This year, Leandro “Tati” Mercado joined the MIE Racing Honda Team where he rode the Honda CBR 1000RR for the first time in the opening round of the WSBK at Aragón in Spain. As the official satellite team for Honda, Tati will work with MIE to help develop the bike further under the watchful eye of team principal Midori Moriwaki, who couldn’t be more delighted with her new signing.
Midori, you’ve signed Tati for 2021. How did this come about?
Yes, Tati Mercado has started riding for us. The connection came through Motul, actually. They rang and suggested we talk to Tati for my team. He’s a really talented rider and knows a lot about racing. But one of the big points for me is that not only is he a fast rider, but he also comes from Argentina. In the past, I managed the Moriwaki Junior Cup, and because of that, I had experience with riders from South America. Riders there have a much more limited chance to race than in the rest of the world, but it’s perhaps because of this that they are much more determined. I thought that bringing Tati onboard would be a good challenge and combination. I need to have a challenging rider like him. I want a fighter like Rocky Balboa [laughs]. Of course, there are dozens of great riders out there, but it’s not a matter of money, for me the rider’s spirit is much more important. I didn’t know Tati personally before we signed him, but I could tell from his career how much of a fighter he is. I’m a fighter, and he’s a fighter, and it’s a great combination. To have Motul’s advice made the answer even simpler.
Is it nerve wracking as a team boss to work with a new rider?
If I was new to doing this, I would be nervous. I’ve been in this world for 25 years, working in America, Japan, Europe and Australia. And have hired many different riders. I keep focusing on what we are doing and analyse everything. This is my character. What’s missing? What are the good parts? Trying to find the best scenarios. It’s like a puzzle, working out the right combinations. We really believe Tati can perform very, very well.
No sooner had Tati signed, than he put his leg over the CBR at the first race…
A couple of weekends ago we had the first race, and we had many things are going on. We only agreed to work together just before the Barcelona test in April. And then, we were racing. I really appreciated working with him at this first race. He is such a nice person with a good heart.
What are your ambitions for the rest of the year?
Starting with the Aragón round we have embarked upon a bike development path that will see us undertake a series of tests over the coming weeks. In doing so, we believe we will be able to compete at a much higher level than we saw in Aragón throughout the rest of the season. The decision to miss a limited number of events was not easy, but we think this is the right way to step up a level this year, now that the issues and challenges caused by the pandemic are finally starting to be resolved. Now is the time to push hard to exploit the potential of the fantastic teamwork of the MIE Racing Honda Team, our bike and our rider Tati Mercado, so to achieve much better results over the season.
You’ve had a long-standing relationship with Motul. How did it start?
My relationship with Motul has been going for about 25 years. Back to when I was working for Moriwaki Engineering in Japan on the old Honda twin bike, the VTR 1000F. At the time, we had lots of engine issues during testing. Back then, we were using a different lubricant brand, but then we heard that Motul products could be suitable. We talked to Motul Japan, and they started to supply us. Suddenly, all the problems were gone. Since then, we’ve enjoyed a really great long-term relationship with Motul. Every day we get stronger and stronger and I’m very pleased to have their support.