It was a surprise, but in retrospect it is quite clear why KTM made one of the biggest moves on team personnel by recruiting Pramac team manager Francesco Guidotti.
When the 2021 season ended, we were only expecting to get one announcement about team personnel before the start of 2022: who would be the team manager of Suzuki. Rider announcements would come later, after the team launches and the preseason tests started, as all six manufacturers face the challenge of trying to sign riders with the grid almost completely out of contract at the end of the season.
So news of Francesco Guidotti leaving the Pramac Ducati team after 10 years as team manager for KTM came as a big surprise. First announced by Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport’s Paolo Ianieri, then confirmed by KTM after announcing the change of role for Mike Leitner, who started and led the MotoGP project with the Austrian manufacturer. The move came as a surprise also for Pramac team owner Paolo Campinoti, with some reports suggesting the Italian took the departure of the man who helped him bring the Pramac team to its current level in the world championship very hard.
For Guidotti, this move would be a kind of return to KTM. The team manager started his career in the MotoGP paddock working for Aprilia in 1993 and managed the WSBK team in 2004-05, before coming back to the world championship with the manufacturer to manage their last seasons in the 250cc class. He then managed the 125cc KTM team for four seasons until the manufacturer decided to quit at the end of 2009. Guidotti moved back to the WSBK paddock to manage the Aprilia team again for that historic championship win with Max Biaggi in 2010. When the offer came to come back to the MotoGP paddock and manage the Pramac satellite team, Guidotti jumped at the opportunity. Now the Italian team manager is taking his next step.
More opportunity, more influence
“It is the same for everybody in this environment,” says Guidotti on comparing his move, from satellite to factory team, to how riders feel when they make a similar move. “The factory status is something to achieve. It's an ambition for team members, riders, managers and to be honest I was not thinking about it, but once they offered me this opportunity it was difficult to say no. There is a lot of ambition in the factory teams, you have to be ambitious, and those who do this job in racing have to be, otherwise choosing this job is a mistake,” he says laughing and adds, “It's the same for everybody, for riders mainly, but also for us.”
“Everybody knows that once you jump into a factory team the only target and only goal is to win, there is no question,” Guidotti says about the pressure of managing a factory team. “Satellite teams have a much wider range [of results] to be happy with, and to say it was a good season or a good race. When I started in Pramac we were more than happy to be in the top ten. Year by year we grew and we got a much better package and conditions. At first we were happy to be top 10, then top five, then we achieved several podiums per year, and the final goal was to win again. For a factory team this is something they cannot even consider, the only target is to win. Next year this will not be the case, nor our target. It's only been a few years that KTM has been participating in MotoGP, we are aware of the level, but we need to be on top anyway to show signs of growth during the year. Obviously the pressure is much higher but the tools we have available are greater. It must be balanced.”
Guidotti sees some similarities between the Ducati and KTM and the tools available to them, because of the ability to respond quickly to the needs of the riders and teams in the factory.
“This is a characteristic of the European brands,” he says. “We know that the Japanese manufacturers are slower to react, maybe for logistics reasons or maybe because of their mentality. They plan at the beginning of the year and they have to follow it strictly, as the history of motorsports shows. Italians, Europeans in general are more flexible, more reactive. Sometimes it's not all.. It can be a limit sometimes because when you take a decision too quickly, sometimes it's not the best way to solve the problem. But overall it's for sure a bit better to have this flexibility.”
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