This is the second in a series of Q&A's with those involved with motorcycle road racing; grid girls, marshals, photographers, journos, and the racers themselves. Through these Q&A sessions the answers will hopefully help you, the reader, dispel any myths, confirm your suspicions or generally give some insight into who these people really are and what drives them to be involved in, what is considered by many, a dangerous sport. Should you want to take part and tell your story (or if you know a racer and can cajole them to take part), drop me a line through my Twitter or Facebook page and we'll sort something out.
After years of only riding Italian short circuits, Marco first saw road racing up close at the 2013 Ulster GP, vowing right then and there that his ultimate goal was to ride the Isle of Man TT. Starting in the Manx GP the next year with two top ten finishes (7th in the Junior, 5th in the Newcomers), the following year he was at the TT with two DNF's and a 37th in the Superbike class. In 2016 he was back again for the TT, with a DNF in the Superbike class, a 28th in the Superstock, and a 31st in the blue riband event the Senior. With a fastest lap of 124.1 mph within just three visits of the TT course, Marco is surely a rider to keep your eye on.
The following is in Marco's own words, he's Italian so cut him some slack, I'm sure his English is better than your Italian.
What do you do for a living? - I'm a truck driver, I drive a big lorry for 13-15 hours a day
Who or what attracted you to road racing? – I used to watch VHS videos about road racing since I was young, then I met my actual girlfriend, who runs the only Italian website about road racing ( www.roadracingcore.com/it/category/en ), and I went with her to see the 2013 Ulster Grand Prix. From that moment on I realised that I must ride there myself, I absolutely loved it. My big goal was the Isle of Man TT straight away!
What would you have replaced motorcycle racing with if you had never become a racer? – I’m not a professional rider, so racing and everything related is just a hobby for me, even if it takes all my time after work! I absolutely don’t know what could have replaced motorcycle racing, it is just what I loved since I was a child.
If you were a full time racer and packed racing in today what would you do for the rest of your years? – It depends on how many money I have! I think I would try and help young riders.
What do you do out of race season? – Apart from working, I love to go riding my Triumph Speed Triple on Sundays with my girlfriend; I live near lakes and mountains in North of Italy and it is quite easy to find nice streets to ride. But from January I usually start my preparation for the racing season, which for me starts from the TT except a couple of races before it just to obtain results for the ACU Licence. If I would have a higher budget I would love to do more races. Preparation involves really all my energies: I personally contact people, try to find sponsors, sell and buy pieces for my bikes, organize everything. It is very stressing sometimes, but at the end it is worth it!
What’s the best race bike you’ve ever ridden? – My current bike, a BMW S1000RR, which I use for the TT. I enjoy riding it and it is reliable.
Which racing bike from history would you like to ride? – I have no doubt about this: the legendary Britten! I am so fascinated by John Britten’s creation. I saw it live at the 2013 Ulster GP.
Who is your racing idol, and have you met them? – I don’t have a proper idol, just riders that I admire very much but not idols.
Have you ever been star struck (racer / non racer) and who was it? – I think it was Troy Bayliss in Monza, the move he made at the Ascari was impressing. It was early 2000.
Who do you admire (racer / non racer)? – It may sound a bit predictable but I really admire Valentino Rossi. I followed his career from the start, he really represents my adolescence because I was and still am a bike mad, petrolhead. I also admire Nori Haga, but just back in the days when he rode the R7 Yamaha.
Marco makes his way to the start line of the 2016 IoM Senior TT
What’s your greatest achievement so far? – Riding at the TT. A dream come true. And I keep thinking that a lot of people would like to do it but not everybody can. It's an emotional achievement.
What achievement are you striving for? – Being the first Italian rider to reach 130 mph at the TT. Well, I didn’t say when!!
If you had your time again, what would you have done differently? – Some technical decisions in these first 2 years of TT. Some errors really prevented me to give my 100%. I’d love to have a bit of luck this year, even if I know very well that if you cross the finish line at the TT you’ve already been lucky enough.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into road racing? – To make it clear that there is no improvisation, no madness, but exactly the opposite. You have to learn the whole course and know exactly what you are going to do. To keep it easy, step by step; you have to learn before pushing. This is the main thing for me.
How do you want to be remembered? – I’d like to be remembered as a fast non professional road racer.
Marco collects his thoughts before setting off down Glencrutchery Rd in 2016's Superstock TT
For those who have raced on the TT circuit - what are you thinking about:
When you land on the Isle of Man to go racing? - Let’s try to go back home in one piece and satisfied!
As you walk through the gate from parc ferme onto Glencrutchery Rd. at race time? - Keep everything under control and do it step by step
As you come up to the start line? - I stop thinking. I am usually not nervous, just concentrating.
As you set off down Glencrutchery Rd? - From that moment on I only think about the course, the next corner, step by step.
When you cross the finish line at the end of a race? - I could have gone faster!!
What typically do you talk about with the team / family post race? - We talk about the race, the behaviour of the bike and how it could improve if there is another race. If it was the last race I talk about any incidents, but we are all very relaxed and we will have a pint together.
Before each race do you have :
Any rituals? - I wear my left glove first
Any lucky charms? - No, nothing
Things you say to yourself or out loud? - I say to myself “stay concentrated”
Marco stopping for fuel in the 2016 Superstock TT aboard his loved BMW S1000RR
LIFE IN GENERAL
What nicknames do you have? - Phagaci - my surname Pagani, and being a fan of Haga whose nickname was 'Hagaci'.... it's a mixture of the two.
What three words describe you? – Methodical, professional, a bit crazy sometimes.
What have you always wanted, and did you ever get it? – Riding at the TT and I did that, even if I haven’t achieved my goals yet on the Mountain Course.
What question are you asked the most? – "How do you manage to do everything by yourself?"
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? – Cassoela, a typical Italian dish from where my girlfriend lives.
What’s your current addiction(s)? – Eating my nails, I can’t stop!
What would be the hardest thing for you to quit? – To quit racing. Bikes have always been part of my life. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to be forced to quit early because of an injury.
What’s the nicest thing someone has said to you? – “You are an example”, “I am proud of you”.
If you were a crap superhero, what would be your superpower? – Killer farts!!!
What would be the perfect day? – A day spent spannering on my bike and training in the Gym, something that with my actual job I have no time to do.
What’s your greatest achievement? – Riding at the TT and having a good job on my own from the end of last year.
What’s your biggest regret? – To never have had a possibility to became a professional rider.
What amazes you? – The attention people pay me riding at the TT.
Marco's Senior TT fairing showing all the many sponsors names that continue to help fund his racing
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE:
Colour? - Blue
Music genre / band / singer? – It could be rock, dance, Italian music, it depends on the moment!
Possession? – My Triumph Speed Triple
Item of clothing? - Hoodie
Place? – My house and my land
Past-time (other than racing)? – Lying on my sofa, which I rarely do!
Circuit? – Mountain Course and Mugello
EITHER / OR
Gym or yoga? - Gym
City or countryside? - Countryside
Tea or coffee? - Coffee
Sushi or fish & chips? - Sushi
Cake or pie? - Cake
Ketchup or brown sauce? - Neither
Restaurant or take out? - Restaurant
Dogs or cats? - Cats
Books or films? - Films
Twitter or Instagram? - Instagram
Netflix or Youtube? - Youtube
Early bird or night owl? – Early bird
Quiet night in or loud night out? – I like both, it depends on the day!
YOU CAN FOLLOW Marco USING THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
Thank you Marco for taking part.
Keep your eyes peeled for more Q&A sessions coming soon!
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