Since entering Team HRC Rally as the new Team Manager, Roberto Boasso hasn’t had a minute to spare. His debut leading the team is set for the Merzouga Rally, but before the engines fire up for the first of the Dakar Series, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Team HRC Rally’s new installations at Montesa-Honda, Honda Spain, have been a hive of frenetic activity recently, equipping the truck which will take Italian champion Giacomo Vismara south – Morocco bound. The team, which will participate in the Merzouga Rally, have been preparing the logistics for some weeks now. This will be the first outing for the team with Team Manager, Italian Roberto Boasso in command.

– You joined the HRC organisation as part of the official Honda Rally team just a month ago. This coincided with the team’s move to the new Montesa-Honda installations in Barcelona. How has the first month been?
– Well, we have started a huge job with the whole team structure from the new headquarters in Barcelona. Everything has been started from scratch as we have had to move the entire structure from Germany to these installations, so everything is brand new. We’ve brought in the new mechanics and guys who already know the job and I think that it’s going really well; there have been a lot of hours work everyday but I think that we are on the right track. The team is growing and is becoming more and more like a big family as time goes by. I’m very pleased with the riders, who have started training and carrying out tests that we had planned for the bikes, even before they had actually been programmed. That way we can stay ahead of schedule.

– That’s a lot of work. Building a team from the ground up and putting it together in the way that you want…
– Exactly. Starting from scratch presents some difficulties but also makes some things easier because we are able to do what we believe to be best. But we are on the right path, thanks to everyone getting involved. It’s an enormous job but, luckily, everyone has been helping out. Honda is a giant family; for example, we’ve had great support whether it be from Honda Spain or from Honda Japan. It’s not easy to start from zero, but at least we get to do it our way. We are lucky enough to be able to decide how we go about doing it.

– The season started differently from the others with the World Championship getting underway without Team HRC. But the action kicks off soon…
– Yes, it was a shame that the team hasn’t been able to take part in the world championship, but it was necessary to establish a new line, to restart and then head in a new direction. We weren’t able to race in Abu Dhabi or in Qatar, because it wasn’t logistically possible. Indeed, next week we will be racing in the Merzouga Rally and then we are taking part in the Desafío Ruta 40 with the other riders. There, we will be all ready to try out the new structure and check to see if the changes that have been made will work correctly. We will endeavour to keep a sense of logic to the work, a program and follow the ideas that we have as a structure.

– Is that why you’ve done some tests and have visited Honda in Japan?
– We have introduced a new plan for the season. It’s a little revolution: We have worked in the US, here in Europe and also in Japan, who have been very much involved in the development as usual, in spite of the earthquake that they have experienced. It saddens me that the Honda family have been affected and I hope that there hasn’t been a lot of damage.
Communication in the team is really important; sometimes the long distance between Japan and Europe, where most of the riders and mechanics are situated, does not help communication. It’s not easy to put it all together, that’s why I wanted to go to Japan to see personally how the structure works and meet directly the engineers and managers involved in the Dakar project. Also, I wanted to see up close the way they see, think and do things in Japan, which is very interesting. I had to see where and how they build the bike and, if needed, detect any aspects that could be sorted out or improved upon. I believe that we have to make a single, united team. And this trip has worked a lot for me as I was able to understand a lot of things. Now it is much easier to work.

– Next stop: the Merzouga Rally.
– The first race that we will compete in will be the Merzouga Rally. Here we are working Saturdays and Sundays, more than sixteen hours a day to get everything ready for the debut. For us it will be very important to look for the feeling between the riders, the bikes and the navigation. After that we will do more testing and races to continue to improve and try out new things which are important for us and for the future; basically, to get everything ready for the next big goal: the Dakar.

– Talking about the Dakar, last week you were in Barcelona for the presentation of the details of the 2017 edition. How do you see it as Team Manager?
– The key, I believe, will be in Bolivia. We will have to see how the high altitude stages affect things. The riders will some days be at heights of over 3,000 metres and we don’t know how their bodies are going to react, or the bike for that matter, as they could really feel it. I think that last year’s rain was terrible and this year, once more, we could see the riders and teams inconvenienced by this. We will have to be well-prepared for the marathon stages, which as we already know, bring added difficulties to the race.

– There are some new components in the team. Notably the truck and its driver Giacomo Vismara.
– The incorporation into the team of Giacomo has been the result of considerable reflexion: he knows how to drive; he is a great mechanic and has loads of experience. He is a really good person for the team, as is Davide Cotimbo, the new mechanic who joins the team alongside Carlos Solano and Miguel Nabais. They are all good people who know exactly what to do. I’m very happy with the team for their involvement in this project, although it is obvious that we have to keep on working and not stop until we have finished the Dakar 2017.

– Is the team happy in Spain?
– Yeah! We are really lucky to belong to the Honda family. We arrived here in the Montesa-Honda installations in Santa Perpetua, Barcelona, and everything went great. We are very close to everything in an area where you can live and breathe engines everywhere. The various HRC teams have helped us out; the Trial team and also the MotoGP team and we wish to thank them for that. It has been incredible; it has made us really satisfied and has given us a dimension to the project. We have to do a really good job, not just for ourselves, but also for everybody and for our fans too.