The Dutchman Marcel Duinker - in addition to being track engineer, Team Chief of the Kawasaki Team, of which, the British driver Tom Sykes is a contender for the World Superbike title 2013 - is at the same time a friend of Albania and of the Albanians.
His ties or his sympathy for Albania?
They derive from the fact that he married an Albanian woman. Marcel and Arjana live in Belgium and two beautiful children were born from their marriage.
Today Marcel is present with us in an interview, realized through a conversation about his profession and the passion for motorcycles, on Albania, Italy and more.
Marcel, welcome between us.
Thanks, welcome back.
First of all, congratulations on the results achieved so far in the 2013 World Superbike Championship, in which, your Kawasaki Team driver, Tom Sykes, is a contender for the world title. This, I think, is due not only to the merit of the pilot, but also to the team work, excellently directed by you.
Thanks so much.
My role in our team carries an enormous responsibility. I have shaped our group, I manage my team, I am the coordinator and responsible for everything that happens in it. We work in a team of 10 members, including technicians, mechanics, engineers.
I am solely responsible for the decisions that are made for the team and for the driver himself. I am the first to propose ideas, which we study and evaluate together in the group. It is true, I am the manager, but ours is a team work and our results depend only on the group, on the understanding of the team. Our understanding and our collaboration are very strong and this has made possible our positive results obtained so far.
Of the recent World SBK 2013 races, I followed the Laguna Seca circuit, where Tom Sykes won. But, the course of the race - divided for reasons of track safety in two phases - in the second part, concentrated in only 12 laps, became a bit tense and aggressive. How did you experience this from the garage?
I have been doing this job for thirteen years and it is always the same when referring to emotions. We start the race with a positive stress, which starts gradually even from Thursday, to reach the maximum in Sunday's race. It is an unusual job with regards to strong emotions, the passion that unites us, the motivation and for everything inherent in it.
We perceive more or less the same emotions as the driver, we are so passionate that we seem to be racing on the track with him. Ours is a positive tension. We are waiting for him to win with so much emotion and the intensity of this emotion is amplified when we notice that the driver is at a good point and is about to win the race.
In a nutshell, these are my feelings as I follow the race from the screen.
Your passion for motorcycles, when is it born?
I grew up on an island in Northern Holland. My father had a dealership and I spent my whole childhood on motorcycles. So my father passed on to me the passion for motorcycles, but at the same time - that of motorcycles - since the environment that has always surrounded me has meant that this passion has become a natural, innate thing for me.
Therefore, Marcel lives his childhood among motorcycles, but perhaps this, later, leads him to deepen his studies on motorcycles. You graduate in automotive engineering. After graduation, do you change your vision on motorcycles?
I must say that my passion for motorcycles always remained the same, even after graduation. Why should I add that I, as a child, was very determined and determined in what I would have done when I grew up, that is, focusing on the profession I am doing now!
I can gladly tell you that - while I was in elementary school - when the teacher asked us students, the classic question: "What will you do when you grow up?", - I was ready to talk to her about my dream about this profession and more: to entertain her for several minutes discussing only on motorcycles. Therefore, I saw myself already convinced, projected towards this work that already fascinated me at that time.
From the university, I kept what I learned about the discipline and the methodology of the strategies to select and exploit, in order to reach a high level of performance of the bikes. Also on how to move and analyze different situations, with various levels of difficulty.
But, in the end, I realize that everything I do today is something innate, that is not for everyone, that studying is not enough to be able to achieve. It is something strong inside you that you cultivate with passion, to which is added the experience over the years, discipline and responsibility.
While reading the story of your life, I noticed that when you were very young, at the age of 18 years, you found employment as a technician on the Honda. You became technician of the Aoki pilot, who at that time won the World Championship. What did the victory of the driver you followed mean to you - so young?
At that time I was very young and unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy the victory of the World Championship by our driver, as I was thinking of having fun only with the various journeys and movements connected to these races.
That year for me was like a dream - because I only stayed with them for a year - then I started college and changed everything for me. That work experience really remained like a dream, like something passing.
As you follow the riders from your Kawasaki box, do you have the thought of racing on the track too?
