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GP Week : Issue 38
5 Minutes with ... Sete Gibernau After two seasons on the sidelines, Sete Gibernau is back in MotoGP, with Ducati’s second team. He spoke toMICHAEL SCOTT In a way, Sete Gibernau was a victim of the second Ducati rider syndrome. On a Honda he had consistently challenged Rossi, often the only one to do so, and was twice title runner up. On a factory Ducati in ’06, he shone occasionally but also crashed spectacularly. His spoiled season ended when Stoner knocked him off at the Portuguese GP. Later that evening, the Ducati factory gave the young Australian Sete’s job. Sete had not chosen retirement, but accepted it. Glamour boy of racing, grandson of the Bultaco factory founder, he hit the gossip sheets with some telephoto topless shots, married a glamorous pouting model, and then got divorced. Motorcycles were perforce in the background … until the call came from Ducati mid-2008. Would Sete come and do some testing, to try to help resolve the problems of Marco Melandri. Sete came, and was fast. There was even talk he might replace Melandri. In the end, he was picked up by private entrant Francisco Hernando for a new team, riding a Ducati with, he insists, close links to the factory. Thus tempted back out of the shadows, Sete is promising no miracle. And his first ’09 test at Sepang saw him go home with a shoulder ligament injury. He had to miss the Qatar tests. But GPWEEK found him in ebullient mood as he prepared for the final Jerez tests. Earlier that day, the doctor had given him the green light. And he was as happy as I’ve known since he scored the first of his nine GP wins on a Suzuki back in 2001. GPWEEK: So Sete, what was actually wrong, and how do we find you? SETE GIBERNAU: Recovering – today I went to a doctor and everything looks better, so … excited, to go back to Jerez and ride, man. Like the doctor said, it’s not mathematics, it’s not one and one makes two. I’ve had a plate in my shoulder for many years, which put the torsion one way. I had the plate off, and after one month in 20 Malaysia it created some new forces to the ligaments. One was trapped, and almost broken. Now they say it should be okay. But instead of all the technical stuff, I would say … I’m getting older. You are. Thirty six. The oldest rider on the grid (by a few months, from Capirossi). Are there any advantages? I have another perspective not only about racing but about life. I am in a complete different position to when I started. Then you have some goals, and more passion for things. You do many things because of passion. When you are older, you lose passion … but maybe you are more effective. In some things. But I’m not coming back to finish anything from my past career. I never try to look for things that have gone. I have complete new motivation. This is a new era. And I am excited because of that. I have an opportunity to do what I love most in life, and I am older. So that makes a challenge. I will never be happy if I go back and think that the first race will be a battle to win. My goal is to enjoy this great opportunity, and where it is going to take me, I don’t know. You, Rossi and Capirossi are the only guys left who raced 500 two-strokes, as well as 990s and now 800s. Do you have a preference? To me the 500s were more exciting. And the 1,000cc MotoGP was very exciting too. You could slide, and there were things that made the bike very demanding, but also when you really started to ride the bike like it needed to be ridden, it gave you great, great feelings. And now it’s just different. It’s not easier or more difficult, nothing. Just different. All these electronics, and the amount of corner speed the bike has right now, it’s impressive. The grip: not only the bikes also the tyres. To choose, I would go back to 500s. But it’s not my choice. To an extent, you’ll have to learn a completely new technique. That is another challenge. I stopped for two years, and things have gone a long step. It’s going to take me some time. And I’ll take my time; I’m going to have to adapt a lot. I guess electronics are the most noticeable difference. Yeah. The approach to racing is different. You cannot try to work in the same way as in the past. The information a rider has to give is different, what they ask you is different. The language between the technician and rider has changed. For me after two years out of the game … I gotta change, because they need another kind of information from me. And also the way I ride the bike and give them information has to change. It’s really different, and it’s challenging, for sure. Rossi’s guy Burgess says that the riders have to work harder in the pits now, with all the data to deal with. Before, you could sit down and explain, and