FreestyleXtreme Magazine Issue 25 - Page 54

We’ve tracked the recently-turned 61 year old down between flights and the exodus from Termas de Rio Hondo to Buenos Aires and onto the USA where MotoGP will land in Austin, Texas in two weeks time. Poncharal is staying Stateside until the next dash at COTA, and with his utterly impeccable English is only too happy to ruminate on several themes pertinent to his Tech 3 set-up that celebrates twenty-eight years of existence this season and is very much a model example of a tight and well-run satellite team in Grand Prix. New horizons with KTM from 2019 aside, Poncharal has good reason to be chipper: Zarco was again a major protagonist in Argentina while placing a large ‘bundle of chips’ on outside bet Syahrin as the first Malaysian racer in the premier class has proven to be a masterstroke. Poncharal has also watched old ‘employees’ Andrea Dovizioso and Crutchlow own the first two fixtures of the campaign; the latter becoming the first Brit to lead the championship standings since Barry Sheene smoked, gagged and shagged his way to glory at the end of the 1970s. If Herve was not enough of a paddock figure and personality as it is – and the likeable Team Owner and IRTA honcho has hardly missed a Grand Prix in more than a quarter of a century – then he is having even more impact on the sport through influences past and present. 54 | Give me an impression of how things have been considering the drama and Jonas Folger’s last minute withdrawal at the beginning of the year? It seems to have turned out quite well so far… It was very tough to hear Jonas Folger telling us just a few days before heading to Malaysia for the first test of the 2018 season, that he was not only missing the test but also the whole year. You can imagine that at this time all the riders with the level to be on this type of bike were already contracted. We basically had a one- rider team and the other guy would be there to make up the numbers on the grid. We were thinking, thinking, thinking and we tried Yonny Hernandez in Sepang just have to someone on the bike and to give him a chance. While we were there I was walking through the paddock with the weight of the world on my shoulders and I came across Razlan Razali, who is the CEO of the Sepang International Circuit. We were chatting and an idea popped into my head and I said “Razlan, what about Syahrin on a MotoGP bike?” He replied “Yeah! How much?” and I said: “It’s free! But I know you have a Moto2 programme” but he said any kind of MotoGP deal would be great. From that moment on I started to get excited again. It was a tough mission to convince the partners but we made it happen. u £ The Tech 3 team was founded in 1990 by Poncharal along with Bernard Martignac and engineer Guy Coulon. They opperated in the 250cc class, taking a 1-2 in the 2000 championship after partnering with Yamaha. They moved to the MotoGP in 2001.