Davide Brivio Interview, Part 2: On Johann Zarco, Alex Rins, Maverick Viñales, And Identifying Talent

In the second part of my interview with Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio on talent, the Italian talks about the process of identifying and developing talent. We talked about Johann Zarco, and Suzuki's decision to choose Alex Rins over Johann Zarco, and the difference between being a factory and a satellite rider. We discussed the merits of having a feeder system, teams at various levels of racing to channel talent into MotoGP.

Brivio also spoke at some length about how he came to choose to sign Maverick Viñales. He compares that process to the decision to sign Alex Rins, and how he goes about identifying and deciding on talent. There are no guarantees, Brivio says, but all you can do is follow a process and hope the gamble pays off.

The second half of the interview appears below. Though the second half of this interview stands up on its own, reading it in combination with the first half will put it into a better perspective, and add more depth. The first half of the interview with Davide Brivio can be found here.

Q: Do you regret not signing Johann Zarco? [Suzuki had a pre-contract with Zarco during the 2016 season, but ended up taking Alex Rins instead.]

DB: Of course, I got this question so many times. Of course. Looking what Zarco is doing, I’ll be honest, I thought about it. But also I’m happy for what Zarco is doing because also I had the time to spend a week together in Japan when he tested the MotoGP with us in June. Him and Laurent [Fellon, his manager] are really… They are very nice people. They are two guys that really live for motorcycles. Zarco knows the motorcycle history from even before he was born. He studied. They live for that, they train for that, they train with the bike. So, he is like a rider from another era, from this perspective rather than you know the logo, the makes, the marketing, the social… So many external factors.

Q: Like a rider from the 1960s or 1970s who sleeps in his van with his bike.

DB: From this point of view I’m very happy that it’s going well, because if you like motorcycles, you like the sport, you like these stories, in my opinion. I’m very happy. Really pleased to see him going well. Also, I think that maybe at Suzuki it would have been harder for him to do so well, to be honest, because he was quite lucky, let’s say. He found a good bike, and this was not happening in that team for a few years probably. But anyway, he found a very good bike, ready to go.

He doesn’t have to do any development. Maybe technical choices. He only has to find a setting. Probably an electronics setting, mechanical setting and ride. Just ride, ride, ride and change tires. So probably somehow let’s say a little bit easier than having the responsibility to make the development for a factory, to make a test and lose time checking chassis. Lose time testing electronics and whatever. They didn’t have to lose time doing this.

But what he’s doing is great. There’s no doubt that he’s doing something exceptional, probably something that if you consider that, as a rookie, the only riders better than him were just probably guys like Marquez, Pedrosa or Lorenzo, in a factory team. So, I don’t see a satellite team guy being so brilliant in the past.

Q: Casey Stoner [who came into MotoGP in 2006 with the satellite LCR Honda team] is maybe the only one who is comparable?

DB: Casey Stoner got the pole position and almost the podium, then he crashed. So, we’re talking about big names. I’m happy what he’s doing. Probably this is the perfect situation for him.

Q: Like you said about KTM, they have Moto2, Moto3, Rookies Cup, pre-Moto3. Have you thought about partnering with Moto2 teams or Moto3 to bring up young riders?

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Great interview. very interesting about MotoGP in general. thks. 

But a few things are still missing. Davide is avoiding the big question about the reason why he didn't keep Aleix Espargaro and he didn't keep Zarco.  "We start a new project" is a bit... mysterious. 

The fact that Zarco is not on a factory bike to me is so sad. It kind of makes Motogp less attractive. The fact that the sport is almost always dominated by the factory bikes.