Who the hell is Davide Tardozzi?
He won the first ever world super bike race, he managed some of the greatest names in WSB history during his time as team boss at Ducati and he’s on the lookout for the next Rossi.
“I raced in the 250cc GP world championships in ’84 and ’85. It was very bad. I was a privateer, my chief mechanic was my wife and we had no money. Not just tight for cash, but absolutely no money. Some friends came along to help every now and then. All I learned was that racing at top level is very expensive.
In the meantime I stated to work for Bimota. I had to earn some money somehow. This is what led me to the grid of the first ever world superbike race, at Donington Park in 1988. It was funny, the bike was a Bimota YB4, it was way ahead of its time. It was the first bike on the grid with fuel injection, among many other things. I qualified in second position behind British racer Roger Burnett, but I won the race. I had some fantastic racing with Marco Lucchinelli, we always raced well together. In the second race, me and Luchinelli stretched the lead we had over everyone else to more than a minute. I really wanted to win, so I overtook on the last lap but came off line to overtake a back marker and crashed. The worst thing was that the first round was the only round where they awarded points based on your position from both races, so I left Donnington with zero points, despite winning the first race. It was a really bad thing from the FIM. Complaining now will get me nowhere, so I don’t. In the years since I stopped racing, some friends of mine calculated that if the points scoring system was as it continued to be from round two, I would have been World champion in 1988. I know it was 25 years ago now, but that kind of pissed me off.
At the same time I was racing in the Italian national championship on the Bimota, in an effort to try and develop the bike. It wasn’t really ready for WSB, so while I won five races on it, it also still needed a lot of sorting out. I won the Italian championship in ’88, so it wasn’t all bad. My favourite racing moment is Hockenheim in 1988, racing guys like Joey Dunlop, Fred Merkel and Luchinelli. Fred was an amazing talent and deserved to win the championship, a top guy for sure. Anyway, the racing was amazing, I had a great time and won both races and it helped me forget what had happened at Donington.
In hindsight I was not good enough to operate at the top level as racer. Racing gave me the truth about that. In my opinion each job you do in life has a shelf life, when you stop, you should really stop. That’s why I have absolutely no wish to ride a race bike. I’ve done one parade lap at World Ducati week a few years back in twenty years I’ve ridden for less than five minutes.
I was grateful for the insight though as I moved my career from riding to managing a team. I learned that a good manager should know exactly how his rider thinks, and that you should give him everything he needs, not everything he deserves.
I worked for Ducati as a manger in WSB for twenty years, I helped them to eight riders titles, I’m used to hearing people complaining about the fact that Ducati always win. Being the manager of the MotoGP team for Ducati was my wish, but it didn’t happen for many reasons. Sometimes when you’re very good at your job, it’s difficult to move, I sometimes wonder if people thought it would be better for everyone to keep me in the WSB team.
Ducati should pray everyday to the WSB god as without this championship Ducati could not be the Ducati that it is now. On the flip side, WSB have to thank Ducati as well as for a long time Ducati were the only factory supported team in the championship, they effectively raced themselves. It was good for both parties and both should be grateful.
I moved on from Ducati, then stopped working as manager at BMW as I deserved a break. Now I’m thinking that if, and only if, the right opportunity came along, maybe I would do something in management again. Right now my wish is to work with young riders, maybe to find the next Valentino Rossi. I already have one name for you to listen out for. Edo Sintoni, keep his name in your brain and look out for it in Moto3 in 2015.”