MarcVDS boss Michael Bartholemy, part 1: “we had an offer from Ducati to have a factory bike”

Michael Bartholemy is the MarcVDS Moto2 Team Manager and Scott Redding’s personal manager.  The Belgian has been involved with motorcycle racing for 23 years and he spoke to Bike Social this week about Redding’s Honda deal, his realistic MotoGP targets, the benefits of having Nicky Hayden on the project, Ducati’s flirtation with the Open Class, and the expectations of his Moto2 team this season.

 Michael Bartholemy at the 2013 end of season MarcVDS event

This is part one of the interview, keep your eye out for part two with Michael’s thoughts on how Scott will fare against the likes of Crutchlow and Hayden.

On Redding’s MotoGP deal

Scott Redding signed a two-year deal with Fausto Gresini’s MotoGP team back in August to ride on a production Honda, also known as the RCV1000R, in 2014 with a second season on the factory-spec bike currently ridden by Alvaro Bautista.  With Redding leading the Moto2 Championship for the majority of last season his talent was evident and many were scrambling for his signature but how did the Honda deal come about?

The Honda deal was actually something that started on our side.  MarcVDS were looking to enter MotoGP and one of the first bikes we looked at was either a Honda or Yamaha. By the time that we established that it was not possible to have a factory bike, we had already had contact with the satellite teams - Lucio Cecchinello and Fausto Gresini – as well as contact with HRC.  It was Gresnini who showed a lot of interest and he was keen to take Scott into his team so we sat down and they explained about the new bike (Production Honda).  After months of conversations, in the end we’ve made a good choice with the first year in the new category, the Open Class category, and the possibility of a factory bike in the 2nd year.  This was the only manufacturer that could offer this to us.  Well, we had an offer from Ducati to have a factory bike in the first year but compared to Honda it was not something that we looked into. 

Looking at the two year deal, I think it was a very good choice.

Redding's first outing on the Gresini Honda MotoGP bike

On Redding’s 2014 objectives

Michael has been Scott’s personal and team manager for four seasons but while Scott has moved to a different team and Michael remains in charge at the MarcVDS squad, how will this affect Scott’s objectives for his first season in MotoGP, will Michael still have the time to dedicate?

As his manager we spend a lot of time together, exchanging ideas but in the end he is the rider, he must make the decisions because he knows what he can do. His target at the moment is to be the first in the Open Class at the end of 2014 and to be the best Honda rider in the class.

With Nicky (Hayden), when we signed the contract with Gresini, we didn’t know he was coming back to Honda – everybody was thinking he was making plans with Aprilia – but I think it’s great to have him there, he’s a great rider. Even in the last two years on the Ducati he’s shown that he has the same potential as the other rider in the team.  He has a lot of experience coming into this project so we should benefit from him but we all know that one day the young guys can beat the old guys…it happens in all sports!

From our side, of course I hope Scott can beat him but also I hope that he can help make this project grow and be successful.

On the MarcVDS team for 2014

Having battled for the 2013 Moto2 World Championship with Scott Redding and Mika Kallio and eventually finishing in 2nd and 4th positions respectively, the team have re-signed Kallio and acquired 3rd place finisher, Esteve Rabat, as Redding’s replacement.  So, with the top two from last having moved up, Michael now has the next best two at his disposal but what are the expectations?

I am happy to have signed these two riders (Kallio and Rabat) and on paper they should be rider no. 1 and no.2 for 2014 and although we know that on paper is on paper and reality is reality but I’m happy with the package, I’m happy with the experience of the riders and I’m excited to go into the season and I hope we can battle for the Championship like we did last year.  It’s a tough class, for me it’s the most competitive class in the world. 

I’m impressed with the new parts, we had some new electronics at the last test, we were very competitive against the fastest lap in the race (Valencia). We have a settled team and with Tito coming in, I’m very excited about it.

Mika is with us on a one-year contract but Rabat has a two-year contract.

MarcVDS newest rider Esteve Rabat tests in Valencia

On his main Moto2 rivals

Moto2 is a notoriously close fought Championship with 14 different riders appearing on the podium last year but with old faces departing whilst new competitors arrive, who will be MarcVDS’s main rivals?

Johan Zarco, Torres, Terol, maybe one of the new guys perhaps Sam Lowes, you never know.  When you go for testing you can you use the bikes for 7 hours but at the race weekend it’s only 1 ½ hours per day, so it’s different. Nakagami will be there or thereabouts.  I think it will be interesting. Sometimes we will see Thomas Luthi, there are a bunch of good guys in this category.

Do you agree with Michael's comments?  Make sure you check back to read the second part of the interview.

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