Episode Three, Season Two of ‘Behind the Dream’ looks at the ‘tyre and petrol boys’ – Javier Ortiz and Juna Llansá, two mechanics whose career paths found them closely linked to champions and brought together in the Repsol Honda Team.
The only point of contact between the motorcycle and the racetrack, tyres are one of the most critical elements of a MotoGP machine. For Marc Marquez, Javier ‘Javi’ Ortiz Alcaraz is the one responsible for the tyres and much more: “My role in the Repsol Honda Team is prepare the tyres, do the gasoline. I also do the pitboard and help out where I can. My job is not just about doing one single thing, I also prepare the fairings and when I finish before the others, I go out and help with the bikes.” Juan ‘Juanito’ Llansá’s responsibilities are the same, now for Joan Mir, and his work brings him great satisfaction, no matter the result: “I carry it in my blood, I take satisfaction from the feeling you get from every race even if the rider does well or not.”
Although starting from different points, both Juanito and Javi’s careers have become intertwined with two iconic World Champions: Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez. Juanito proudly carries his time with Lorenzo on his body, a tattoo on his leg immortalizing their five World Championships together. “He was like a son, and I have the tattoos of my grandchildren and only him on the other side. I think it represents enough, no?” The unique respects and relationship between rider and mechanic is something which develops and only grows deeper over time. It’s a fact Javi knows himself, “In 2011 I start to work with Marc in Moto2. For me, he is like a little brother. I worried a lot about him.” This kind of relationship adds a new dynamic to work, “When he crashes, for me is not like he crashed, and we have to repair the bike. The first thought is if he’s safe?” Javi adds.
Both mechanics are aware of the potential dangers and in turn the pressure that comes with their work. “On top of the bike is a person who is going 300km/h and there is a brake failure… Or with the petrol or tyre pressure, can represent a serious problem,” reflects Juanito, who himself carries ailments such as osteoarthritis and hearing damage from a life spent in racing.
Javi has also come to deal with the intense situations one can experience, “Here you can’t be stressed or nervous. There are moments, yes, there are moments of stress and nerves, but you have to know how to swallow them.”
Both have experienced the highs of winning multiple World Championships with iconic riders and both have had to endure hard moments of injury and loss. The pair remain confident that the situation for HRC and the Repsol Honda Team can, and will, change. “We hope this is resolved as soon as possible,” wishes Juanito. “For new riders who arrive and the new generation of mechanics, because me… I’m leaving! Juanito Llansá has one season left.”
The full episode is available on the Honda Racing Corporation YouTube page, along with all previous seasons and episodes of Behind the Dream.