I sat down with Cathryn to discuss her experiences working for Pramac Racing and Marc VDS as a trainee press officer.
Interview from October 2018.
What stemmed your interest in MotoGP?
My dad used to race motorbikes before I was born and he was always interested when I was little. So, it was just bred into me. It came from my dad and my mum. But I think what sparked my actual interest rather than it being ‘something dad watches’ was the personalities of some riders, like Rossi. I’ve known him my whole life, I’ve not known anyone else.
At what point did you realise you wanted to work in MotoGP / Press officing?
- Did they come hand in hand?
When I was little, I wanted to race motorbikes. Like I wanted to be Rossi. But my mom did not allow this. So, I think I was just really a fan for a long time, I don’t really know what happened but I just woke up one morning like “Okay, I want Ian Wheeler’s job” because we were Facebook friends for a long time before I decided he was who I wanted to be. Then I sent Ian messages asking what his job was specifically and immediately thought “Yep, this is for me.”
Your first paddock experience was in 2015 at Silverstone, how did the weekend “open your eyes” to paddock life?
- How does paddock life differ to being a regular fan?
I think it was so much more relaxed than I ever expected. Not that I imagined that everyone ran around and didn’t talk, but I expected like chaos constantly. But, it’s just relaxed, there’s no drama, no stress. When you’re in hospitality the riders are just right there in front of you, they’re just people. During my first experience I must have walked around the entire paddock all weekend with my eyes taped open. I spent a lot of time with Anthony West and he would always say things like “Valentino Rossi is just a person” and I would just laugh! But he was what made me realise that it was just normal people who ride bikes quite fast. But to be honest, I have never been to a race in just general admission like my dad, I’ve only known the paddock. At all? Ever.
2015 did not only represent your debut to the MotoGP class as Jack Miller also joined the class that year.
I was a Jack fan since he rode the little red white and blue bike (Caretta Technology Forward Racing) and to see the progression from that little 125cc bike through the whole Moto3 deal to reach Ajo Team was special, and the whole championship campaign was, for me, one of the most impressive. He did all that he could in Valencia and it was just so upsetting that the people helping – Arthur was further down and Danny Kent ran on. So, the only person he had was Isaac Viñales against the two Alex’s (Marquez and Rins). But I think it was a very impressive campaign, and the fact that his attitude was “I want to go to MotoGP, so I’m going to do it” and turned down offers from top Moto2 teams. Like Marc VDS are arguably one of the most successful teams in Moto2. Even this year with Bagnaia and Oliveira, VDS have still been up there. Look at Joan Mir, Alex (Marquez)has been rather unsettled this season due to the changes in the team. But viewing his overall time with a very experienced team with – in my opinion – two of the best team bosses, including team principle Michael Batholemy.
To see Jack get to MotoGP, to be almost 20 and reach the top class, while dealing with all of those who had an opinion, I think that it was the proudest I’ve ever been as a fan. I mean for his win in Assen there were definitely parties in my house, but to watch him grow a lot over the first year and become much more level-headed. I think notgoing to Moto2 was the making of him as a rider. I think that if he had gone to Moto2 he might’ve floundered, it could’ve gone badly. But everything happens for a reason, at the time I didn’t think it was the right decision and I didn’t agree one bit, but I think it was the best thing for him and I think that he was right… don’t let him know I said that!
The pair of you opted for a switch-up for 2016, moving to the Marc VDS camp. What was your first impression of the team, compared to Pramac?
I LOVED my first weekend with Pramac, and I don’t think I would ever change that first experience for the world. The guys at Pramac were so welcoming, not a lot of them spoke a lot ofEnglish – and being Italian in an Italian team, they had no reason to. But they were so welcoming and even when my dad got to come in there wasn’t enough that they could do. But when I went to work with VDS, Ian was immediately there. It was like “make yourself at home, this is where you put your bag. We’ve got stuff to do, let’s go.” It was a much faster-more paced, because they knew I was experienced, and it was being thrown into the deep end. “You are the Moto2 press officer for the weekend I’ll show you how to do it once and then off you go.” So I think, back to basics, the change between working for a Ducati team and a Honda team was that even in the garage it was much more relaxed with Pramac, as with Honda it was much more “we are VDS” and with Jack being a factory Honda rider at the time it was much more like “okay this is where we do the work” and the fact that I was the Moto2 Marc VDS press officer for the weekend also made it a lot more serious. But the boys, I couldn’t thank them enough. Ian had said “right they don’t do as they’re told, it’s like herding cats.” But they were fine! Anything I asked, they did. They were well behaved for me. Maybe scared, but well behaved haha.
