BEHIND THE SCENES AND ON THE TOOLS

BEHIND EVERY GREAT RACE BIKE IS THE GUY THAT BUILT IT

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While it’s the riders and team managers who often take the glory for the results, often the hard working mechanic is the man behind the success on race day. They work long hours and devote their lives to building a masterpiece of a race bike that gets destroyed before their eyes each and every race day.With the break in racing, let’s meet the men behind the scenes who are the driving force of Yamaha’s Racing Teams.

CDR’s Brad McAlpine, Serco’s Paul Teasdale, Yamalube’s Mike Ward, WBR’s Travis Whitten, Yamaha Off Road’s AJ Roberts and YRT’s Kev Marshall. All of them have years of experience and a long list of championship success to their names. Let’s find out more about these weird and wonderful characters.

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AJ no doubt wondering if there’s a part of the bike he can grind to save 000.3 of a gram

What is your favourite tool that you wouldn’t leave the workshop without?
Brad: T-bars Can’t work on a bike without one.
Paul: Torque wrench
Mike: Snap-on Torque wrench
Travis: Everyone will say a torque wrench but let’s be modern and go for a Lap-top these days
AJ: A rattle gun and a grinder. I need them both!
Kevin: Dyno! I know I can’t take one to a race meeting, but I would if I could!

#Neither AJ or Kev are joking here!

What is your favourite race bike that you have built and why?
Brad: Dean Ferris 2017 YZ450F in the US. Aiden and I built the bike in a car park with just a tool bag we bought from Australia and then Dean raced it to second place in a moto that had the US guys scratching their heads. 
Paul:  The 2020 YZ250F – the most power we have had and the bike is great to work on.
Mike: The 2014 YZ250F for Jed Beaton. It was a new bike that we had to work out and then I went a bit OCD on the frame with the polish. 
Travis: Aaron Tanti’s YZ250F in 2017. We put a lot of effort into it, the bike was quick and not a DNF all season.
AJ: I would say the WR500F we built for Damon Stolkie when he won Finke. It took a lot of time and energy and then for him to win it made it special for all of us.
Kevin: 2007 and 2008 Yamaha R1 Superbike. Good bike to work on and a screamer engine that we found good gains in.

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CDR has seen plenty of days like this and Brad is a massive part of the success

Why did you become a race team mechanic?
Brad: I was never going to make it as a racer and being a mechanic was the next closest thing to it.
Paul: I Love the sport and when I finished racing it was the next step to take to still be involved
Mike: I raced and enjoyed working on my own bike. There is something special about building a race bike that still excites me.
Travis: Fun to build a nice bike and then show it off with a good rider who can ride it to its limits.
AJ: I grew up in a work shop and was always around people that worked on things. I enjoy that aspect of it and when you are an off road rider, its part of what we do, so it was a natural progression from racing.
Kevin: I was a diesel mechanic and moved over to motorcycles. I have always been interested in not just fixing things, but improving them.

What’s the most rewarding part of the job for you?
Brad: Winning championships.
Paul: Winning championships.
Mike: Seeing everyone on the team succeed.
Travis: When it all comes together, The rider is happy, the bike performed well and the result comes.
AJ: The result. Its not always winning but what you can achieve with the tools and riders at your disposal.
Kevin: Everyone will say it, but winning championships

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Serco Yamaha has a long history of wins so there’s pressure on everyone involved from the rider to the mechanic

What’s the worst part of the job?
Brad: Setting up the truck.
Paul: Repacking exhausts or a mechanical failure
Mike: Repacking mufflers and seeing a new bike destroyed in a mud race, often by the time it gets to the first turn.
Travis: The unappreciated hours behind the scenes that people don’t see. It’s never a 9 to 5 job!
AJ: The clean-up and the pack up. By far!
Kevin: Pack up after a long weekend, everyone is keen to get home.

What is your favourite event you have worked at?
Brad: MXoN in Spain in 1996. All my childhood heroes were there racing. Riders like McGrath, Emig, Everts, everyone i looked up to as a kid. 
Paul: MXoN in 2008 with Billy Mackenzie in England. We had a great day going until the final lap of the last race when Billy crashed. It was awesome to have the event in my own country and the crowd was huge.
Mike: MXoN in 2015 in France. The crowd was next level. I had been to a couple before, but there were nothing like there were in France that year.
Travis: I did a GP round with Hugh McKay in 2014. First time at a big event like that and it was a real eye opener. 
AJ: I will say that A4DE as once the riders take off, they work on the bikes and I like to see them changing their own tyres for a change.
Kevin: We raced at Laguna-Sega in the USA during 2008 and that was a great experience.

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Travis Whitten’s favourite bike build was Aaron Tanti’s YZ250F in 2017
Damien Ashenhurst
About Damien Ashenhurst 1699 Articles
Managing Editor of DIRT ACTION magazine. Damo doesn't like cheese or ISIS. Can often be found riding in mud because it's closest to the natural environment of a squid.