Courtesy of Sharon Cox
Livia Lancelot has already cemented great Women MX World Championship career having won 2 WMX Titles in 2008 and 2016. As mark of the French rider’s passion for racing, committment to achieve performance not only as racer but as Team Manager, Livia embarked on task to run, own and operate Team Honda 114 Motorsport from 2018.
In 2nd year, what stands out as most impressive is Livia’s uncomplicated work ethic putting into practice all learning curves that came by through-out debut year in ‘018, to make improvements, adjustments to operations and elevate performance within Team set-up and on track.
For Livia, key areas of focus heading into 2019 MXGP season boiled down to:
# 114: ‘Well, it is not really decisions but more what I learnt from 2018. I started from almost zero, and I discovered a lot of things during the season. This helped me for 2019, with more experience I knew what to do better’.
‘Of course the choice of staff is one of the most important things. We are a Team and we need a great atmosphere to work altogether and give the riders the best bikes of course- but also the best environment’.
With line-up of riders priority at end of ‘018, Livia in discussions with Honda’s Giacomo Gariboldi negotiated contract to sign Australia’s Mitchell Evans along with French rider and protege Zachery Pichon– both racing MX2.
#114: ‘As everyone knows Giacomo Gariboldi is behind me on this project, with his experience everything became easier’.
‘He knows everyone all around the world, and he started the discussion with Mitch. So after that I just had to finalize the contract and organize eveything for Mitch here in France’.
‘I have known Zach for a really long time. He was playing in the paddock while his dad was still racing when I started my career’.
‘Zach had a descent season in 2018 considering his age, so we decided to give him a chance. He is really talented and working hard. He has improved so much since last season. Often unlucky unfortunately, but I’m sure that he will be able to show some great results before the end of the season’.
With Mitch currently standing 7th Overall having gained 3rd podiums at MXGP Argentina Opening Round and again at MXGP of Portugal, along with Zachery sitting on 26th position, ‘019 season is proving to be result of Team’s hard work, maximum effort and diligent preparation.
# 114: ‘Yes for sure we all know that you win championships during the winter season. Mitch arrived pretty late due to visa problems. But it also gave us more time to organize everything for him. Appartment 1 km from the workshop, gym and all the Team staff less than 10 minutes if he needs’.
‘Here we have sand and hard pack tracks. Weather conditions are one of the best in Europe, so he had a good winter. Not perfect for sure- we still have to improve on some points. But I think that he felt good from the begining and it helped for the first Round in Argentina’.
‘Zach is French so it is a little bit different. He practices at home with his dad, he is coming to the team only for testing. But this situation is working better for him. He’s only 18 so he still needs time at home with his familly’.
With 12 years racing Women MX World Championships, 2016 was super challenging, pushing Livia deep to sustain strength of character given competition within WMX class was ramped up with arrival of debutante Kiwi Courtney Duncan. And, it was 8 years prior, that Livia had claimed victory on top WMX step, which meant winning Overall at Assen GP was no mean feat.
Have all these hard working years racing, experiencing what actually happens Round-in-Round out at GP’s proved invaluable to hold position of Team Honda 114 Motorsports Manager?– absolutely yes- all with help, support and unprecedented backing from Honda.
All of which is far removed from being rider-racing- having people work for you to ensure bike, mechanics, gear, schedule all runs in sync for racing.
#114: ‘My goal is to organize the Team and make the riders feel good. The results are their own goal. At the end of the day they are on the bike not us. So we can give them all the cards but they play the Game!’.
‘My priority is that everything goes well during the weekend, riders have goals, so if they are happy at the end of the day normally it is good for the team as well. But of course I would love to have them on the podium every weekend’.
Yes, my racing exeprience is helping me every day in my new job. I’ve walked around this paddock since 2005, talking with Youthstream members, FIM members , mechanics , managers, family, riders…. and I have been a rider myself. So of course I know a lot of things about what’s going on during the weekend . With the riders, from just looking at their face I can understand what they will ask me’.
Respect in the GP paddock has to be earned, you wouldn’t win it through lottery, from reading a book, or by sheer force. Livia Lancelot received such respect right from initial conversation with Honda’s Giacomo Gariboldi following through to Team Riders, crew, Media and public to present day.
Such grounded approach to take on such responsibility as first Woman Team Manager at World MX Championship is mighty accomplishment- and to gain rider podiums in both seasons has to be celebrated.
This is GP weekend for Livia: ‘This season we have more people than last year, so I need to make sure that everyone knows what to do, and of course do it. So I have to run everywhere between the Team, the track for MX2 and EMX250… talk with the riders after each time they go on track, take the results , make sure the mechanics don’t need something, look at the other classes to maybe find some lines. Report eveything to Giacomo and Honda. Take some time with our partners or Media. Most of the time I walk around 15 kms each day from Friday to Sunday !
From capitalizing on years of race experience to react when plans go right or not, there remains a drive, persistency to achieve without compromise which punches Livia above her weight. How else, and why when odds are stacked that rookie Team Manager, and female at that would entertain possibility of reaching targets of solid rider performance racing GP season.
#114: ‘Well I think it comes from my education. My parents sacrificed everything for me. I’m the only child, and nothing was guaranteed’.
‘I had to fight a lot for the Titles I have, and I missed a lot of Titles due to mechanical issue or injury. These kinds of experiences teaches you what life is made of. We are not living in fairyland and if you want something you have to fight for it. But all this made me into the Woman I am today- definitely due to my years of racing’.
From one chapter of Livia’s life to the next as Team owner- Manager of Team Honda 114 Motorsport, nothing is forgotten on how Livia reached present day.
#114: ‘Well I feel so lucky. Giacomo really offered me a great opportunity. I knew him for a long time, but not really well, just this kind of “paddock relationship”. He started to talk to me about this project in 2016, but I was not ready to quit racing in my head then. He came back during 2017, and to be honest this new mechanical issue that I went through plus the one in 2015 it kind of destroyed my motivation’.
‘I was over the fact to sacrifice all my life, train 200% everyday to be World Champion and miss again a Title for something that I can’t control. So I decided to accept and build the project. Every GP we were working all Friday with Giacomo and Honda to develop the idea. I think, when I came to Switzerland to present him the final budget, plan, staff etc- everything happened really fast after that’.
‘I have a lot people that have helped me during my racing years. But I can say that for this “2nd Life” I owe everything to Giacomo’.
And to wrap heading into final leg of 2019 World MX Championship season-
#114: ‘The main goal is to keep my riders safe, get back on the podium and enjoy every single moment at the GP. Now the MXGP circus is on it’s way to spend 2 weeks in Indonesia. After these 2 Rounds the end of the season will arrive really fast’.
Special thanks to Livia for her time.