Italian version here.
Winning the title in the Supersport 300 World Championship on their debut, after achieving already plenty of success at national or European level in previous years. This is what the Arco Motor University Team, formed mainly by current or former engineering students of the Universitat Politécnica of Valencia.
Last year, the Spanish squad triumphed in WorldSSP300 with Álvaro Díaz, whose strongly competitive and constant performance (just two wins, but also nine more podium finishes) took him to the top in a season that unfortunately ended with the tragic death of Victor Steeman. However, 2022 was a dream year for the team, who stood out internationally after having triumphed the year before in the Spanish ESBK Championship (again with Díaz) and also in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup (with Iker García).
However, 2023 brings a different picture. Díaz and the team made together the step to Supersport World Championship and the Spanish rider had various difficulties in adapting to the new category, although he started making good progress in the last couple of rounds (apart from the injury sustained in Most, which forced him to retire in Race 1 and ruled him out of Race 2). On the other hand, in the Supersport 300 World Championship, the team only scored a few points with Dutchman Ruben Bijman, while Italian Gabriele Mastroluca struggled with several issues and even missed the Czech round due to injury. In the meantime, the squad keep performing strongly in ESBK, where they lead the championship in both Supersport and Supersport 300 classes.
Past, present and future of the Arco Motor University Team meet in our interview with Antonio Molina Garrido, Team Manager of Arco Motor University Team.
Antonio, what can you share about your 2023 campaign?
We’re not having much luck this year. In general there were some adaptation issues and our riders suffered some injuries. About Álvaro, it’s very difficult to get into the Supersport World Championship from Supersport 300, plus the level is very high due to the presence of important teams and experienced riders such as Nicolò Bulega and Stefano Manzi. It’s difficult for a rookie to shine in these conditions, but we’re finally seeing some steps forward and we managed to score our first points in Imola (13th place in Race 2, ed). Unfortunately he suffered an injury in Most, but we are working well with him and we will try to reach the top 10.
In Supersport 300 we were held back by various factors. For example, we struggled initially with the SC2 tire brought by Pirelli and our riders were repeatedly involved in crashes caused by their opponents. Despite everything, we are not giving up and we are working on the areas where we need to improve, in order to fight for the victory as we are doing in ESBK, where we top the standings in both Supersport 300 and Supersport classes. We are confident that we can further grow with Álvaro, Ruben and Gabriele.
In 2022 you triumphed in the Supersport 300 World Championship in your first year in the series, while this year you are facing more difficulties than expected. How are you living this situation?
It’s a difficult year, because last year we only had one rider in Supersport 300, while this year we have one spot in Supersport and two in SSP300 and the consequent expansion of the team in terms of logistics and riders has been a big challenge. Obviously we didn’t expect to have all these problems, but the only thing we can do is work hard to turn things around. If we were so strong in 2022, I don’t see why we can’t do it again.
You were talking about areas where you need to improve. What exactly are they?
We need to adopt a better strategy, try a few things to get even better…And hope for more luck!
What can you say about the support you get from Yamaha?
We are tightly connected to this brand, since we won the Spanish Supersport 300 Championship in 2017 on our debut together with Samuel Di Sora (currently a World Championship rider, ed). As an independent team, we have grown a lot year after year and we are receiving more and more support from Yamaha. Our goal is to further increase their trust in us and be even more involved in their projects for the growth of young drivers.
Speaking instead of the season in ESBK, things are going very well there.
It’s a dream. The level is very high in all classes, but we are managing to excel in Supersport with Andy Verdoia, while in Supersport 300 Gonzalo Sánchez is leading the championship with good advantage, and Unai Calatayud is fourth and has obtained three pole positions out of four rounds. We are doing a great job and we aim to continue on this path.
Now let’s talk about the team. What can you share about the origins of the Arco Motor University Team?
We are a team formed by current or former engineering students of the Universitat Politécnica de Valencia. Furthermore, we are also opening up to other universities and we receive many requests from young students who want to develop as engineers and work in motorsport. As a very young team, we want to show that you can achieve great results if you put a lot of enthusiasm and hard work on it, regardless of your age and experience.
An independent team, formed by students and ex-students of a university, already winning titles in Spain and in the Supersport 300 World Championship. Did you expect that at the beginning?
It was a dream. Our story began in the MotoStudent championship, where universities field bikes designed and built on their own, and from there we decided to get serious and become a real, professional racing team. Back then, we didn’t care much about the results, but we just wanted to grow and give our best. Then, things got better and better. We clearly didn’t expect to achieve so much, but it’s also true that at some point we started to believe in it and really hoped to get where we are now. With a lot of hard work, we made it.
In conclusion, what is the goal for your future?
In the Supersport 300 World Championship we aim to win the title again, while for Supersport our goal is to consolidate ourselves as a team. On the other hand, if we think of the team in general, we want to ensure that ESBK becomes the base where riders can grow and win, and then make it to the world championship.
And could a step to the Superbike World Championship be a dream on the long term?
Yes, we would like to get there, but we are a young team and first of all we want to become a reference in Supersport and continue to be on top in Supersport 300. We are sure that with hard work and with the necessary support, we will be able to do all of this and also debut in WorldSBK.
Palmen in Motorradsport thanks Antonio Molina for his availability and wishes him and his team the best for the next races.