The accident he had in 2008, following which he lost his left lower leg, stopped his career as an Alpine Skiing World Cup racer and turned his whole life upside-down. However, Matthias Lanzinger didn’t give up and he later started a successful campaign in paralympic skiing, as he scored three World Cup wins and won two silver medals at 2014 Paralympics in Sochi.
Once he retired from skiing, Lanzinger decided to start one more career in another sport he’s always loved: motorcycle racing. KTM Ambassador for more than ten years now, the Austrian entered International Bridgestone Handy Race, which is the main international championship for disabled riders. Organized and promoted by Italian association Di. Di. Diversamente Disabili (owned by Emiliano Malagoli), the series provided a great restart opportunity also to Lanzinger, who constantly settles in the top 10 on his KTM 1290 Super Duke.
Palmen in Motorradsport had the chance to interview Matthias Lanzinger in Misano, during the sole round of 2020 International Bridgestone Handy Race (which happened besides Octo Cup and Italian ELF CIV Championship rounds).
Matthias, could you tell about the start of your career in paralympic motorcycle racing?
I got to know this championship during an event held at Red Bull Ring. I immediately realized that the level is very high, so I decided to join it. Three years ago I made my debut in Mugello and since last year I am a permanent rider of the series.
How was the first impact?
It’s a very professional championship and you can see it by the fact it shares the paddock with series like CIV, MotoGP or WorldSBK (and FIM EWC, ed). I love all the circuits we ride on and for me, to race with these riders is a great opportunity. It’s a lot of fun.
How did you get passionate for motorcycle racing?
I’ve always liked the sport. Although I started skiing when I was three years old and alpine skiing became my life, I’ve loved motorcycle racing since when I was a child and then I started practicing it as a hobby and participating in some races, even when I was still a professional skier. After my accident, I had more time and possibilities to ride. As soon as I retired from paralympic skiing (in 2015, ed), I decided to turn my passion for motorcycle racing into a new career opportunity. When I knew that there’s a championship for disabled riders, I realized that I wanted to join it.
Which championships do you watch? And who is your favorite rider?
I follow both MotoGP and WorldSBK very closely. Moroever, I’ve been KTM Ambassador for many years and I have followed their MotoGP project since the beginning. I’m happy to see that they have finally got to the next level, because I know how much effort and passion is behind it. It would be great if they finally scored their first MotoGP podium on the dry track (in 2018 Pol Espargaró was third in Valencia under the rain, ed).
Which similarities have you found between skiing and motorcycle racing?
When I skied, I mainly participated in Downhill and Super-G races and I have to say that they are very similar to motorcycle racing. The way you go into the corners, the feeling that you have, the way you “play” with gravity…It’s all very similar! Going to the circuit and riding my bike in summer was a very good training, because it helped me going fast and entering the corners correctly. It was a perfect combination.
In conclusion, what’s your advice for people who live something similar to what you experienced?
It’s important not to give up and to understand that life goes on anyway. But, especially, it’s important to do something that you love, no matter if you are disabled or not. If you have a goal and you want to reach it, you can make it also if you are disabled. Riders like us are a great example of it and it’s very good to spread this message among people who are in similar situations as ours. I love it.
Palmen in Motorradsport is grateful to Matthias Lanzinger for his kindness and wishes him the best for his future.