On the starting grid of the 24 Hours Moto there will be Manuel Poggiali, who is going to make his return to racing. Poggiali, who has won two World Titles in 125cc in 2001 and in the 250cc in 2003, will join the Special Team Ducati by Z Racing on 21 and 22 April at Le Mans. The San Marino rider said: “This is an experience I wanted to try. I’ve always been inspired by Endurance, even more in recent times, when Italian riders get good results. It’s a rising sport, with an increasing visibility and a fast-growing audience: all the more reason to try!”
How did this possibility materialise?
“I met up with Alessia (Salmasa) and Jacopo (Zizza) some months ago. From that moment, we built up the deal with the will of doing things well. It’s a “little” team with no chance to be part of an official one, but we will try to work well, to respect the schedule and to reach our goals. It’s going to be my first experience in a 24-hour race, so I’m keeping a low-profile and a simple attitude to do our best, then we will see…”
Which aspect of a 24-hour race are you most curious about?
“There are three aspects I want to discover. The first one is riding at night: I did it in the MotoGP World Championship (in the 250cc in 2008). But we were racing with high temperature and the track was lit up like it was day. At Le Mans it will be completely different, because we ride in April and when it’s night, it’s really night! I hope to find good weather conditions so that I can adapt myself better to racing at night, even because there won’t be many practices before the race. Also it’s going to be interesting to handle a 24-hour race and try to manage my 8 stints without problems. There will be little time between stints and that’s something new for me. Last but not least, I’ll try to find the right set-up and to connect with the other riders of the team. We will be 3 riders to race in 24 hours, so it’s going to be essential that we help each other to find a set-up that works on 3 different peculiarities and riding styles.”
Are you going to change something in your training program in preparation for the 24 Hours?
“Yes, now I’m training several times a day to prepare myself. There’s not much time until April comes, but I want to leave anything to chance. In my spare time I try to train as hard as possible, without forgetting other activities and my wonderful family, first of all my wife, who is always next to me and supported me in this challenge too.”
Your return to races created great interest…
“Really! I was very pleased to see that. Even in Japan they talked about me, that makes me very proud of what is my past in motorcycling. This announcement dusted off the passion and the cheer of many fans that followed me when I was racing in the MotoGP World Championship. I feel so proud of what I did, for San Marino and for what I represent: I have nothing but to thank everyone.”
At Le Mans you will be the only Two-Time World Champion on the grid…
“It’s just a detail, I’m not considering it. I’m ready to do my best, I’m going to give my all with what I’ll be given to have fun and learn from this wonderful experience I’ve always wanted to try.”