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Jun 19, 2013

FIM Superbike World Championship: A Look Inside Family-Owned And -Operated Team Pedercini

eni FIM Superbike World Championship The Team Pedercini family (from left): Ivan, Donatella, Donato and Lucio Pedercini.
Perennially Pedercini: How A Family Firm Makes Racing Work

Team Pedercini is continuing its family affair in both Superstock 1000 and Superbike classes with its partner Kawasaki and the assistance of many others who share their racing passion.

In an era of unavoidably shrinking grids the Kawasaki Team Pedercini squad is a beacon of self-reliance and an illustration of what can be achieved with a degree of financial support allied to a vast degree of motivation and passion to succeed.

Currently the Pedercini team has no less than five riders operating in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup class and two in the Superbike series, all on Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R machinery. It has been a long road to get to this level.

Team Manager Lucio Pedercini started GP racing in 1992 and in 1993 he and his father Donato began an unbroken racing adventure together that was conducted on 500cc two-strokes until 1997, before the team jumped into the World SBK Championship in 1998. Two Italian national Superbike Championships and a best of fourth in an SBK round for Lucio himself, before he retired at the end of 2006, pre-dated the current Pedercini approach. Over the years since then some big names have ridden for the team, which swapped to Kawasaki power in 2008.

Team Pedercini is not the only one with family connections inside the paddock, but in strength and depth of commitment few if any can match the Pedercinis. Lucio’s brother, Ivan, plays a vital part at the head of the technical side. Donatella, Lucio and Ivan’s mother, looks after the team’s ever-popular hospitality unit, which regularly caters for over 100 people at races.

For Lucio, this timeless family tie is the main reason why the team has continued and even carried on with its success in Superstock when many other teams of this level have had to fold.

“It would not be possible to do this if it was only me in the team, we need all the family’s input, we need everybody,” said Lucio. “Our team is not a small team, 26 people now without the riders. For sure I cannot follow everything. We discuss things a lot together in the family, we all live close together at home, so every day we talk a lot about everything. I do not take care of the engines and the technicians, that is down to my brother and my father, but I work on all the other things - sponsors, riders, logistics, travel. We need each other to make it all work.”

Commercially speaking racing has never been tougher, with even willing sponsors having little money but the Pedercini crew brings something to the party that money cannot buy, as Lucio explains.

“It is possible to continue but it is very hard now. The answer is always the same as to how we do it. We have a lot of passion and we put all our passion inside this job. We have tried to change our mentality in SBK, because only with passion it is not possible. So in Superstock we decided to make five riders this year. Two to try and win the championship – Savadori and Mercado – the other two for results but also to help with budgets. Then we took a fifth rider because he had a good sponsor for now and in the future, IFB. They wanted to come into the team for many years, so for that we decided to make a fifth bike. This is a lot of hard work but I do not care. If we need to work 20 hours every day to get the budget that’s OK.”

Lucio and crew have weathered the recent financial storms thanks to the loyalty and support of his sponsors, including Elf, plus Kawasaki’s help.

“Many of our sponsors like me and my team more than just the results, because normally I become good friends with them. Sometimes it is more about the friendly relationship than pure business, but it is really not an easy time for the economy in Italy. I lost some sponsors, but I am still in good contact with them and they say that when things pick up they can come back again. I think they enjoy our story and the history, the family element, etc.”

Many of those sponsors are based in Italy, and that means the team runs on three fronts, two inside the SBK paddock and one inside the CIV Italian Championships. “We also run in the Italian championship because many people say, “Ah, you represent Italy in the world championship, so why do you not do the Italian championship?” said Lucio. "We are not a tuning company back home; we have no other real interest outside of the team we run in all the classes. Kawasaki helps us, sponsors and some riders also help to pay.”

As a natural consequence of so many other SBK manufacturers running official teams and having significantly more resources than the family-owned and run Pedercini team, top results in SBK involve points scores and top ten finishes with less experienced riders on board, like Italy’s Federico Sandi and Alex Lundh from Sweden in SBK, even with an ever-improving tech package.

In the FIM Cup however, it is a different matter. With Ninja ZX-10R riders Lorenzo Savadori and Leandro Mercado leading the Kawasaki Team Pedercini line, top class results have already come along in 2013. Said Lucio, “Our main Kawasaki involvement is in Superstock, where we have budget and parts, but in Superbike we get some parts and help, which is really appreciated. But our real involvement is in Superstock. In Superbike we receive some parts from Kawasaki and we also make some of our own so that does not cost us a lot of money.”

Mercado was third in the first round at Aragon while Savadori won a spectacular victory at Monza. No better place than there to win for a team based in Volta Mantovana, in the same region of northern Italy! More recently Mercado scored fourth place at Portimao and he won both opening races in the Italian Championship for Kawasaki Team Pedercini at Mugello.

Every good result is a reason for celebration and satisfaction but a major asset in the Pedercini team’s mission for success, other than the awesome Ninja ZX-10R in Superstock trim, is what they can do with their vast combined experience.

“In Superstock, when the Ninja ZX-10R arrived in 2011 we worked a lot with Kawasaki and we gave them a lot of feedback,” said Lucio. “That seemed to help and they worked a lot for us. The bike was good at the beginning but even in Superstock you can change small things that become important in racing at FIM Cup level.”

Team Pedercini, a tight knit group of global adventurers, know that the championship and race wins are possible even after some recent bad luck for Savadori, “We have received some good rewards recently in Superstock and took wins in the Italian championship with Mercado so all the work pays off sometimes!”