Meet the man behind Aus MotoGP™
He started on Team Brock and now heads up a dream General Manager role for the Aus MotoGP™. We chat to Craig Fletcher about how the sport has changed this year, how the riders are coping and what’s ahead for the race post-pandemic.
You live and breathe motorsport. What do you love about watching from the sidelines?
I’ve been fortunate to have a long association with motorsport and major events. I began by working with Peter Brock’s race teams for more than a decade, along with his high-performance road car division. Being a passionate motorcyclist myself, I enjoy watching the best riders on the planet at Phillip Island every year. The best part is watching MotoGP™ live - you just don’t get the full appreciation of the speed, sound, skill and atmosphere when watching on television.
When did you start riding and what keeps you getting back on the bike?
I have ridden bikes since I was 16. I started with a Honda SL70, then a Honda XR75 and then raced a Yamaha YZ80 which was the best bike in that class. I progressed to a Honda XL175 for recreation and road use and then to a Suzuki GSXF 750. Now I ride a Honda CBR1000R Fireblade. I enjoy the freedom of riding both on or off-road. There’s a real camaraderie when riders come together. This is evident at Phillip Island with riders from all walks of life, occupations, ages and genders. They come together because of a collective love of motorcycles which is pretty special.
Your job is a dream role. What’s the best thing about the gig?
The role involving Motorsport, Entertainment and Industry is quite diverse. No two days are ever the same. I thoroughly enjoy the MotoGP™ event due to the amazingly dedicated fans, the festival atmosphere, welcoming internationals from all corners of the globe, proudly putting Victoria on the world stage and the diverse audience it attracts. The Australian Grand Prix Corporation also produces the annual Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park and this, too, is an amazing event with an army of dedicated people behind the scenes pulling it all together.
Who are the Aussie riders on the rise? We’d love to know your pick for the next Casey Stoner.
I think Remy Gardner, son of 1987 world champion Wayne, is right on the doorstep of MotoGP™. Remy has signed with the Red Bull KTM team in Moto2 for 2021 and with a good season he will likely step into MotoGP™ in 2022. With Wayne providing invaluable knowledge and wisdom, Remy is certainly on the right track.
How can motorsport fans get the MotoGP™ experience this month?
The official Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages will keep fans up-to-date and behind the scenes of all the action and activities. Additionally, there’s the very interesting Aus MotoGP™ podcast In The Fast Lane currently featuring Kevin Schwantz.
How has your job and the industry changed due to COVID-19?
The pandemic has forced a lot of pain in every industry and forced a reinvention of themselves and the need to innovate. There are efficiencies we will find, and out of a very unprecedented environment, there will be operational and commercial benefits to take forward.
What changes have the riders had to make? How are they adjusting?
The global rights holders Dorna Sports S. L. have done an amazing job getting the World Championship up and running after the pandemic struck around the world, always with the safety of the riders, teams and officials at front of mind. Spectators haven’t been able to view the races live in most cases, and we all hope the fans will be returning in the not-too-distant future. The riders enjoy the engagement and will have noticed the passionate fans missing and the atmosphere a bit vanilla around the venue. Apart from wearing masks and distancing, I’m sure they are very much business as usual.
What can we expect to see at next year’s MotoGP?
We all can’t wait for the 2021 Aus MotoGP™ to return to the most picturesque and exciting track in the world, Phillip Island. The fans will see Aussie Jack Miller for the first time on a full factory backed Ducati as a real championship contender as he’s proved throughout the 2020 season. Also Remy Gardner with the factory KTM team in Moto2 and the very best domestic racers on track.