How do you build a race-winning MotoGP strategy?

This week our guest is Santi Hernández, head mechanic on Marc Márquez’s team. He is going to tell us how to implement a race-winning strategy.

Hello to all the Box Repsol fans!

I’d like to take you behind the scenes and give you a track engineer’s perspective of what it’s like to be part of a GP, from the moment we arrive at the circuit to when we go home.

For us, a GP weekend begins on Wednesday. The first thing we do is set up the box structure where we will be working. On Thursday we meet up with the HRC engineers and all of our specialists who work on tyres, suspension, brakes, etc. We use these meetings to decide what to try out and test during the weekend before the race.

Our strategy always depends on the weather and the problems it could cause. Friday and Saturday are dedicated to race preparation and studying which tyre will help us perform to our full potential. We also make adjustments to the frame depending on the rider’s style and the track conditions. Lastly we work on the electronic ignition system, which is also very important. By Sunday we’re ready for the warm up, which we use to make sure that everything is working well. It’s our last chance to test any final details before the race. When all the decisions have been made and we’re on the track, the only thing left for us to do is to help Marc by communicating all the information he needs for the race using the pit board.

We write down all the information we share with the rider, and we keep these reports in a folder which is sent to Japan. We also use the reports to keep track of what we’ve tried and what’s worked well, so we can use this information when planning the weekend.

The riders always give us their input on how they feel on the bike and any problems they notice, and they share their perspective on how we can improve. Then, we draw up a report so the HRC engineers know how to improve the bike. We’ve also got a map of the circuit that helps us speak with the rider about which turns are the most challenging. The rider has got his own documents with all of the information about the circuit, electronic system, and gear switching, which he uses to understand and prepare for the training sessions and to remember things from previous years.

Working with Marc is easy because he knows how to communicate what he needs. This is very important for us as specialists because it lets us know what to change on the bike and helps us solve problems. The information the rider gives us helps us to understand the problem; that way, with the help of telemetry, we can decide how to solve them. We always make decisions together with all the members of the team before we meet with Marc. Once we’ve drawn the necessary conclusions, Marc and I make the final decision together.

My biggest responsibility is to find the best way to solve problems, always keeping my pit crew in mind. The rider carries a lot of weight in the decision-making process, but when he trusts his team, he knows that they are there to help him improve and go faster. With Marc, we usually have no problems getting the job done. The area where the rider has the most say is in choosing the tyres because he knows better than anyone else how they work, how they react, and how they wear. We always give our input from a technical point of view and using the telemetry information, but in the end it’s important to listen to the rider’s ideas and how he feels on the bike.

I hope that now you’ve got a better idea of how we help Repsol Honda riders during a GP, and from now on when you see us during the weekend working, having fun, and suffering by their side, you’ll understand the role we play in the races.

Best wishes to all the Box Repsol fans!