How did it feel working with Jack this time around, considering you’re a fan?
- What did your job entail?
Where MotoGP was concerned, with the commitment with Honda, obviously the commitment between Moto2 and Honda are different. Jack was signed with Honda and Tito was signed with VDS, so my work was predominantly with Moto2 so I was in the garage during sessions, not watching every move and taking notes every session, but having a rough idea of what happened so that I knew in a press statement you need: How their day went, how they felt, how the team feel, and what we are doing in the next session, and how do we get better – unless they’re first, then it’s “how are you so fantastic??” “How have you done this??”. But my work was mostly with Moto2 and it was just press statements, how to look after them when Dorna or the MotoGP website come to speak to them and show that I have recordings from the riders. But it was mostly working with Moto2.
Working alongside Jack was crazy, when I first interviewed Jack on the Sunday of Silverstone my hand was shaking and Ian was laughing. To be the “big fan” and get to work with my Jack – It’s like working with Rossi – if Valentino Rossi even breathed in my general direction I would go into cardiac arrest!
Marc VDS brought a lot of paddock characters into your work experience, including the likes of Tito Rabat and Alex Marquez, both of which you get on well with. Would you agree that the relationship with the team as a whole is as important as those you specifically work for?
Yes. I think that if you didn’t make the effort with every person you encounter – even in hospitality when you see the way the mechanics interact with everyone else, with the MotoGP team or with Marc Van Der Straten himself when he’s there, it’s a very collegiate environment. There’s not one person there that doesn’t offer something to the team. Everyone is as important as each other and I think that, if I went in like “okay I’m here to work with Moto2, none of you other people matter” it would’ve made a really uncomfortable situation. The team are the most important in my opinion… maybe the riders a little too. I think also that the bond that each rider individually has with their set of mechanics is important. It’s different for all four of the riders that I worked with had different bonds entirely between the likes of Franco (Morbidelli) and Pete Benson, and then Tito and his team boss had a completely different relationship to anyone else. They’re all different people. You see them on the TV as these jokers, but when it comes to the way that they work, it’s the most fascinating thing to even stand and watch. Like in Moto2 when Franco comes in mid-session it’s Benson that he speaks to and they all have the headsets and that’s how they all communicate from Pete to Michael on pit wall to Stuart, who’s the main mechanic. To watch the chain of events, that’s the most fascinating to me.
How was your professional introduction to Alex Marquez, considering your past favouritism of Miller and the pair’s heated rivalry in the 2014 Moto3 season?
My introduction to Alex was not one I looked forward to. It was one that if I thought about it before I went I felt physically sick, in my head I was like “ugh this is my job, my dream, this is what I want. I would give up anyone and anything to do this.” And this boy was someone who I felt at one time in my life, I could not communicate with in a civil way. But, there is not one person on that grid who races to finish second, or fifteenth or twenty-third. They all go there to win. So, I understand from Alex’s point of view, Alex did nothing wrong… technically. Arguably at Aragon, Aragon during that championship campaign was rough. I think it was too much personally, race direction didn’t see it that way, fine. There’s no point in losing sleep. The people who got to watch it from more angles than I did didn’t deem it rough, done. You know Jack won a race in MotoGP before Alex won one in Moto2 – everything happens for a reason. So, when I was introduced to Alex I was quite quiet. Like it wasn’t awkward because Alex is so lovely. He’s not this “Alex Marquez brother of Marc” he’s Alex who’s a little bit quieter and more reserved, very very focused and has the most ridiculous work ethic in the world. He’s very much “how do we fix it, I want it fixed and I want to know how we’re doing it. Let’s talk”. Also, at our introduction I saw Alex from a fan point of view. Changing my perspective from “Jack Miller super-fan” to “Alex Marquez’s training press officer” was not as difficult as I expected because he was so nice.In my head I had him as a horrible, nasty person, he’d beaten Jack and I’d hated him for it. I could never look sideways at him. But he was just so nice. Like a little puppy! Simply lovely. He was who I took my first ever statement from and I was just – I can talk for Northern Ireland, and I’m not a shy person, but he was 2014 World Champion like c’mon! Give me a minute! But he himself knew what I needed from him better than I did at that point. So, he knew the specific criteria I needed from the simple “how was your day?” question given. He was arguably the most helpful. But he’s been doing this for years and so has Marc. Marc is so media orientated, he and Vale for me are the best regarding media because they know exactly what is needed. So, for Alex to have been surrounded by someone like Marc has been a massive help for himself regarding media duties.
