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Massimo Meregalli is the team manager for the Yamaha World Superbike Team from 2005 onwards.


Who:
Massimo Meregalli

When:
Friday 10 August 2007

Behind every WSB team is someone upon whose shoulders all key decisions rest – the team manager. It is his responsibility to maximize the potential of everything and everyone in the team and to ensure the team is all working to the same goal. Massimo ‘Maio’ Meregalli is that man in the Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team. An ex-racer himself, Maio was the team manager for the then Belgarda World Supersport team from 2002 to 2004, before taking up the challenge of team manager for the World Superbike Team from 2005 onwards. Here, the man who holds it all together talks about his experiences and hopes for the team’s future.


Question from: YRC

There’s very little known about you, you seem to have a mystical profile. Tell us a bit about how you got into racing and how you came to be where you are today?

ANSWER:
I’ve always had a passion for bikes. It burst out when I turned 14 and was able to ride my first bike according to the Italian law. I owe the beginning of my racing career to Fabrizio Pirovano; he introduced me to the Belgarda team and, in 1988, I had my first contract to race in the Sport Production 125 category. It was a dream come true but I always kept my feet on the ground. In fact, for a period I kept working as an electrician; that was a ‘sure job’, and in life you never know what might happen.


Question from: YRC

How did you make the transition from team rider to team manager?

ANSWER:
During my racing career I always spent lots of time at Belgarda – I used to live close by. I got to know behind the scenes of the company very well and I learnt how a team works during my talks with Davide Brivio, the team manager at the time. I was going beyond my role as rider even then. When Claudio Consonni (the Racing Manager at Yamaha Italia) told me that it was time I moved to the ‘other side of the barrier’, I didn’t take it well at first but I’d convinced James Whitham to stay with Belgarda and Paolo Casoli was joining the team, so we had two very competitive riders. That’s the reason why I accepted the proposal of becoming team manager.


Question from: YRC

What were the hardest things about the change in role?

ANSWER:
It’s not easy to learn a completely new job. I think my humility helped as well as the relationship with my companions in this ‘great adventure’, with whom I already had a great feeling. I’m talking about Claudio Consonni, Silvano Galbusera and Mauro Saleppico – extraordinary people with whom I still share the most important decisions. I also have to thank Davide Tardozzi, the team manager for Ducati, who taught me a lot despite our rivalry in the sport!


Question from: YRC

Do you miss racing these days or are you happy to be behind the scenes?

ANSWER:
The secret is not to live with the memories. When you get off the bike for the final time one story is finished and another one is beginning. You cannot be a team manager/rider otherwise you can’t do your job in the right way. It’s important to understand that you have to act only in the interest of the team and you have to put your relationship with the riders in front of everything. Over the years I believe I’ve established a good rapport with almost all my riders.


Question from: YRC

You’ve been with the team in one form or another since the early Belgarda days. How has the team changed in that time?

ANSWER:
The team has grown a lot, both from a professional and from a numerical point of view; there are now 25 people working in the team which is much more than in the early days. Of course we have to keep on improving, but this is normal.


Question from: YRC

Everyone who spends time with the team talks about the family atmosphere and working environment. How has this happened?

ANSWER:
The atmosphere is created by the people who work together and everything is easier when there is a good feeling and mutual respect, as there is here at the YMIT team. We all win and we all lose together, and we all move in the same direction with enthusiasm. I believe that giving people responsibility is fundamental; it motivates people and helps to achieve results.


Question from: YRC

You’ve had the opportunity to ride with and more recently manage many successful racers. Who has stood out in your mind and why?

ANSWER:
I’d rather not make any decision on this because I don’t think it’s correct. I can say that my relationships with almost all my riders have been marked by mutual respect and that even after difficult choices no one has left by slamming the door.


Question from: YRC

The team has re-signed Corser and Haga again for 2008. How close is the working relationship between the two sides of the garage?

ANSWER:
One of the reasons for this year’s successes – Noriyuki’s second place in the Rider’s Championship and the first win for Yamaha in the Manufacturer’s Championship – is because of the good relationship between Haga and Corser. Each one respects the other which allows them to cooperate in their jobs. They always confer together before making a choice and they often share the same feelings – even if they have different riding styles. The media talk almost only about Haga but Troy is not only very fast; his job has been fundamental in taking the R1 to its current level of competitiveness.


Question from: YRC

What do you see as Yamaha Motor Italia’s advantages over the other WSB teams?

ANSWER:
As I’ve already said, we are a good team working with one sole aim, that of winning. This has helped us make a big improvement in our quality and becoming a top team in WSB.


Question from: YRC

The WSB title was so close for the team this year and you will hopefully be in close contention again next year. What have been the key factors in the team’s success since re-entering the championship in 2005?

ANSWER:
In 2007 we had the best package ever with regard to riders and this proved to be vital. At the beginning of the season we had some problems, things didn’t always work out perfectly but, considering we finished only two points from the title, something good has been done even if there is a bit of bitterness. I believe that next year it’ll be a bit easier because the bike will be fundamentally the same and we’ve already done a lot of work in developing the bike from a chassis point of view. We’ll improve the electronics over the winter and I’m sure we’ll be ready to fight for the title from the first race.


Question from: YRC

Tell us about the man away from the racing. What do you do to relax away from the track?

ANSWER:
I don’t have a lot of free time; when I’m not working I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife Claudia and my two sons, Giulia, who’s four, and Andrea, who’s just eight months old. I also still like to keep in good shape and train; I run and ride my bicycle.


Question from: YRC

What is your goal?

ANSWER:
Obviously to win the WSB title. This year we have got very close to it, but next year we want to do better.



Career Highlights
1988 – first ride with Yamaha Belgarda Team in 125 Sport Production Italian Championship
1994-1995 – Rode in WSB for Yamaha Belgarda team
1996-2000 – Rode in WSS for Yamaha Belgarda team
2001-2004 – Team Coordinator, Yamaha Belgarda WSS team
2005-present – Team Coordinator, Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team
 
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