order when I get dressed, and when I undress, I stick to this routine religiously. The same order for each item, first the left side, then the right. I also always use the same underpants for the whole weekend, black ones. Before jumping on the bike I make the sign of the cross and I always adjust my leathers at the crotch.

After a frugal dinner at the hospitality with the team, it’s time to rest. "I do not have a very precise schedule for going to bed. I used to go to sleep later but now I do not go to bed later than 1.00am. I always like to watch a movie before falling asleep. Or we chat with the guys before going to bed, explains Andrea. Then his mind turns to the moments of the day; things which were well done, things to be corrected or improved... and he will close his eyes with the hunger to fight against the clock on track the next day.

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