To tell the truth, I don't have any particular desire to run on the track and above all in that way - for the simple fact that - like these pilots, of very high level, few if they count in the world, so it is clear that if, some of us others would try to imitate them, it would become ridiculous. (smiles)
They grew up on the bikes! It is a bit like in all the other sport categories - especially when dealing with world champions - it would become impossible to imitate them.
In the end, everyone has their own role! ..
Is there a competition in particular that you carry in your heart?
Different races, different emotions and I could not distinguish any, but in last year's World Cup final race, in France in the Magny-Cours circuit, our driver, Tom Sykes, won the race, but for scoring superiority - alone one point - first place on the podium, Max Biaggi conquered him ..
In the first race in Australia, Tom had fallen and was not in good shape, in Spain we had technical problems. But the time came for the race in the Netherlands and we won there! That race marked the positive turning point for us. I must say that I consider that race as the most special and since then we have only won! Before that race we were positioned sixth and from there, only positive feelings arrived for us.
Who is the Italian driver you know best professionally?
This is Marco Melandri.
I consider him as a very talented driver. In my personal opinion, he withdrew very quickly from the Moto GP (to move to the Superbike category). He should have continued and could have even won the Championship this year.
Have you ever been to Albania? What impressions do you report on the cities you visited, on the Albanian traditions? If you visited the capital, Tirana, what impressed you most about it?
Yes, I was there once in Albania. I visited Tirana.
As soon as I set foot in the capital, I said to myself: "Ok, this is the city where my wife was born and grew up!"
But, I immediately had the perception that - previously - it should not have been easy to live in that environment. Because I noticed that still, despite the close geographical distance with Europe - especially from Northern Europe - Albania is very far away.
I noticed that the nature of Albania is beautiful, its climate is just as beautiful, but my impression was that which, unfortunately, the people of Albania itself, are not able to enjoy the beauties of this nature, completely, due to various difficulties and deficiencies in the infrastructure and the organization of life in the country.
The first three or four days, I struggled to settle down, but afterwards I found myself very well. One thing struck me particularly: the Tirana car traffic! I must tell you that I have driven the car in Brazil, Indonesia, Africa, Russia but, the traffic on the streets of Tirana is noticeable on all! ..
After a while, I was also able to learn the road traffic rules in Tirana, though! ..
I was very impressed by the hospitality of the Albanians! Very friendly and courteous, all those we met, simple people to communicate and these things remained in the heart of Albania.
I suppose you also know Albanian cuisine. A typical Albanian culinary specialty that you particularly like?
To know the Albanian cuisine, I have not only noticed this by going to Albania, as this kitchen is also consumed at home, practiced by my wife.
However, a typical specialty that I prefer is Byrek, but the one prepared in a twisted and served form - accompanied, at will - with a cream of natural yoghurt, seasoned with garlic and olive oil. (smiles) ..
In Tirana, I also liked the quality and flavor of the 'Tirana' beer.
And in Italy, which places did you visit for the holidays?
Italy - both for me and for my wife - is our favorite holiday destination. It occupies the first place among our preferences to spend rest days with the family. We visited Lake Lugano, we were also in Madesimo, in Lombardy, to ski.
Would you like to return to Italy to visit some other city?
Certainly. We would prefer to visit Venice and Rome. Italy's history, culture and art fascinate us.
Then, as far as Italian cuisine is concerned, we consider it the first in Europe!
I, in particular, love Japanese cuisine and consider it the best in the world, but instead in Europe, Italy - for the kitchen - holds the 'primacy'.
And finally Marcel, what is the message that you intend to convey to young people on the management and respect of speed on the street, while they generally drive cars and in particular, motorcycles?
When you are young, you usually do not perceive the danger you face as you run hard down the street. I myself, from a very young age, went fast in motion, without realizing the risks I was taking, the risks to which I subjected my life and that of others. Around the age of 25 years, I gained more awareness and in a serious way, about what I risked driving like that ..
All that is transmitted on television by the world of motor racing and those of motorcycling, must absolutely not be imitated by young people on the street. The tracks and race circuits are another world, but on the road, the rules of road traffic and speed limits must be respected.
I often see young people running too fast on motorcycles and without adequate clothing in terms of safety and protection. Pilots wear very sophisticated clothes, designed specifically for their safety. And it is also for this reason that I am sorry, when I see young people, risking their life on the street, in this way. So, to them I advise so much prudence, to take the due precautions and the respect of the code of the road.
This interview is also available in English language