by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 166
Dubbed by Kenny Roberts his fastest ever rival, Franco Uncini won the 500 title in 1982. The next year he only narrowly survived a crash at Assen. Franco fell and instinctively scrambled for the edge of the track, into the path of swerving GP first-timer Wayne Gardner. His helmet came off, and they feared the worst. But his life was saved, and he raced again. For the past three decades he has been IRTA rider safety delegate at MotoGP. GPWEEK: What do you actually do? FRANCO UNCINI: Since 1993 I have worked very closely with the FIM, mainly with Claude Danis, and we did a good job improving the circuits. Now also with the additional help of the riders, because we do a Safety Commission meeting on day one. It’s open to all the riders, but mainly used to come Loris Capirossi, in the past; he is now still involved with race direction. Also Stoner in the past, Pedrosa sometimes, now also Dovizioso and sometimes Lorenzo ... but always Valentino Rossi. Now we usually have very small debates, because most of the circuits are very, very safe. Any particular examples of what you’ve done? A lot of run-off area. Mainly the run-off area. Racing is a lot safer, but for example your Assen crash ... that could always happen again. Yes. That is something you can’t avoid. It was a similar crash with Marco Simoncelli ... a different way, but a very similar incident. How different would it be for you today, with modern safety equipment? For sure different. Now the helmets are better, the leathers are much better. I was very lucky – unlucky for the incident, but very lucky for the result. I was very close to finish my life there, but luckily I was inside that limit, so I am here. Your helmet came off. Completely, because the impact ... the rivets that fixed the helmet came out. The handlebar pushed it out. I went 360 degrees, then the impact of my face with the asphalt. My nose used to be much better - you can see the cut. For that reason I went into a coma. Would a modern helmet have been better? Would it have stayed on? It’s difficult to say. All I can say is luckily I am here, and I am okay. Working with riders now, what is the difference from your day? Not much different. For sure the bikes, but the system... to win the rider has to go 110 percent. Thirty years ago, 20 years ago, ten years ago, and now. Fifty years ago the same ... to win you must go over the limit. The difference is the circuits, the safety, the surroundings, the bike. The method to win is the same. What do you think of today’s four-strokes? Iamhappytosay,whenIwonitwas with a Suzuki two-stroke. But I would like also to compete in this period. You never forget that fantastic feeling. A lot is different. What is your opinion on control tyres? I was on the side of having the same tyre for everybody, because there were some problems with some manufacturers. But it seems this can also create problems, because the tyre somehow works good in one bike and not so good in the other. And they control too much the quality of the tyre. When two or three years ago there were complaints that the tyre was too hard and too difficult to ride, Bridgestone said: “This is the tyre, you have to adjust your set-up to that tyre.” So I don’t know if it is a really good idea or not. Everybody has the same tyre, but at the same time you don’t have big improvements. I am in conflict. How about other restrictions – like a rev limit? We are in a very difficult period, the economical situation. We are obliged to have some changes. In this period, let me say I am in favour of this limit. It’s okay to have this kind of control, because finally what is important is also the show. Is a sport, but is also a show. But it is a motor sport. Yes, but let me give an example. Electronic controls are criticised. But I am in favour ... because this is very interesting to have on the road. It would limit accidents. For me is good to have research that can be used on the road. There would be a lot more crashes if you switched it off. Yeah. Now the rider has the confidence to open the throttle full in the middle of the turn, and the electronics keep the control. And that is good ... put this system on the road and it is very interesting. If there is a different surface, oil, or one section is wet, nobody warns you, like in racing. With this control we are going to stop many crashes. Surely introducing a control ECU, as is proposed, will stop this development. Yes, exactly. That is not so good. But it is something to close up the competition. It’s okay. Any other changes you’d like to see? No. I think also like we are doing now. Also the new CRT, you see today in practice the best CRT was 1.6 seconds from the top. And this is our first year. I am sure next year the CRT will be much closer. So I think it was a good choice, this CRT. What keeps you working in racing? When I stopped in 1985, I had a drilling company in Italy. The work was very good, but I was missing a lot the racing. At a certain moment there was the occasion to sell out. I went back to racing in 1992, to manage the Ducati Superbike team – Doug Polen and Giancarlo Falappa. We won the championship, but I was not very happy with the relationship with Ducati, and the system, giving bikes to the other teams. So I in 1993 I moved into grand prix, thanks to the GP riders of the time – they called me to become the Safety Delegate. 5 MINUTES WITH FRANCO UNCINI THe Italian won the 500cc title 30 years ago, and recently chatted with MICHAEL SCOTT 5 MINUTES 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: