EWC Inside Line with Niccolo Canepa
After a season packed with speed but lacking luck, Niccolò Canepa is hoping that good fortune will favour Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team during the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship.
Partnered by German Marvin Fritz and Czech Karel Hanika plus fourth rider Robin Mulhauser from Switzerland, 34-year-old Italian Canepa is thinking big for this season. Here’s why.
What are you hoping will be possible in 2023?
“The hope is not to have any bad luck anymore! The only thing we need is to have more luck because we have all what we need to perform well and to be successful. We have a great team, great bike, great tyres, great team-mates so we are ready to fight, we just need luck.”
How ready are you?
“We are testing for three days before the Le Mans Pre-Test and I’m looking forward to seeing the work that was done during the winter to improve the bike and the reliability. We want to test for 24 hours with the engine to see that everything is fine and after six months [not racing] we need, as riders, to get some laps to get back in shape, to be at the speed again. But I am fully confident we will be ready for the 24-hour races. Myself I have trained a lot, I feel fit, I feel ready. In the last couple of years, it has been more difficult because before I get an injury during a winter test. Last year in January the screws and plates that I had in my ankle were taken out so that meant surgery again. It means this year is actually the first time in three years that I have been able to prepare the way I want for the season so I feel good and full of energy to start the season.”
What’s a typical day of training consist of?
“It depends a lot because I am also involved in the FIM Superbike World Championship, coaching the guys so obviously when I am working there the time is less, but in a normal day I go out cycling for two or three hours or go to gym, whatever to keep feet.”
Does your role in World Superbikes help you?
“It’s always good to work alongside the riders, exceptional riders like Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli for example. I watch them every session by the side of the track because it’s good to see how they work, how is their behaviour inside the garage, how they work with the engineers, all the information they give and how they interact makes me grow a lot. And also it’s good for me when I do the testing.”
Would you be interested in racing in the Superbike World Championship?
“Officially we never plan anything, I prefer to stay focused on my job coaching and in the EWC but I am also the replacement rider in case one of the Yamaha Superbike guys is injured during the season. Hopefully I am not needed and the guys are fully fit and fighting for the victory. But in case I am needed I am ready to go, I always have one set of gear, leathers, helmet inside the truck.”
How important is it to have the same EWC rider line-up as before?
“It’s absolutely important. We are the same four riders, me, Karel, Marvin and Robin, so this is really good and now we know each other for quite a long time and we know what is our target, working always in the same direction, which is really good with each other. Also the setting of the bike, we always agree, so everything is positive. We have suffered a lot together but we also have many good memories, but we want to have the world title in endurance.”
What was your best moment in the EWC last year?
“For me the Suzuka 8 Hours. Suzuka is such a tough race because you are with the MotoGP or World Superbike riders and it’s an opportunity for the EWC riders to show the level of the championship. And to be there and to be qualifying so fast, all of us, and to be really competitive during the race and to fight for the podium it has been the best moment of the year for me. Unfortunately we didn’t end the race on the podium like we deserved to be but it was still the best memory.”
In contrast would Spa, where you were leading before retiring, have been the most disappointing moment?
“For sure it was really, really tough but I still have good memories from Spa, being so competitive, so fast to recover so many positions since the beginning of the race when we had the problem. We go so fast and to go back in P1 is something that makes me really proud about myself and my team and about everybody involved with this. We had a hard day at Spa, a hard night, we were pushing like animals all the time, this was really impressive and this was the race where we showed our potential and showed everybody what we could do when we were under pressure. Unfortunately, it didn’t last to the end, but I am really happy about how we performed there. And it’s such an amazing track.”
Was there a rider you looked up to when you were younger?
“When I was a kid I remember Loris Capirossi because he was a very balanced rider, always fast and he achieved a lot. When I was a kid he was in 500cc and I remember watching and cheering for him. Troy Bayliss is another one as well, I grew up watching the races of Troy, I had the opportunity once to share the garage with him when I was racing for the Ducati factory team, that was really nice and I am lucky to see him in Word Superbike because of his son racing. It’s nice hanging out with him and remembering his amazing career.”
How strong is the level of EWC?
“Well extremely strong because every year there is more teams and more very talented riders who raise the bar every year. I see there is a new Yamaha team and all the factory teams are always strong. I believe this year is going to be strong as well, I believe the competitors are ready, it’s going to be a tough season but it’s better when you beat them at the end, that is very satisfactory.”
FIM Endurance World Cup 2023 calendar refresher
Round 1: 24 Heures Motos (Circuit Bugatti, Le Mans, France) 13-16 April 2023
Round 2: 24H SPA EWC Motos (Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium) 16-18 June 2023
Round 3: Suzuka 8 Hours (Suzuka Circuit, Japan) 4-6 August 2023
Round 4: Bol d’Or 24 hours (Circuit Paul Ricard, France) 14-17 September 2023
More on Niccolò Canepa: https://www.fimewc.com/driver/niccolo-canepa/