The People Behind The Prize: JR’s Pit Crew

December 21, 2015

WorldSBK racing, although most people don’t really think about it, is the ultimate team sport. With so many people involved, long before the rider goes for a win on race weekends, the first member of the team is probably the person at KHI who gives the go-ahead to make a new showroom model – like the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R that Jonathan Rea will defend his World SBK Championship on in a few weeks’ time.

Closest to the rider, in terms of that overall Kawasaki team effort during race weekends, are his pit crew. These are the people he interacts with, the personnel who put the whole jig-saw puzzle together on track.
The normal structure, which KRT adhere to, is to have a crew chief, an electronics engineer, a chief mechanic, other mechanics and a tyre man. These are the guys you can see in the garage, working with the riders during practice sessions and races.
In this feature we will look at JR’s side of the garage, revealing more about his crew and who they are as people, not just the uniformed figures who can been seen on your TV on a race weekend.
Name: Pere Riba
Job Title: Crew Chief
Age: 46
Where are you from/live now? Matadepera, Spain.
Working/Qualification background? Ex-rider - 28 years' experience in racing life – ex-test rider for KHI.
How did you join KRT? 2003 to 2007 as a racer. 2005 to 2011 as test rider for KHI. 2010 to now as crew chief.
Describe yourself in 10 words? I love my work, it is my passion. If you have no passion for the racing world, it will be difficult to grow professionally. I try to learn something new every day.
Best thing about your job? The feeling when we achieve victories.
Hobby/sport/interests? Family and friends - golf (no time now!). To improve every day, professionally and personally.
What’s JR like - as person in the garage and away from work? He focuses your professionalism. He enjoys and respects every single person around him.
What is your biggest Christmas wish? To keep enjoying the racing and to see how my children grow happy everyday.
JR Says: “Pere is very calm in critical moments. He has a great handle on reality. He has been in my shoes before at world championship level. So when he looks at my data, he looks as if he is riding the bike. He is so intelligent. I honestly underrated how intelligent he was before I joined the team. I have no bad points to say about him! I really respect that when we have finished work, and Pere knows that we have finished work, you can have a great night out with him, and you know where you stand. And as soon as we get to the garage we know it is work time.”
Name: Paolo (Paolesio) Marchetti
Job Title: Engine Management System engineer
Age: 37
Where are you from/live now? From Rome, now live in Perugia, Italy.
Working/Qualification background? 17 years in WSBK, from 2003 with Kawasaki.
How did you join KRT? I entered Kawasaki with the Bertocchi team in 2003, and then moved to PSG-1 from 2005 to 2007. From 2008 I have had a direct contract with KME.
Describe yourself in 10 words? Tall, blonde, sexy… ha-ha! I love the feeling of looking at your bike coming out of the corner faster than everyone else!
Worst thing about the job? Cannot really think of something bad but a delayed flight is quite bad!
Best thing about your job? To be at the edge of knowledge of motorcycles and the adrenaline rush before red light goes off.
Best race to work at? Phillip Island and Portimao.
Hobby/sport/interests? I love music, climbing, hiking, astronomy and photography. I also love Enduro.
What’s JR like - as person in the garage and away from work? Outside the garage he is an incredibly nice person, easy, friendly and a party animal :). As soon as the visor goes down he becomes a race monster, focused, talented; you can be sure he will try to pass!
What is your biggest Christmas wish? A PS4?!. Honestly my biggest wishes are too personal :)
JR Says: “Paolo is probably the most human electronics engineer I have come across. He is a younger guy and he’s learned a lot. He is very clever and he does not always have to understand all my comments to make great changes to the set-up. He must have ‘square eyes’ because he is constantly adapting the strategies, focused on looking at a monitor all day every day. All my side of the garage are Spanish but he is the one Italian, so when Barcelona played AS Roma recently in the Champions’ League football - and Barcelona hammered them - Paolo was not too happy! He has been spoiled with food culture in Italy so he is difficult to please at the dinner table!
Name: Oriol (Uri) Pallares Iranzo
Job Title: Chief Mechanic
Age: 33
Where are you from/live now? Sant Boi de Llobregat, Spain.
Working/Qualification background? CEV, World Endurance Champ, WSSP, WSBK.
How did you join KRT? I have known Guim (Roda, Team Manager) and Alvar Garriga (Technical Manager) for many years. In 2011 they gave me the opportunity to join his project and I will be always grateful to them for that.
Describe yourself in 10 words? Calm, passionate, competitive, friendly, 10 words are too many!
