Interview: Ilario Ricci on his time in the Motocross World

Ilario Ricci has a unique career in the Motocross world as he’s been with a number of different manufacturers within the MXGP paddock. Ricci spent a number of years with Yamaha machinery receiving good support from the factory and had plenty of success with the likes of McFarlane, Chiodi, Guarneri and Aubin to name just a few.

After his successful time with Yamaha, Ricci had some interesting experiments with TM and Husqvarna which was a real challenge but he has a lot of good memories and always worked to the best of his ability.

We caught up with Ricci to reflect on some of the memories he has from his time in the GP paddock.

Gatedrop: Ilario, it would be fair to say the most success you had as a team manager was the very successful Ricci Racing Yamaha team in the MX2 World Championship. You must have a lot of fund memories from those years!

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Ricci: The years with Yamaha have been the best in my career. I had a great collaboration with Michele Rinaldi and his staff, who has been important for my team and experience. With Yamaha I remember the first riders, Garcia Vico and Nicolas Aubin, very very fast.

Gatedrop: The German GP at Teutschenthal in 2005 – the Ricci Yamaha team went 1-2-3. A dream come true for any team manager – you can’t really top that again!

Ricci: Really I never imagined a result like this even if for all the race I had Guarneri, Mcfarlane and Chiodi in the top four positions. I suffered throughout the whole race, I realised all this when I was on the podium, it was really an unforgettable dream.

Gatedrop: You worked with Andrew McFarlane who sadly lost his life in 2010, what are your memories when he was with the team and what was he like to work with? He finished second in the MX2 World Championship in 2005 as part of your team!

Ricci: Andrew was very determined in everything he done, he was very reserved and very down to earth. He was my best result throughout my career. He’s always in my heart and has a big poster inside my garage – he’s always by my side.

Ricci’s garage..

Gatedrop: Chicco Chiodi came to your team as a former World Champion. What was he like to work with and what memories stand out?

Ricci: Chicco has been another great rider for me, and a very big person, he has always been very determined in all the races.

Gatedrop: You always seemed very loyal to Davide Guarneri as he rode for your team for a number of years – what was it like having him as a rider?

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Ricci: I chosen Guarneri for the first time because he had always been one of my targets, I strongly believed in him. He has been in my team for a number of years and he was part of my family. With him I had a lot of good results and satisfactions.

Gatedrop: The team made the switch to Husqvarna in 2011 with a good line up of Alessandro Lupino and Michael Leib which was exciting on paper. A good rider line up but how difficult was it trying to develop the Husqvarna and get good results at the same time? A real turning point for the brand was when KTM bought them over some years later..

Ricci: With Husqvarna, at the beginning it was so difficult because we were not as fast as the others, but I really believed in the riders I had. Lupino who was with me also during my Yamaha years, and I admired him for the potential he has. Michael Leib was a great experience but I wasn’t as satisfied as I would have wanted.

The Ricci Racing Husqvarna setup.

Gatedrop: After Husqvarna, you got the role of TM’s team manager, again how difficult was that? Trying to compete against Factory KTM, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha etc with little budget? Hopefully they make a return to the paddock in the future.. At TM you worked with riders like Guarneri, Simpson etc..

Ricci: With TM, it was a great experience, but it was not possible to go ahead because there was not enough budget and no sponsors. At TM I had Guarneri and Simpson in MXGP and in MX2 I had Ivo Monticelli, a very very very fast rider.

Gatedrop: After TM why did you take the decision to step away from the sport, would you ever consider coming back to run a team?

Ricci: Unfortunately I took a hard and tough decision due to missing budget. For me it wasn’t a game but work where I spent a lot of years. Now most the teams are only Factory teams because the owners can have personal economic possibilities. A return back is one of my dreams, but when I open my eyes the reality doesn’t give me any possibilities.

Gatedrop: What rider(s) did you enjoy working with the most and why?

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Ricci: I worked well with all the riders who I’ve been able to work with, each of them gave me things that I will never forgot.

Gatedrop: When you look at the MXGP World Championship now, what changes do you see in the paddock and how would you describe the job Infront are doing?

Ricci: MXGP has now changed, the races are enough, they should improve the races conditions. There’s not enough riders, I see an important paddock which is too flashy, and so far from what motocross should be.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Yamaha/Husqvarna