Alfonso Pons Ezquerra (Barcelona, 63 years old), known to all as Sito Pons, has spent his entire life in the motorcycle world championship. In 2024, the former pilot turned mentor of great talents from the Spanish youth academy will leave a difficult place to replace in the competition. Pons Racing, the structure that served as a catapult to the next generation of champions, will disappear after the sale of the team and its place in the World Cup to MT Helmets MSi, owned by Madrid businessman Teo Martín.
“I think now is the time to close this very successful period that we have enjoyed as a team. Since my days as a driver, there have been 42 years in the Championship, and when we did the project we knew that we wanted to be a leading team”, explains Pons. His two world championship titles in the intermediate displacement in 1988 and 1989 represented a before and after on the national scene. Two severe crashes took the driver off the road in 1991, and his decision then was to change the garage for the offices and hand over his structure and sponsorships to Álex Crivillé in 1992. we de Seva, the first Spanish world champion in the premier class in 1999, was his first protégé and began his stage as master of great national champions.
Then all the others arrived. From Alberto Puig to Augusto Fernández, including Carlos Checa, Héctor Barbera, the Espargaró brothers, Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins, many of the big Spanish names in the event spent their formative years under Pons’ tutelage: “I am proud to have contributed to the development of the sports careers of all these riders, and that some of them are still the protagonists in MotoGP today. Pons Racing’s commitment has always been to support Spanish riders and serve as a launching pad for MotoGP”.
In addition to the national quarry, other two-wheel heavyweights passed through his school. The 2021 MotoGP world champion, Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, was with the team for one season in Moto2. They were also before Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi, Max Biaggi, Troy Bayliss and Tohru Ukawa, among others. Of the current MotoGP grid, six members put down roots on the asphalt with him.
Pons Racing’s extensive track record includes five world titles for drivers and three for teams. The structure amassed 71 victories and 230 podiums in its various stages within the World Cup. Between 1992 and 2006, the Pons was a reference in 500cc and MotoGP. His departure from the premier class left him without a place on the grid for three years, until in 2009 he began his current project in Moto2. Pons became interested in motorcycles and competition because of a neighbor. By today’s standards, he started late. At the age of 18, he took his first steps in speed and the following year won the Streaker Cup for Taulé, a historic Barcelona workshop.
That first success brought him together with Manolo Burillo and Antonio Cobas, who put together their first steps and mounts in high competition. In 1981, he debuted in the 250cc World Championship and in 1984 he achieved his first victory in the Spanish GP. In total he won 15 races and was on the podium 41 times before going to the other side of the world. When his performance plummeted due to the aftermath of his serious accidents, Pons had the vision to bet it all on the next generation. “I wanted to find an alternative, a Spanish pilot who could take advantage of all the resources invested, a substitute to do the job that I could no longer do,” he recalled in a conversation with EL PAÍS last year, 30 years after the first victory. de Criville in 500cc.
Already then, Pons recognized the difficulty of World Cup finance in recent years. The expilot had been after a place as a satellite team in the premier class for many years, but it did not come due to the refusal of Dorna, the promoter of the event, to open more places on the grid. Since the move to pay television and with the recent format changes, the teams in the small categories live in a constant crisis to gain visibility and attract the sponsors that keep the complementary structures alive to the main course that is MotoGP.
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