Both of the 2015 and 2016 experiences occurred at the British GP at Silverstone, however for 2017 you travelled to Spain to work at the Aragon GP. How does a European round compare to your home GP?
If I had it my way I would have stayed in Britain, because I knew nothing else. But my big cousin was really inconsiderate and got married the weekend of the British GP, I so debated just not going to go to Silverstone! But when I spoke to Ian I picked Spain because I speak enough Spanish and I’ve been to Spain before and know it. My dad who always comes with me had been before so – not that we knew Aragon – we knew that Spain was our next most obvious option to go to. Italy owns my heart and I’ve never been, but I don’t want my first experience of Italy to be the madness that is Mugello where you don’t even have time to breathe. Not to mention the crazy VR fans from Sepang 2015 possibly being there. I think that the fact that the VR fan club came out and said “these people don’t represent what we are, we don’t want them associated with us” I think is a really big thing because for a long time Valentino stayed quiet. But he’s a person! He is a human. He felt wronged by Marquez, Dorna and the court of appeal. He felt attacked, so why should he come out and say “oh but be kind” – you wouldn’t! I wouldn’t if it were me, you wouldn’t, my mum wouldn’t! And I understand, I get it that he’s out there, he’s a public figure, he’s supposed to set the example but I think that people forget that he’s a person and that he has this tribe of youngsters behind him in the Academy, he has a tribe of young men who he has to teach. I think if he had spoken out, it would have been insincere or forced and that’s never been him. So, I think for him to not talkwas the best thing. – I don’t even know what this question was anymore! It was about Aragon and the difference to home! But we talked about Mugello haha. I think that with Aragon – Jerez is the first round where they come back home so it’s a bit mental and Ian was like “Please, no” and he said that Aragon would be best because it’s the last one before the fly-aways and it was somuch more relaxed. The paddock wasn’t empty but there were much less people than at the British Grand Prix that’s what I noticed about Valencia and Assen, the paddocks are much more relaxed It’s so much more chilled, you see the riders around a lot more. I think it’s because we’re Europe, but we’re also separatedthat’s it. This is where we come. But yeah, I think it is just more relaxed. But I would go back to Aragon, if you didn’t take your phone you would not know that this place was anywhere outside of the 1800s. We stayed in this tiny little family-run hotel with a dog that just roamed the hotelin Monroyo, it was a half hour drive from the track but it was so delightful. It’s a stunning part of the world. Maybe not the best for spectators but I was in the garage watching it on the tv. I also feel like the European fans have more respect than the British fans. We are loud and “we are here, we are us, deal with it” yeah I think it also comes down to simply giving the riders space. Like these guys are humans. It’s much more respectful. Like I have seen Valentino Rossi with the same eyes that I can see you with, and that’s enough for me. I would love to meet him! I think if he touched me I would die of excitement. But it’s enoughto know that you’ve been simply near these people without intruding on them.
How did it feel to experience a podium celebration as part of a team, as you did with Petrucci’s 2015 Silverstone podium and Morbidelli’s 2017 win?
My first team celebration was with Danilo and Pramac when he achieved second at Silverstone 2015 and, for Pramac at that time they were quite an underrated team in my opinion, they hadn’t done a lot and were just there. Just consistent. They were finding their feet, had two fantasticriders. Yonny (Hernandez)had made it to Q2 and Danilo had qualified something ridiculous like 18thso all eyes of course were on Yonny. But in the last few laps everyone in the garage were looking at each other like “oh my god, this is going to happen.” All they had worked for was about to be achieved, they were about to beat Factory Ducati and have their first podium. I have a video from that moment and in the video, someone laughs with a laugh that is just pure excitement, pride, joy. Everything good in the world came together in that garage for the 30 seconds of the video and it’s just all these people who have worked so hardand when you see Danilo come out onto the podium, he just radiated. He had a difficult journey, I think he came from superstock, he didn’t have a natural MotoGP progression like most riders so kind of like Calyeah! He fought his way there, took the bad rides, took Ioda, just to get his foot in the door. In the industry you want to work in, just get your foot in the door. Now, he rides for Factory Ducati next year. What else is there to say?
