Oriol Vidal: Superbikes Performance Engineer

Oriol Vidal is a young and exciting Performance Engineer with a passion for Motorsport. Not only does Oriol have experience working within the Superbikes World Championship, he is also an avid racer himself, achieving 2nd place in the Dakar Rally’s UTV category. In this interview, Oriol shares his inspirational ongoing journey into the world of motorsport.

Introduction

My name is Oriol Vidal, I’m from a small village called Llambilles in the north of Catalonia. I currently work as a Performance Engineer at Kawasaki Provec Racing Team which is the official team of the green brand racing at the Superbikes World Championship (WorldSBK).

I’ve been Freelance since the beginning of my career, so before beginning to work for an official brand I also worked for the MOTO 2 Team Stylobike – Petronas Testing and Wild Cards in the World Championship and in the MOTO E Team Pramac working in spanish races of the World Cup.

A Passion for Motorsport

My life has been all about Motorsport. At 3 years old my parents gave me an ATV as a present, after that I started riding and racing. Since I was a child, as we had no money, I had to be my own mechanic together with my father.

At 16 years old I realized I’d never be able to make a living as just a rider, because the ATV world is very small. So, I decided to continue enjoying racing as far as I could but I knew I had to find a way to keep close to that world.

The avenue I found was working in a racing team in a field with a greater budget. I decided to study Mechanical Engineering with the clear objective to arrive one day within the world of Motorsport.

Aside from that I was able to continue racing and I’ve achieved some great achievements, such as, finishing 2nd in the BAJAS World Championship and 2nd in the UTV category of the Dakar Rally.

Kawasaki Provec Racing Team

Most of my professional career as an engineer has been in WorldSBK. I started in a Satellite Team and then progressed up the ladder season by season until I established contact with Kawasaki, who have a Racing Team not so far from my home next to “Circuit de Catalunya”, and that was very interesting for me because I wasn’t particularly happy with the idea of leaving my hometown.

My job at Kawasaki consists of Calibrating the ECU to have the best possible performance (as the role name says).

I have to ensure that all the sensor values are inside the optimal ranges for the safety of the engine and the rider and obviously for its performance. I need to take care of the mileage of them, replace them and do the calibrations when it’s needed.

That’s the “safety” part of my job. Then I have to work with all the controls which we have available to give support to the rider to be able to improve their lap time and be as much as possible and for them to be comfortable with the motorcycle.

Most of my work consists of;

-Traction Control

-Anti Wheelie

-Anti Jerk

-Engine Brake

-Power

I have to work in close contact with the Crew Chief to give him the necessary data to improve the chassis and think of possible mechanical improvements.

All of these responsibilities are across a racing weekend. Then away from the track there is a lot of development,thinking of new possible strategies, mileages etc.

Greatest Achievements

I have now been with Kawasaki Racing for just over a year and 2020 has been a difficult year because of COVID-19. I work for Provec but I am provided to one of their Satellite Teams, the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing.

I am Obviously happy because KAWASAKI won the Riders Championship with Jonathan Rea but maybe the greatest achievement was in the last race of the season, when Alex Lowes crashed and Kawasaki was fighting for the manufacturers Championship with Ducati. Thanks to our job with Xavi Forés, Kawasaki was able to win the title by just one point.

Advice to future engineers

Education is important, for sure, it’s a must to have an engineering background. But I want to encourage people who maybe don’t have the resources to study an expensive masters degree that is exclusively about Motorsport. Simply being an engineer opened the door to the world of motorsport, but back to when I started my career, I had no specific motorsport studies.

Never give up, be patient and try, try, and keep trying. E-mail every Team, every person you find who could help you. Start working in Motorsport, research, and be open to start working “for free”. The beginnings are never easy and most of the companies you know have to do an investment the first year.

There is one thing I say to the people that contact me about starting a career in motorsport – Are you paying to study your Degree or masters course? If the answer is yes, why are you not thinking about working for a year to earn some experience?

Thank you Oriol for sharing your story with every aspiring engineer at the Motorsport Engineers Network!

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