Carlo Toccafondi - Aprilia Racing Mechanic

Carlo Toccafondi - Aprilia Racing Mechanic

Our team

When you approach the back of the garage, going by the two trailers with Aprilia graphics, it is not uncommon to hear a constant buzz. Following it there is a good probability that it is a pneumatic grinder, and it is just as probable that the person using it in an almost artistic way is a true Tuscan, a thin man. Not for long though, because while you are still thinking about what to ask him, he has already dashed off. In the garage, among wrenches and bolts, testing the piece that he has just built. Or looking for the calliper to check a measurement. That's the way "Tocco" is: we don't have a piece? No problem, we'll make it. A mount needs to be modified? 5 minutes and it's ready.

An essential presence on a team that works for months at a time far from the racing department, with a good supply of tools but obviously without any machinery that is too bulky to be transported to the various circuits. And, even in the computer and ECU age, a bike is still a mechanical vehicle. That requires constant maintenance and, why not? A good dose of craftsmanship.

"When I began, in 1990, the official Aprilia team in the 125 category was made up of four mechanics and the rider - confirms Carlo Toccafondi, born in 1976, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini mechanic in Stefan Bradl's garage.

"There were less than 20 people working in the Aprilia Racing Department that supported us, and they were already protagonists in both the 125 and 250 categories. I worked with Alessandro Gramigni, a fellow Tuscan, and in 125 you had to work to earn every single point. Just imagine that we measured the connecting rod bearing rollers one by one in order to gain a percentage of horsepower. Which, when summed with other little things, could make the difference."

Your best memory of these 26 years?

"Definitely the first World Championship won with Gramigni, in 1992 in the 125 category. It was also Aprilia's first Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing title. Now that the titles have multiplied to a few dozen, it all seems easy, but at the time we knew that we had begun something truly important." 

What drives you to come back to the track almost every weekend?

"It may seem trite, but it's passion. In racing things do not always go the way you would like. There are years when you have fun and bring home a result that rewards your hard work. Then there are others where you sweat nonstop and it seems like you never get out of the tunnel. There, in that moment, something goes off that makes you go on, it can't be anything except passion." 

The most important thing about your job as a track mechanic?

"I think all of my colleagues have that in common. While you are working you don't think about it, but there is a little voice in your head that speaks up every now and then. You begin to think that a rider is about to go onto the track, where he will dive into a turn at 250 kph with the bike that, I suppose we can say, you just finished assembling. And you think that all it would take is one loose screw to create problems. In our job there is no room for error. You must always be focused on what you are doing. Of course, 5 minutes of relaxation are understandable, but when you get into the thick of things, there is no room for distraction. Only at the end of the race do you breathe a sigh of relief. And you get back to work!"