With the Franco win, in 2016 he finished second – with Tom Lüthi and Taka Nakagami – but that was really surreal. But Franco is forever the coolest person I will ever know, there is nothing that annoys him, but for him to win in Aragon – having my dad there with me in Aragon for it, you know interviewing these boys for my thing was like “I’ve done it before, they’re all cool, three world champions and 2014 runner up. Pfft whatever”. Having Franco win and my dad being there, like I could not thank Franky enough for simply allowing my dad this experience, he was so excited. When Franco arrived in hospitality on Friday morning he was like “hi guys! How are you all?” and he spoke to my dad, I’d told him it was my dad’s birthday on the Sunday and when I interviewed him he said to my dad “oh I won’t see you tomorrow so Happy Birthday, hopefully I can win.” And he did! Even after in the hospitality he was so like “just another day in the life” kind of vibe. It was just crazy.
Despite not being able to attend a GP this season, you’ve kept in touch with the riders you worked with last year. How have their developments been this season so far?
I think the person I’m most impressed by is Tito, purely because of the amount of time since his change. I know Jack’s bike was better than Tito’s at Honda, but in raw times Tito has improved ridiculously. His whole mental state has changed, of course he has his leg injury and it’s not been the best year, but prior to the leg he just seems a different person. I think that Ducati is the best thing for him. TITO: “With the Ducati, one thing is for sure even on the test, and that is that it is much bigger than the Honda.” He goes on to say how the Honda is more agile but the Ducati is for him. He’s a big rider, I don’t think from the TV that people fully get the grasp of his height. Tito is huge, he’s not broad or stocky but he’s just so tall. So, I think that the Ducati was best in that sense; but also the way that Ducati work with their riders is better for Tito. It’s a more, I don’t want to say “more caring” because of course Honda care. But simply the difference in a Japanese team compared to an Italian factory is worlds apart. Entirely different work ethic. I think it’s much better for Tito the way that Ducati do things. So, I think I am most impressed with Tito.
Where Alex is concerned, there has been a big change in the team. Three of the most consistent people in that team, for as long as I can remember, are gone. Ian Wheeler, Stefan Prein, Michael Bartholemy. For any rider, any circumstance mid-year is not good. Period. You could look at John McPhee for the British Talent Team, Jeremy McWilliams was supposed to be his mentor, Jeremy then took on other commitments and wasn’t present all of the time, and you could see in those weekends. John didn’t so much “suffer”, but he didn’t quite have the edge that he normally would. So, I think for Alex, to have that change in the team has possibly unsettled him. I don’t want to say he’s been unsuccessful because he has, he’s Alex flipping Marquez! I think it’s also that in a season you need to form a rhythm and a habit, and for something to drastically upset that habit, considering how consistent life at VDS was before it, when a habit just clicks and changes… any one of those three men leaving – it wasn’t just these guys either, they’re just the three heavy hitters. But Stefan Prein was their Rider Coach, he worked soclosely with each of them and had sucha bond, he was such a nice man and very very funny. Losing any of the big three would have been a big thing, but I think to lose your rider coach in what arguably could have been Alex’s most important year in Moto2; like Franco was gone, Tito was gone. All of these past contenders had paved the way and moved on, Alex had a new team mate fresh out of Moto3 so this should have been his year to lead, and then this big change occurred and I think it unsettled him. For that big of a change to happen in the garage – Ian would’ve been in and out of the garage, like all of these people would have been a regular occurrence, it’s not like me who’s there once a year where he can cope without me. These people were all extremely important.
I think Jack’s move to Pramac, the whole vibe at Pramac is kind of chilled, jokey – very Jack. If you could pick a team for Jack, it would be them. That’s another thing with Tito also is that he has history with Avintia – so I think he’s home, back at home.
Franco for me was the most chilled, he is the coolest. I think he was ready, when I spoke to him (In 2017)about MotoGP he was like “I’m going to concentrate on Moto2, the Monday morning after Valencia I am MotoGP, and I’ll take it as it comes. I haven’t spoken to Tito or Jack about the team, the bike, anything. I want a clean slate and Iwant to workwith this team, with this bike, for myself.” As it turns out, Franco inherited Tito’s team. I think, for him to just simply want to do it for him was the most important thing. He doesn’t ride a bike like Jack or Tito, they’re all individual people. Even the difference in how Alex and Marc ride a bike, there is no comparison at all. Alex rides more like Lorenzo; he’s in line, smooth. Everything is connected and everything is perfect. Marc I would maybe compare to Stoner if anyone.