Worst thing about the job? The summer break in WSBK is too long.
Best thing about your job? My job…
Best race to work at? Maybe Jerez. I love the racetrack and I will never forget that we became World Champions there.
Hobby/sport/interests? Motocross, bike racing in general and other sports.
What’s JR like - as person in the garage and away from work? Honestly he is the same person. After one year working together I am so lucky to feel like I have a special relationship with him.
What is your biggest Christmas wish? At least to repeat the results achieved in 2015.
JR Says: “I spent a lot of time with Uri, and Turu, at the beginning of the season when I came to Barcelona. Uri looked after me really like a brother. I would go as far as to say that he is a really close friend of mine. I confided in him with the most personal stuff and I would say he is one of the most trustworthy human beings I know. That relationship off the bike also transfers well to the on-bike stuff because when I go out to race I trust him with my life. He oversees, and is in charge of, all the work that goes on the bike. I know him and his wife well, we go out to dinner. The bond with all the team is strong but he is a special kind of guy as he is never super-high or super-low. He is always quietly spoken and is probably clever enough to go on in the sport and become a great crew chief in the future. He is forever torque checking my front wheel spindle. He will torque it up, then go away, then check it again - and again and again. He is forever double and treble checking stuff to the point whereby I sometimes say “Uri, stop it!”
Name: Arturo (Turu) Perez Marcet        
Job Title: Mechanic
Age: 28
Where are you from/live now? Rellinars, Spain
Working/Qualification background? I studied competition mechanics in Monlau. I also worked as a carpenter while I was studying.
How did you join KRT? I know Guim from the ‘race world’ and I asked him for a job. In 2008 I started to work with him. We started as a private WSS team and in 2009 we became the official World Supersport Kawasaki team.
Describe yourself in 10 words? I’m a happy guy that loves bikes, races and winning.
Worst thing about the job? To disassemble the pitbox when the races are finished…
Best race to work at? At Silverstone in 2012 when we won the first WSBK race with Loris Baz.
Hobby/sport/interests? Enduro riding, racquet ball. Spending time with my girlfriend, friends and family. Resting at home.
What’s JR like - as person in the garage and away from work? He’s completely different in these two situations. In the garage he’s professional, ambitious and definite. Outside the garage he’s friendly - he opened the door of his house to us and he is a happy husband and father!
JR Says: “Turu is the same age as me so we get on well. We have a lot of similar interests. In Barcelona at the start of the year, me Uri and Turu were like the kids of the team. We motocross together and Turu is super-good fun. Over a weekend he is always the one with a smile on his face, whether it be half past seven in the morning or half past 10 at night. He does not take himself too seriously. He is always a guy with funny stories and if there is any mischief to get up to he is normally in and around it… or surrounding it! Uri and Turu work together well on the bike. Uri and he are both quite similar level on a motocross bike. Turu also falls in love quite easy. We nicknamed him ‘Doctor Love’ because he fell head over heels after a week. He is a great guy.”
Name: Pau Raruell Ramoneda
Job Title: Tyre Man
Age: 27
Where are you from/live now? Sabadell/Barcelona
Working/Qualification background? I worked for seven years in the Mediterranean and Spanish Championships and for five years in the Sherco factory.
How did you join KRT? Because of Turu.
Describe yourself in 10 words? I am so serious about my job. Every time I’m ready for all things.
Worst thing about the job? Nothing to complain about.
Hobby/sport/interests? Motorbikes, being in the mountains, mountain biking, football and dogs.
What’s JR like - as person in the garage and away from work? He is very professional when we're working and also he's like family, He's a good person.
What is your biggest Christmas wish? Win the Superbike World Championship in 2016.
JR Says: “Pau is our new tyre guy and I do not know him that well yet. He is the young guy on our side. He is another really good guy and has known Uri and Turu for quite a long time. He comes from the Spanish championship and has good experience on bikes. He is very quiet as a person but he is just new in the team so I expect that the infectious atmosphere will rub-off on him. Right now he is really keen to learn, asking Pere questions all the time. He has big boots to fill because last year Pere Villanova was probably over-qualified to be a tyre man and he has moved over to work for Showa. Pau’s motivation to learn is high because it is such an important job assisting Pere Riba in the planning of a test, or a race weekend. Pau is quite mysterious now, he could be a double agent, as he is softly spoken and does not say so much!”