Scott Jones, Ducati Corse
Having worked directly with Max Biaggi, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, to name only a few, Federica De Zottis’ experience in Grand Prix motorcycle racing is truly unique. For the past five years she has worked closely with the Ducati Team riders, her current main responsibility on race weekends being to assist with the press duties of Valentino Rossi. When I approached her about the possibility of an interview, she was kind enough to invite me to the Ducati hospitality at Estoril to share her story.
Scott Jones: Federica, you're currently MotoGP Press Manager for Ducati Corse. Could you please describe your job for us?
Federica de Zottis: My job is split into two parts, the part that I do in the office in Bologna, and the part that I do here [in the MotoGP paddock]. Of course they are linked together, but during the winter I spend most of the time at the office.
The longer I get to work in the MotoGP paddock, the more it strikes me how many talented people contribute to the show by working behind the curtain while a small percentage of personalities get most of the media attention. Rhys Edwards, whom you may recognize from his frequent position in Casey Stoner’s seat during shots of the Respol garage, is one of many people I’ve met who manage to perform roles of great responsibility while remaining friendly, approachable and warm individuals. When I learned something about his background in Formula One, I assumed he would have an interesting story to tell about his career and how he arrived at HRC, and he was generous enough to let me ask him some questions about his experience during the final GP weekend at Estoril.
Scott Jones: Rhys, you’re Communications and Marketing Manager at Honda Racing Corporation. Many of our readers may not know exactly what that means, so could you give a brief description of your role at HRC?
When I entered the media center at Losail a few weeks ago, I happened to be thinking about how many people contribute to our enjoyment of MotoGP. From the journalists who write the background stories and race reports, to photographers who show us things we can't see on video, to the large number of people who produce the TV feed, each has his or her role in bringing us closer to the racing and increasing our enjoyment of what we see.
Years ago I was an avid bicycle racer, very much inspired by watching Greg Lemond take on the world in a sport dominated by Europeans. The TV broadcasts featured the commentary of a man named Phil Liggett, who still works as one of the main voices of cycling broadcasts in English. Liggett's enthusiasm and passion for cycling are inseparable from my experience of watching those 1980s Tours de France (and every one since, in fact), and he has stuck in my mind as someone who will be, for many, as big a part of the events he described as the events themselves.
One of the great pleasures in watching Casey Stoner ride a MotoGP machine is the controlled way in which he manages to slide the bike through the corners. In an era when the spectacular slides once so beloved by fans have been tamed by electronic intervention, Stoner has managed to convince his engineers to limit the electronics sufficiently to give him enough control to slide the bike to help get it turned.
His ability has fascinated both fans and journalists around the world, and many have tried to get him to explain how he does it, but Stoner himself has always found it very hard to say exactly what he is doing. At Qatar, a group of journalists - including MotoMatters.com - pressed the Repsol Honda rider again to explain exactly where and when he chooses to slide the rear, and what benefits it provides. Though he protested it was hard - "It's really difficult to explain, so many people have asked me," he said - he went on to talk at length about what he does and why.