Miller has demonstrated his potential massively this year, would you say he is best suited to the Pramac?
Yes. I think Jack’s quite a stocky rider, whereas Tito is tall. He’s a bit like Fenati, like he could’ve been a rugby player. But I think Jack’s much better suited to the Ducati. JACK:“Three years now with Honda, it just seemed like I needed a change, something different.”It’s a bike designed for bigger riders, in my opinion. Scott, I feel had his best time on the Ducati. Maybe it fell apart towards the end, but he was uncertain of where he was heading next. Your rider’s mental health has a massiveimpact on how they operate day to day, and not just how they ride the bike; it’s how they operate with the team, their teammates, everythingleans on each other. I think, Pramac is chilled it’s jokey – their twitter says it all, that’s how they are, and I just think it’s a perfect match.
With the incident in Le Mans last year, would you say that Jack has improved / recovered since?
I think what happened was a freak accident. Jack’s like a child, you know when they fall off their bike and you’re like “Oh silly! C’mon!” Once he’s established that he’s fine, he’s over it. He went out and qualified after. He went and got checked, the medical staff were like “…what. Are you okay??” but he qualified! I don’t think he had any recoveryto make, as a person he’s really resilient. I think him having to switch off and not care about other people’s opinions from when he first moved is what made him like that. I think him getting up and walking away and Stefan is straight there for him but Jack was just “I’m fine”. I think his riding style from when he started in the class is much, much different. I think he’s become more mature of a rider, calmer. Almost a similar process to Marc. Yes. I think that Jack has come into himself, there’s no massive changes, but he’s rationalised more. He’s now in the mind set of “the points I get for sixth are good, I can take these points home, cement my championship campaign.” So instead of chasing down 5thwho’s maybe 5 seconds in front of him with 2 laps to go, pushing too hard and coming off, he’s being smart and taking the points. Even when he doesn’t finish well he still manages to draw some sort of positive from it which I think is a massivething. Like at Silverstone 2016, he obviously was the last man across the line in 16th, but his tyre had worn away quite a lot on one side; so, he learned about tyre choices, preserving tyres, track assessments to suite the tyre. Much more mature.
With MotoGP currently in the middle of the fly-away rounds and the season finale around the corner, along with Miller’s home round, are these places of strength for your riders?
Every rider has different strengths, weaknesses, tracks they like and dislike. But what they would say is “when you are at home, your bike is 10km/h faster” I mean, it’s not, but the rider’s will have their family, friends. You know when you’ve been away from home for a while, and when you come home it’s just relaxed, it’s a relief – that’s just how it is for them. Philip Island has always been strong for Jack.
Tito is more or less good anywhere because of how he laps, you could send Tito out at 9am Monday morning, say “we have this track rented until 5pm”, he would come in for his lunch, refuel the bike, and that’s it. He would just lap and lap until he is perfect. I know he’s out of it right now because of his leg and the incident. It’s one year out of a whole career though. That’s it! Like the way in which he has handled it you know, not even 24 hours after he broke his leg was he up and trying to make steps. He took a massive femoral bleed, he could’ve died! But he was up and ready to recover. For riders, it’s also a matter of it being, while it is a new injury, it’s not exactly anything new. Exactly. The most important thing about recovery is your attitude. The physical step is massive, but for Tito to have wakened from his anaesthetic and be like “I need to get up and assess how bad this leg is, I need myself to assess this so that I know whether I can get on a bike or not and plan my next step.”
I think Jack quite enjoys these flyaways, loves home. Jack’s whole family goes. It’s very homey and a nice refresher, especially for riders like him who hardly get to go home during the season.
The last few rounds are always strong because they enjoy these tracks. Once the championship is over, it’s more or less a free for all. No one has anything to lose and they all aim to finish the season strong. You fall off at Jerez and you can redeem yourself in two weeks’ time. Crutchlow has had a massive injury to the point where his wife has had to fly over to see him – that’s his season finished. He has now finished his season on a really negative note, he has to wait until March now. So, it’s important to finish strong.
The fact that Jack when changed championships, when he won in Valencia it was huge.Maybe not a confidence boost, but it’s important for him.
