From a Fan Helping Other Fans to a Professional in the Paddock

Susanna Sola is the Tem Coordinator and PR Support for CFMOTO Racing Prüstel GP. Before officially joining the Prüstel GP in 2019, Susanna already worked in the MotoGP paddock for many years, with a clear goal of becoming a real member of this big family.

In 2022, Prüstel GP joined hands with CFMOTO, the Chinese manufacturer making a debut in the Moto3 World Championship. On March 20, Carlos Tatay made history for himself and CFMOTO at Mandalika International Street Circuit, starting from pole position for the very first time, taking his maiden podium in the World Championship as well as achieving this podium result for CFMOTO in only their second Grand Prix.

Coming off of this great result made possible by the team effort, we interviewed Susanna to get some behind-the-scenes story of her experience in the paddock as well as the CFMOTO project. Let’s see what she has to share.

© Photos provided by Susanna Sola

Paddock Sorority (PS): What was your first exposure to motorsport?

Susanna Sola: My parents have always been fans of motorsport. We live close to Misano, and when the World Championship came back to that track in 2007, they took me there to watch the first race live. It was love at first sight for me!

PS: What made you decide you want to work in the paddock? Why did you choose to work in the capacity of admin and media? 

SS: Since I was 14 years old I had something clear in mind: I wanted to work in sports industry. My options were football, the Olympics or my biggest passion, MotoGP. So, thanks to my skills in learning languages, I understood the marketing/operations side could be my best option to enter this world. Currently my role is team coordinator and PR support.

PS: You used to work for Marquez’s fan club, can you tell us about how that job came about and how it prepared you for a full time job in MotoGP?

SS: I was collaborating with the fan club for the Italian rounds, helping them with the organization of grandstands and with paddock tours. This helped me a lot to understand some procedures of the MotoGP paddock, as well as dealing with people. Now I take care of team guests, some years ago I was a fan helping other fans.

PS: Since you were also organizing paddock tours for fans when you were collaborating with the fan club, could you talk about some of the big differences between that and working directly for a team?

SS: The big difference is, when people say they are busy… they are busy for real! Sometimes as a fan you don´t understand that people may have some urgent tasks to do. And if they forget about something or take too long for something else, it´s nothing mean… It´s just everyone is always very busy in the paddock.

PS: What was your first GP like? When in your first season did you feel “I got this”? 

SS: My first GP was in 2019 in Jerez. I can´t deny that at first, it was very difficult. Many info to learn, a tight schedule and rhythm, a lot of stress in order to have everything organized in the best way. Sometime I still struggle to believe I made my dream come true. I think the moment when I realized was in October of the same year, when I was in Australia. I had always dreamed of visiting Phillip Island race track and of course, as a fan, it would have been very difficult. But I was there, as a team member and it was an amazing feeling.

PS: What has been your highlight in the paddock since joining PrüstelGP in 2019? 

SS: It´s a difficult question. I have 3 in mind: 1) Qatar 2021 when we reached our first points with Dupasquier and Yamanaka after a difficult 2020. 2) Valencia 2021 when we almost reached the podium with Filip Salac, it was very emotional and, of course, 3) the pole position and podium with Carlos Tatay in Mandalika. It was meaningful for him and for us, both coming from a very difficult 2021 season, and it was incredible to reach this result for CFMOTO at only our second race with the constructor. It made us feel very proud.

PS: What is a typical race weekend like for you? 

SS: I always say when I am at the racetrack I am much more relaxed than at home. I have to admit the biggest part of my job is at home, before the race weekend. Preparing the travel and accommodation for the whole team (15 people), respecting all the restrictions and limitations due to COVID-19… it´s a big challenge! I also have to allocate guest passes in the best way to satisfy everybody and attend all the requested of sponsors and partners. I usually fly on Tuesday but we enter the track on Wednesday. First thing I do is preparing the office inside the trailer, cleaning and setting it up for the weekend. Since it´s the place where we have meetings. Then I start to print the schedule and prepare the passes for the guests. Thursday is usually media day, so the riders are requested to attend interviews or events organized by Dorna. As we don´t have a press officer on site, I am responsible making sure the riders take part in all the media events. Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most interesting days for sure! During the sessions, I am always in the box, providing content for social media to our marketing team or helping the riders in case they need anything. Qualifying for me is always the most stressful moment of the weekend, while I am more relaxed during the race! After the race, when I get home, I need to take care of administration and invoicing and replies to the emails I couldn´t do during the race weekend.

PS: When coming back from a GP, what would you like to do to unwind?

SS: First thing I do is trying to relax a bit, when possible I always try to have a day off in order to recharge batteries. But unfortunately it´s not always possible.

PS: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience working with CFMOTO since the inception of the project last year? 

SS: We have had a very busy winter. Almost no days off between the end of last season and the start of this one. But I guess the results are paying off all the hard work! We had a great collaboration with the Chinese staff, and we can´t wait to have them with us at the racetrack. Also Chinese fans are showing an incredible excitement and we appreciate very much their passion. I really hope to visit China soon!

PS: Any advice for young people who would like to work in motorsport?

SS: My best advice is to learn as many languages as possible. For me was for sure the skill that allowed me to be here. And of course never give up. After many no, there can always be a yes!

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