Interview: Pit Beirer part four – his GP career and what makes a champion
In the fourth and final part of our interview with the head of motorsports at KTM, Pit Beirer, we talk about his career, nearly winning the 250 world championship, his injury and what the difference is between a very good rider and a multi-time champion.
Finally Pit, just to go back a few and your career, you were a leading GP rider for many years, won Grand Prix, a double win at the Nations in 97 and you were really close in 99 to winning that 250 world championship, does that 99 season play on your mind at all or how do you look back on that?
Only now when you remind me! I mean I don’t wake up and think I lost the title in 99 but this was a very painful experience and I still hate to think about. I gave a lot for that year, I moved to Belgium, I hired the trainer of Stefan Everts and really was living on my own there and put in a lot of effort to win that title and it didn’t happen – that was painful.
But since I hate to lose maybe this gave me the right spirit to make sure we are trying to win now with KTM! But I am not looking back, I am happy for the career I had. I am what I am because I was a professional motocross racer, that’s where I learned life, that’s where I got the first super important contacts for my life and on that period I could build my career which is now the working career so I am happy.
I still look back and this was the must fun time of my life, when you can do your sport, you do your physical training and in the afternoon you go ride your bike and then race on the weekend – and get paid to do that! That’s something I say to my boys, enjoy that part, it will be the best part of your life.
Was it difficult for you after you injury to find that passion again or did this job fulfil that?
I didn’t lose that passion, not even one single day. I was co-commentating two weeks after my accident from the hospital on Eurosport for the Swedish GP and I couldn’t even sit in a wheelchair by that point. I was just lying on my back, I never had any hate or something against what happened.
I knew what happened, why it happened so for me it was a clear, clean decision from that moment to become as fit and strong as possible again in this new situation and I knew the wheelchair would be part of my life for the future. I mean, not that I enjoy it, I wish it was different but I never struggled with the sport. The first travelling I did after hospital was going to a motocross race.
From your perspective as a GP rider knowing Greg Albertyn, Stefan Everts and those guys at that time but also your perspective as a manager, what’s the difference between a guy that wins multiple championships and a guy that is close and is a contender? Is it a mental thing, riding ability – what do you see?
First of all every success starts mentally. If you don’t or can’t dream it then I don’t think you can reach it. I have seen so many guys with huge talent but maybe a little lazy that might mean they can win one championship but they will never win one again. You have that guy always in the best team, best bike but maybe not enough talent or maybe not working hard enough.
I came in the last years of the last years of my career, very close to Stefan Everts and I could see him. if you saw him riding you say his riding style, he has so much talent his father was four times world champion, that’s why he’s winning. He had maybe the most effective or efficient riding style of all of the guys. He always had a fantastic team because his dad was a four time world champion and his dad could get him straight into the official Suzuki factory team at that time with Sylvain Geboers but then the third component – he was also working hard than anybody else! That combination is what makes a big champion.
If the talent is there and you make the right decisions, the right team and bike and you work hard then you can win multiple championships and also take the right decisions, not take too much risk. That’s where I see many parallels between Stefan and Cairoli, how far they go before they say, ‘okay, today I better finish third but I am going to win the second moto or I am going to win next week.’
The champions, they don’t live from the talent they combine the hard work, the political decisions and the talent. Without talent you wouldn’t win a GP in your life but there are still many guys out there with talent but then you can beat these guys with hard work.
That’s where the sport is exactly the same all over the world; road racing, motocross, rally. That’s the chance I have, and I enjoy it a lot to work with so many different disciplines. The boys, they don’t know how similar the other guy is that other sport in that other country or continent is.
Those winning guys, you look in the eyes of one and you know the other one, they also break your balls for details, they want better and if it’s good they want better again! That’s how they work and that’s of course the area I like the most in the sport, to talk the people in these extreme situations.
Interview: Jonathan McCready
Images: Ray Archer/KTM/Yamaha