We have a conversation with the Team Principal of arguably the most successful team on the grid, 24-7 racing. The team that carted the handful of awards at the 2018 BT Championships;
- Champion 600cc
- 2nd runner up 600cc
- Champion 1000cc
- 1st runner up 1000cc and
- Rookie of the Year
See Interview after the cut
NM: First all, congratulations to the entire team on their victory at the BT. Two riders on the podium in each category. Did that surpass your expectations?
AE: I was expecting a strong showing in both the Superbike and Superstock
categories but I frankly would not have written the script this way. But as
always with racing, anything can happen once the flag drops.
NM: Can we get the back story of the creation of 24-7 racing. What was the rider selection process like for riders?
AE: Racing has always been in my DNA. Way back in the late 80s, as an
undergraduate abroad, I raced in 250 motocross and subsequently some
rallycross and have remained an ardent biker and motorsport enthusiast since
then. So when I learnt of the BT last year I just had to attend. At that point 24-
7Racing only existed in my imagination. The race presented an opportunity for
me to ‘screen’ partners and racers I wanted to bring on board, and that was
how I selected riders after choosing Al Pacino as my partner. Considering that
24-7Racing is only 1 yr old, that’s not a bad start.
NM: Which of the riders’ performance were you most impressed with at the BT?
AE: All my racers impressed me. Argo was very hungry for victory, Al Pacino
a 2-time champ even showed more hunger, JD who had a rocket of a bike
under him was an underdog that was ready to spring surprises but I would say
Fly Girl. Even though I personally coached and motivated her I never knew
she had something deep down inside her she could evoke on raceday.
NM: What does it entail running a team like 24-7 racing?
AE: We are a large team, probably the largest of all teams. At the last count
there are 12 of us, 12 active committed individuals with roles defined.
Managing them wasn’t without challenges but people management is a skill
I’m blessed with and as such I was able to almost effortlessly deal with it.
Because we are a large team, running the team is a huge financial task and
the fact that we operate with the best equipment further compounds an
already compounded financial problem. It however didn’t deter us.
NM: How do you ensure that their personal goals and that of the team always remain aligned?
AE: Like I said before I am a good people manager. We identified one global
goal that resonates with all riders and focused on that. I had a personal
relationship with all my riders and we had team cohesion in the team. It was
not by accident that all my riders and I stay in the same town. We would meet
in the 24-7Racing Clubhouse almost everyday to discuss racing matters, joke,
gel and bond. Our adoption of ‘I win team wins’ policy helped a lot
NM: How are the riders incentivized; salaries, bonuses based on performance?
AE: We do not have a salary structure per say but all deployment costs are
taken care of. I also provided every race bike, not just any race bike, modern
race-ready machines tuned to individual rider needs and requirements. We
also have winning bonuses, N500k, N300k and N200k for the 1 st , 2nd &3rd
respectively. Above they my racers fully inspired and motivated.
NM: We could not help but notice that riders in 24-7 do not have uniform racing leathers. Care to shed some light on this?
AE: Yes we didn’t have uniform gear. A gear company promised us
sponsorship, last minute it didn’t fall through. Hopefully in 2019 it won’t
NM: The sports is still so young and as a result, sponsorship has not really kicked off which results in Team principals spending quite a bit of their money to keep the team running, do you ever question the passion, rationale of managing a team?
AE: Sometimes I think I have gone mad, as in bonkers! I sat back and
calculated how much I spent in 24-7Racing this year and I am embarrassed
sharing it with anybody. Like you rightly pointed out, the sport is young and
hopefully in the next few years it won’t be this way.
NM: Team strategy has not really come to the fore this year, any plans to step up strategies depending on the race especially during racing.
AE: Every team had a strategy. Let me speak for ours, we had strategies. We
had a strategy for almost every scenario but I will like to play this one close to
my chest. Anyday 24-7Racing stops racing I will be glad to talk about this.
NM: I cannot help but notice that no team has a pit board just yet. Won’t this help with passing messages to the riders, things like laps left, where direct rival is and so on.
AE: We had a pit board. But because other teams will take advantage of the
info we would display we chose the most unconventional method ever, the
umbrella. Holding it open overhead meant something; closed pointing down
meant something else. We were able to encode 10 different messages using
the umbrella. That way we were able to fully communicate the riders. Very
NM: Are we expecting any rider shuffle in the coming months especially with the limit of riders you can have in each category?
AE: We have not yet started actively planning for 2019. All our riders are
available and I have asked them to sit back, relax and enjoy the wins until we
meet 1 st week on 2019 by His Grace.
NM: You have officially announced the launch of 7 racing. From what we have heard so far, the main aim is to improve the riders on the grid. Does that not seen like creating competition for 24-7 racing?
AE: 7Racing is a feeder team that will train and equip upcoming racers. The aim
is to help develop replacements for the likes of Argo, Al Pacino, Sama &co.
We would be happy to see a student of 7Racing acquired by another team
and doing well there. Life isn’t all about winning, sometimes we have to give.
NM: How do people sign up to be a member of 7 racing? Is it exclusive to just Abuja at this time? Basically all the information needed for potential riders looking to join the team.
AE: Al Pacino is fully in charge of 7Racing, including rider selection. Any
interested student should contact him. We will be shortly proving contact
NM: Thank you for your time.
AE: Any time