We go behind the scenes with the team Aspar mechanic, who shares some stories about Bagnaia and rituals on the grid
Among the many people operating in the world championship paddock is Paolo Mancin, who has been with team Aspar for more than fifteen years. We had a chat with the Bolognese mechanic, who gave us some insight into how it was to work with MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia, and more besides.
Which rider retains a place in your heart?
“Definitely Pecco. Other than the Spaniards, with whom it’s hard to instil a friendship because you don’t see them so often, I developed a special bond with Pecco, different to what I have with the other Italians. We’d spend a lot of time together, right from the start in November 2013. He stayed at my place several times, when he needed to go to Turin for sponsor events or something and we’d go there and back together. He has an amazing family, who always invite us to events. Usually, at this time of year, when he heads home from Pesaro, he’ll stop here and pick up tortellini, which he calls cappelletti. I wind him up now and ask, “But will you still come and get tortellini this Christmas or will you ask Bottura?” He’s a fantastic person”.
The pre-race ritual instilled with Bagnaia
Do you have a ritual or something you do with all your riders?
“I’m quite an extroverted, jokey person and team Aspar has always let me be like that. This attitude of mine often helps to put the riders at ease. I also always try to make the riders understand that they are the stars and so they should never be scared to ask for whatever they need. They need to be spontaneous. The classic rider ritual is the hug on the grid before the start. This is something that began with Pecco, between me and him. And I’ve continued to do it – it became an important thing with Sergio (Garcia) too.”
And who’s the nicest rider you’ve worked with?
“Definitely Andrea Migno. ‘Mig’ entertained us all year long, both in and outside the garage. He’s number 1 in that respect”.
How's your relationship with Garcia?
“He’s an introverted person, very different to Izan (Guevara). You have to draw the words out of him and his nature means that he is less likely to joke around, so communication is different. In contrast, you have to try to keep Izan still in the garage, he’ll laugh, joke, jump on you. The funniest times with Sergio were when we watched videos with his goats and horses, we’d laugh a lot. I have a great relationship with him too”.
Do you have a Pecco story to share with us?
“Well, he always comes to see us in the garage and one afternoon, when he was in Moto2, he found a glue gun lying around and came to play a joke on our telemetrist Barabba (Roberto Dalla Nora). He started gluing the plastic boxes that contain the electronics spares, and even the computer mouse. I have proof! He was generally very sweet with me. When I went to visit him at home, he would let me sleep in his bed and he'd slept on the sofa, which tells you a lot about his human side, which is fantastic. Another thing – when he was with us, we didn’t have the most competitive bike and we told him, “You have to do your best with what you’ve got”. It sounds banal, but it’s not. He took this phrase literally and has turned it into a career mantra".