TECH 3 AND CAL CRUTCHLOW
“I think the whole paddock loves to
come here,” he beams. “This is a special
event. This is a special track. Everybody
knows about The Corkscrew. Everybody
knows about California. Yes, we have three
races in the USA, with Austin and Indy, but
this was the first one to happen, so it’s
always going to be the most special.”
With Smith’s bikes to the right side of the
garage and Crutchlow’s to the left, there
are around 25 people teeming about in the
limited space, including tech support from
Yamaha, Bridgestone and shock supplier
Ohlins. For now, it’s the left side that
Poncharal is focusing on, but nothing hands
on. That’s the domain of crew chief Daniele
Romagnoli, data engineer Nicolas Goyan
and mechanics Julien Lajune, Sebastien
Letort and Steve Blackburn.
“When the team was a lot smaller, I was
much more involved,” says Poncharal.
“Now we are more than 40 people in total.
You have to have the right people in place
and you don’t want to interfere – especially
with the technical department – because if
you don’t follow it lap by lap or session by
session, you are lost. It would be
pretentious to think you could come in and
occasionally make a decision, so I have no
more technical involvement at all. But
that’s OK: as the president, I have a lot
to deal with the sponsors, Yamaha and
(MotoGP organizers) Dorna.”
In contrast, founding partner Coulon,
complete with mad scientist glasses and an
Andy Warhol shock of hair, is still heavily
hands-on and steering the tech side.
“Guy is 100 percent the technical guy,”
says Poncharal. “He doesn’t like meetings,
doesn’t really like dealing with the media
and doesn’t like to talk too much. I’m not a
technician, but what I love to do is to run a
company. And we both really love the sport.
“I think in every association you need
to have complimentary relationships.
We’ve never, ever had an argument or a
fight, so I think this one works.”
The Tech 3 Yamaha relationship began in
2001 and, in the role of satellite, the risk and
– hopefully – reward of finding and nurturing
talent has always been fundamental to its
continuing health. But when it came time to
invite Crutchlow to join the team, Poncharal
concedes fifth overall in the 2010 World
Superbike Championship for Yamaha
hardly made him a sure thing.
“A lot of riders who became successful
in MotoGP were coming from the 250
class – guys like Pedrosa and Valentino
Rossi,” Poncharal says. “A widely-held
belief was that people coming from
Superbikes would never make it in MotoGP.
We tried with James Toseland in 2004 and
’07. He was a double champion in World
Superbike, so there was a lot of hope, but
he never really managed the transition.
“Then we hired Ben Spies in 2010,” he
adds, referring to the ’09 World Superbike
Champion. “He was rookie of the year in
MotoGP, had two podiums and took pole in
Indy. That was all great, but still we were
(BELOW), Tech 3’s
technical yin to
management-savvy yang, lives
and breathes bikes.
embroiled in prep
and setup on the
has built a 300cc,
racer just for fun.
A ONE-TRACK MIND
Rule 1 for satellite riders hoping to make the next big
leap: make sure there are more factory bikes behind
you than in front of you. Cal Crutchlow has in 2013.
“From my perspective, in a perfect
world, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere
else. Tech 3 feels like home”