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Roberto Locatelli: “Canet’s comeback? A rider does it to feel alive”

LOCA’S IN(side)LAP – Roberto Locatelli, former 125cc World Champion and Fantic Racing Moto2 Team Manager, does not only take us into the pit box this time but in the mind of a racer. Seemingly ordinary guys that, once on a bike, are capable of extraordinary performances. Like Aron Canet at the recent French GP, conquering the Pole Position and fighting for a podium spot until the very last lap – only two weeks after surgery on this left foot. A true warrior.  

“I will try to explain what you live as a rider; what I used to be and what they are today. We used to wear a kind of leather, the design has changed nowadays but, on the inside, there is still the same ‘beast’ – the rider.” Roberto Locatelli is well aware of this. In his 16 seasons as a World Championship rider, the Italian experienced all the highs (9 GP wins, 25 podiums, 18 poles and the 125cc title in 2000) and lows of life on the edge.  

In the mind of a world-class rider 

“How does a rider react after suffering an injury? I remember that one time when I woke up from coma. I had an issue on my ankle, an external fixator was used to stabilize the fractures. I was in a wheelchair but when I saw Doctor Costa, I asked him straight away when I would be able to jump on my bike again,” Locatelli recalls a serious accident he suffered in 2007.  

“I guess that Aron Canet experienced the same feeling. Like Marc Márquez in 2020, when he attempted a comeback in Jerez just a week after breaking his humerus but was unable to race. Jorge Lorenzo at the Dutch TT, who returned on track after injuring his collarbone in Thursday's Free Practice, finishing fifth in the race. Another time in Assen, Loris Capirossi also raced with a fractured hand. They all proved the same point. We are riders and when you become a professional, you dedicate your life to it. It becomes that one thing that makes you feel alive. When you are forced to sit out, it is normal that you want to be back at it as soon as possible. Because as a racer, the way to feel ‘normal‘, is to ride a bike. You don’t do it for the money, you do it to feel alive. And this is why, even after a very bad accident, we do feel sad but not scared. You don’t lose courage; the fascination does not disappear. You don’t stop loving what it means to be a rider. With a broken leg or another issue that no longer allows us to ride, that forces us to stop, we go into stand-by. At the same time, we cannot wait for our battery to be charged again, to be able to restart. And the charger, in the case of a rider, is his bike.” 

Canet did something out of the ordinary 

“Aron Canet did something superhuman in my eyes, as I am no longer a rider, but I do understand how he was capable of doing it. Did he surprise me? Yes, because you never know how prepared and ready you can be. It was not his comeback two weeks after surgery that surprised me but the pole came as a surprise. And not the pole itself values his performance but the fact that even with physical issues, with a broken leg, he did the fastest lap time. Of course, this does not mean that he would go twice as fast if he was fit, but it still shows just how strong he is. I was amazed by his pole position and by the way he managed the race, running in second until the final laps and fighting for a podium he missed out on in the end, and that was probably more related to the complicated start than to his race management.” 

“What Aron Canet did was something extraordinary and the world took notice of it – not just of the fact that racers are capable of doing this but the fact that Aron is one of them. He belongs to these world-class riders”, the former World Champion highlighted.


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