Interview part one: Davide Guarneri – His career and racing memories

He wasn’t often in the limelight but Italian rider, Davide Guarneri had a lot of talent, there’s no doubt about that. His best days came in the MX2 World Championship as he won two GP’s during his career, just to win one is a dream come true for many youngsters growing up. Guarneri is the last MX2 winner at Namur as the track hasn’t been used since the 2007 Belgian GP, that’s history right there.

The Italian has plenty of good memories throughout his career and he was kind enough to share them with us. Part one of the interview focuses on the early days of his career and his wins. Part two will be coming soon so keep your eyes out.

Gatedrop: You won your first GP in 2007 at Namur. Just how special was that day for you, can you talk me through it?

Guarneri: The day I won in Namur, actually was really good to me because I won the GP but I didn’t really understand how good it was until years later.  They’ve stopped racing there and I’m the last MX2 winner there, it was a special track and has a lot of history.  Many many big champions won a GP there in the past so it’s a big satisfaction for me, I’m proud of myself that I have the win there.  I didn’t win a lot actually and it’s a pity because, I knew it before and I still think it – I made wrong choices and I also had a lot of bad luck.  That race was good to me, a special race, the track was really special. The weather that day was really good, it’s strange to have such good weather in Belgium and a lot of Italian fans were there watching, the crowd was really good to me. It’s a really nice memory and it’s something you can tell your friends about.

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Gatedrop: You also won in Spain, Bellpuig during the 2008 season, a mud race. How was that victory for  you?

Guarneri: Talking about Bellpuig, it was a completely different race. In Bellpuig I was always fast and it was always a good place for me. That day was very different as it was a big mud race, one of the worst mud races I remember even when I watch from the TV. It was kind of strange because I’ve never been so good in the mud but that situation was just survival, you didn’t even really know were to put the bike and were the right place was to keep the flow and speed. In the end I was smart, I had a good jump from the gate, not first but I didn’t make a mistake, I watched a lot for better lines which meant I completed more clean laps without getting stuck and crashing.  I was thinking lap by lap, in the second moto when I was leading by more than a minute, there was only three laps to go but I got stuck at the bottom of the big up hill. I got stuck because it was full and there was no room to go up anymore, I was there and it was a bit of a mess, riders starting cutting the track but they stopped the race. They took the result from the lap before and I was leading and I won the race. It was a big mess but I’m proud because I didn’t win a lot but I can say that I won at a really tough and muddy race. (See a clip of the crazy mud race below)

Gatedrop: What was your favourite GP performance, can you talk me through that day? What other races stand out during your career and why?

Guarneri: I did a lot of races, like many other riders. There are some races that stay in your mind longer than the others. The first race I done will stay in my mind forever, the first GP race I ever did was Teutschenthal in 2003 on a KTM 125cc. I never really did the European Championship before as I was mainly racing in Italy, I asked for the wildcard from the beginning (of the season) but they didn’t give me an entry until Teutschenthal, I think it was the fifth round of the season (NOTE: It was round three). I wasn’t sure at all if I’d qualify for the main races but surprisingly I was riding fast, I think I was eleventh in the qualifying timed practice. When the gate dropped for the heat, I started good and was fourth after the first corner. I remember in front of me it was Maschio leading with the #1, second was Rattray and third was Sword. In the end of the first lap I was leading the race, I passed the other riders. Actually, I don’t know how I did that, I was riding amazingly well, maybe even better than some years later (laughs). In the end I didn’t win the heat because of the pressure and I was just a young kid but I finished fourth in the qualifying. In the race I finished tenth, it was only one race on the Sunday. This race I always remember and the other one I already talked about is Namur.

Another race I will always remember is in Teutschenthal (2005) where I had my first moto win I had with the Ricci Racing Yamaha, it was the factory team for the 250cc class.  We went 1-2-3 that day, the podium was McFarlane, myself and Chiodi. I won the second moto and we all rode together, we were 1-2-3-4 at one stage because Melotte was also there with the Yamaha. I led all the race and then with two laps to the end McFarlane passed me but then I passed him back immediately, that was the move that decided the moto. It’s a really good memory, also because McFarlane was a really good guy and a good rider. He passed away some years ago but it’s always good to remember him.

Gaurneri in action at Desertmartin GP in 2005. Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: During qualifying at the French GP in 2005, Cairoli kicked out at you. What do you remember about the incident and was there a falling out?

Guarneri: The French GP in 2005, of course I don’t want to bring back a hard point to talk about. The fact was that, we were fighting together for the championship. It was McFarlane and Cairoli, in the Italian Championship it was myself, Chiodi and Cairoli. We fought race by race, especially in the Italian Championship and many times in the World Championship also across the podium.  Somethings happened before the French GP even in the Italian Championship which made the adrenaline and the nerves were there for Cairoli’s team.  It was bad luck actually for me because I had a good start for the qualifying race, I also had good lap times and was riding well. In the second or third corner we crashed together, I made a small mistake to break too long and I didn’t expect Cairoli to try and pass McFarlane who was leading the heat. We crashed together and the fact is what everybody knows, I don’t want to say anything more to bring back the problems we had at the time. For sure, I can say that I had no bad intention and there were no team play at all from us. It was just a racing mistake and nothing more, it was only my goal to finish the race. We were fighting for a good position and that can happen.

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Gatedrop: In 2010 you moved up to MXGP after aging out of MX2. Where you happy to make the move up or if there was no age rule would you have stayed in MX2?

Guarneri: In 2010, I had to move up to MXGP and I wasn’t happy at all. I wasn’t happy because I finished fourth in the MX2 World Championship but I had really good pace and really good speed. My weak point was only the starts but we were talking with Yamaha and Rinaldi. The plan was to stay with Yamaha running MX2 factory bikes, probably a prototype in 2010 and I was ready for that, I was happy because if i fixed my starts I could have fought for the World Championship.  Anyway, for me, the age limit was bad but actually in the end in 2010 I did good things in my rookie year in MXGP. But when the age rule was announced and clear, I wasn’t happy at all.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: You impressed as a rookie in 2010 and had some good results on the LS Honda but made the move to BUD Kawasaki for 2011. Looking back do you think that was the correct decision and why did you make that switch?

Guarneri: Yeah, in 2010, my rookie year was a good season for me. I enjoyed a lot the bike and the Honda, the 2010 450cc suited me really well. I had really good races and had good starts, I didn’t always finish at the front like I wanted because I had quite a lot of DNF’s but the speed was there. In 2011, I moved to BUD Racing Kawasaki, the season wasn’t easy for sure but there were many problems. I put all my trust on the trainer and the mechanic but in 2011 they told me they would move to other teams. Also, Tanel Leok was moving to another team, the team that I liked to have at Honda wasn’t there for 2011. We talked with BUD and they made a good proposal to me, they proposed that I’d work with Jacky Vimond, I was interested in that kind of opportunity. I made that choice, in the end the only thing I still think now is that no factory team was asking to sign me. I’m sure with a factory opportunity that year I could have fought for a top three in the championship. With my time at BUD, I still had a good feeling on the bikes but I had two bad crashes and had to miss some races, it meant the championship was pretty much over. I couldn’t find anymore a factory solution, I was really looking for that every year.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Nigel McKinstry