OFFICIAL PARTNER_ Team Management & International Networking
A RACE of dreams
One fine afternoon, while wrapping up the last project before vacation (so we thought), we had an interesting offer: to be the official partners of Estoril 500 Angotruck. The “Le Mans style” endurance race in Portugal, in one of the most mythical tracks in Europe. It sounded like the perfect opportunity for a start-up. We were not wrong about it. What we didn't know was that inside a big challenge, a bigger one was about to come up.
"First, they ignore you"
Little could be done to promote a post-championship race after the Moto GP. That was 'common sense'. A little less still in such short notice, (shorter budget,) and having in mind that Endurance was not as sexy as Speed. Not much seemed in our favour so, as sensible professionals, we thought: ‘Why not?’
All we knew was that, by then, we would be able to see Rossi's tire prints on the circuit. With a little imagination, we could touch them and still feel the warmth. That would be the day that riders and fans would step on the track where living legends had raced just days before. We could work with that.
The first step would be to bring to the race something that could have some PR appeal. An international team could bring together riders with influence, activate their sponsors' channels and that would be welcomed exposure for us. Except there were no international pilots signed up, or even aware of the event.
So, in less than two months, we'd have to track down riders, convince them, convince their sponsors, procure high-performance bikes, organise teams, and get the training going. Simple. All we had to do was to promote a race, AND assembling an international high profile squad. Sixty days. No previous experience. "Right..."
"Then, they laugh at you"
"Who are they?" "What are they thinking?" and "It shall be fun to watch" are remarks that one should get used to when going 'virgin' into an industry, on kamikaze mode. It was almost entertaining, have we had time for that.
Researching, finding people and doing our homework was not an obstacle. Not even getting people to trust a start-up from some corner of the world, for the sake of a national event – we were that passionate. Timing, sponsors and resources, on the other hand, were not there. But we did know a thing or two about racing. We had been exposed enough to gather a phone number or two. And whatever else we had to learn, we did. We did learn fast.
We had our share of patronising smiles for encouragement. But we’ve also earned a lot of respect from a network of people with the same kind of crazy, who pointed us out in the right directions. Our nerve was enough to intrigue people at Kawasaki, Aprilia, Ducati Iberia, Moto Guzzi and Bimota and soon enough people started to reach out to us. 'Pros' all over Europe, Africa, Latin America, USA, and Australia. We had enough crew to fill six endurance teams. (Six!)
Despite the great temptation we kept the eye on the ball and met it halfway. We'd form two teams: A male team and - behold! - a female team. Not a bad PR for a couple of rookies. The game was on.
"Then, they fight you"
Race around the corner, we were ready to roll, and male team 'Rider 1' has a spectacular crash in Chile. Unsettling as it was, it happens in racing. As an apology he suggested a friend take his place. The current multi-champion in Latin America in two categories. Grand news for us, but not for 'Riders 2 and 3' who felt unease enough to drop out. Male team down. It's okay, we still had the female team.
Within the week, out of the blue, an Italian lady self-appointed as the “girls’ manager” and got in touch to expand her little promo. News dropped like a bomb. As we fought the scam, 'Rookie 1' was dismissed, 'Rookie 2' followed, and 'Star Rider' was getting nervous. Two teams down, one week to go.
The castle was crumbling before our very eyes. It felt as if it had never been so hard to believe in anything at all. We had so much to prove, and so little left. At that point we could accept the failure, or we could aim at the podium. After being smirked at, failure was not an option.
We got on the phone with the Chilean Vicente Leguina, 10 times champion in Stocksport 600cc and 1000cc; and Vania Medrano, 10 times champion among men in Motocross, Stock 600cc and SuperMotard. PR was already running on their side of the world, no one could fail.
We were bound by an unwavering trust in each other, and a burning desire of leaving our own track marks on that circuit against all odds. For us, faith was all. For them, one sentence was enough: “Get on a plane tomorrow.”
"And then you win"
Fire attracts fire. On the same day, António Moreira, a former Portuguese endurance champion joined us. And so did one of the best technical teams in the championship – Iamaloures– bringing along the Yamaha R6 that rode André Carvalho to the higher spot on the podium for three seasons. Luck was coming back.
The first team meeting was two days before the race. We then met at the box on the night before for the bike setup. We walked the track for the first time by dawn, and by the end of the day, we went to the podium. Twice. We got the 1st place in 600cc Stock, the 3rd in general, and the new woman’s speed record in Estoril.
As for the original project, we had 87 riders providing us with an amazing show on track. In the pits, 33 teams, an exclusive box for kids, a "recovery box" with massage, a free balcony for schools and we still contributed to International Medical Assistance (AMI) in each ticket sold.
For us, the All Access team, Estoril 500 Angotruck was more than an endurance race; it was a race of dreams. Where riders from three continents met for the same passion, and those who truly endured met the big win. We won it all.