What is your opinion on Franky’s move to Yamaha’s new satellite team?
I think that Franco on a Yamaha is like butter on warm toast, perfect. I think he is so much like Valentino in the way that he works, the way he addresses the press and the media. I think a move to Yamaha for Franco I guess was always on the cards, because of the type of rider that he is. Whether Herve would have decided to take Tech 3 somewhere else or otherwise, I think Yamaha would always have been the progression; he maybe would have waited until Valentino had left, in my opinion, Franco is one of the most special of all of the VR46 boys because he has paved their way. He did all the hard work, he won the championship, he races withValentino now, he is the most professional, he is what the Academy aims to produce.As they come on through, this is it, essentially Franco is your end product, and we can see now that the likes of Pecco are also starting to follow the same path. Also, to travel away from your family for such a big portion of the year, to be so young, it’s a lot! I don’t think that I could deal with that level of pressure on me. Franco is so good at disconnecting, he can just switch off entirely and just be Franco with Manu and they can just be themselves, be friends, be sixteen when no one knows them, and I think that’s what some riders lack and that’s why you get people like Fenati who do go off the rails, and when Valentino said he hoped Fenati could pull himself together and come back, I think that he sees it for what it is.
Being an Academy rider is not just having the badge on your leathers; it’s the whole way of how you are, how you address people: the media, the team, it’s a whole image.
How do you think he will get on with Quartararo?
I don’t really know an awful lot about Fabio, which makes me a little bit sad, I think he strikes me as a littlecrazy, so I think the pair might be good for each other. I personally believe that another year in Moto2 would’ve been better for Fabio; but to be honest, if Yamaha offered me a seat from this sofa I would be like “cool, no problem!”. I felt the same about Viñales too, if he stayed another year at Suzuki he would be world champion in my opinion. I think having Franky as a team mate will be good for Fabio, because Franco is so willing.This is going to be a brand-new project, these people all need to work together, and I think that the attitude Franco has is the best for it.
With Alex’s strength / improvements this season came a new contract with VDS for 2019, would you say that this team is a smart fit for Alex?
Given the uncertainty that this year and all of the events had, I think another year in Moto2 is good. I also think they signed him to settle him, to let him know he’ll get another year with them and that he’s okay. If he had moved to MotoGP this year, it would have been like Canepa. Pramac signed him when he was 18, had he had maybe another few years of experience, it could have gone a lot better for him. It is 100% the strongest thing for Alex to remain where he is. Also, Mr VDS knows what he’s doing, he issuchan articulate and clever man.
Alex is the final rider you worked with to make his step up into the top class. Do you think another year minimum in Moto2 is a good decision?
I’m conscious that Alex has been there for a long time, but when you think of who his teammates have been – he came in to Tito, who was for me the ideal Moto2 rider – he had a lot to live up to. Tito and Marc are friends, and because Marc and Alex are so close it was sort of like you’re my friend’s brother, we can’t be best friends in this environment, we are here to work. It was as if Tito acted more as a big brother than a friend to Alex. Not harsh at any point. So, then I think that the adjustment for Alex was harder; the dynamic you have with a friend to that of a teammate are two different things. Beyond the garage, everything is fine, but in the garage, there are no mates. You have no friends on track. Even with Franco, who showed a lot of success before he came to VDS. So, with Tito, Alex became accustomed to being the ‘second rider’. When Vierge comes into the team next season I think that Alex will potentially move into ‘top rider’ rather easily. Another year will for sure be good, another two mightpush it.
With VDS out of the MotoGP class for 2019 and maybe longer, which team would Alex be most suited to make the move with in the future?
I don’t think Honda. Honda is not the right environment for him, and he himself has said he doesn’t want to. That’s very much Marc’s camp, that bike is notdesigned for Alex to ride. Maybe when Lorenzo goes he could smooth it out a little, so when the time comes for Alex to move, maybe. But I think that Honda is very much Marc’s territory. What about teams based on their environment? I’d be tempted to say Suzuki, I don’t even know why! I’ve spoken with my dad about this too and we have both said Suzuki; perhaps if KTM can bring their development on, I doubt he would go there now, but with the push they’re having with two teams I think their development is going to grow. So, my top three would be: Factory Suzuki – or if they get a satellite team maybe, Petronas, KTM Tech 3. I also think that Guy Coulon in Tech 3 is a big hitter. If he and Alex got together… wow.
Are you aiming to return to the paddock in 2019? If so, does a particular team catch your eye?
My aim is alwaysto go back to the paddock, if I went back I’d like for it to be with Marc VDS again. I think if I continued to chop and change teams all the time I would never get any further than being a trainee. I think that Marc VDS is like home; Pramac were so, so good to me, but VDS will be a new experience again because of them only being a Moto2 team next year, so it’ll be interesting.
If you could work at any track in MotoGP next year, where would you go?
I would love to go back to Silverstone; I don’t know, it’s very homey even for the riders because of Day of Champions, it’s sort of a mess-around and it’s fun! Plus, British fans are very passionate when it comes to our sport so I like the atmosphere here for sure. I would loveto also go to Philip Island – for the kangaroos, and I would return to Aragon in a heartbeat. So, I have a few favourites.
Before MotoGP, did you have any experience/academics relating to press officing?
I did Media Studies in school, but that’s about it.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into MotoGP, or press officing in general?
I was told by a very wise man that you need talent more than qualifications for this work. Sure, it gives you an edge, but simply let the passion you have for the sport and the work flow. I’d say I’m quite a ballsy person, I would always seek what sets my soul on fire and I think that’s how I got there. It was “I will do whatever it takes, you people have to let me in”
You have to be 100% certain of yourself, and if you’re not you have to fake it like you are always ready to work. If you’re only wanting to be in the paddock because you’re a fan of Rossi or so and so, that’s not that way to go. I would not evergo and introduce myself as ‘Jack Miller’s biggest fan’. It’s “My name is Cathryn, I’d like to be a press officer, here is what I can offer you.”. These people don’t care if you’ve had a MotoGP photo next to your bed for ten years, they don’t care. They’re just people, and they expect to be treated as such. Whether you go back to your hotel room and start dancing and squealing about your day or not, just don’t do it in front of them. Never in a professional environment.
What is your opinion of UK representation in MotoGP?
Not good. At all. I think Bradley Smith is so underrated, he is a PR dream. He does everything he’s supposed to, he rides the bike to the best of his ability, when a day goes wrong he doesn’t blame the world, he understands the situation at hand and will come back stronger in the next race. Whereas with Crutchlow, I find him to be the type to find blame with anything but himself. Scott Redding is holy unprofessional in my opinion, I find his outburst about Aprilia ridiculous. If I were his boss I would have sacked him there and then. There is no other word than unprofessional. Be it from a press officer perspective or a fan’s, it was just absolutely the wrong way to go about it. I am not one bit shocked that he hasn’t gotten a ride next year.
British Superbikes will very much be a slap in the face for Scott, it is not a downgrade from MotoGP at all, simply a new environment. But BSB is a dog-eat-dog world; take Korie McGreevy for example, so much money, time and effort go into his racing from friends, family, countless sponsors and his ever-dedicated girlfriend. For him to be achieving podium finishes, now that is huge. Korie has sacrificed a lot and fought so much to earn his place, he hasn’t had anything handed to him, that sort of dedication isn’t a level just anyone can step up to. I think Scott will need to adjust a lot, to cope in paddock where there are lots of Kories who have fought their way there.
Rory Skinner is a delight. John McPhee has been my favourite Brit for a longtime, he’s so normal. He understands that it’s not all about winning, if he isn’t a title contender he will still be as focused on improving the bike and the team, but he won’t stress over race wins if he doesn’t need to.
Would you say that MotoGP, as a career, is for the feint-hearted?
Not even a little bit. All the qualities you need to possess to work in MotoGP: you need a heart like a lion, the thickest skin in the world – the worst anyone can say to you is no, you need to be as confident as possible without being arrogant. Do this job for you, not because you might get to meet Marquez or Rossi, it is not a job simply for bragging rights. I do it because this is something I have loved my whole life, I never wavered or doubted it. This is the one thing that, no matter what happened in my life, this is what I came back to. If you want a job here because you’re simply a fan, no. It’s not for you. You will live your life miserably, because the novelty of it will wear off big time. You would not work in a shop your whole life if you didn’t want to, it’s just a job. Someone once told me “if you love cars, never become a mechanic” because you will sicken yourself of it. So, if you love MotoGP as a fan, but you don’t like writing or media work – don’t do it. Just be a fan; go to all the races, buy the flashy passes, tell the riders you love them, don’t work for them. You will see a whole different side to your rider, and to the sport. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if you’re a fan, revel in it.