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The Man Building the First African Motorsports Team – MFT

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Written by Gabriel Ajala

ASU speaks to: Ludovic Peze

 

Hi Ludovic, so please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I’m both French and Mauritian I’m 26 and I was born in Monaco where I studied, I live in France.

MFT Founder, Ludovic Peze with 4 time F1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton

What lead you to the thought of MFT and how did it start?

The idea came from a simple thought: Why people like me, from a modest family, can’t access the top of motorsport. Even more so why people of colour, often don’t have the opportunity to climb the ladder and become professional in motorsports, in roles such as mechanics; team manager; engineering and as a driver?

Was it always your dream to start a motor racing team?

Since I was child. My father was a mechanic and I used to go watch racing cars of all types including. In my teenage years, my father’s friend allowed me to go on his F3 car and that is the moment everything changed. For 3 years after that, I was part of security and general admission of F1 in Monaco. However, my biggest motivation was when I suffered meningitis and was in a coma, with no guarantee of survival. After one year of recovery I decided to live and fight for what I want, and I created MFT in 2014. For our first track race, I used my savings to pay for a F4 test at Dijon Prenois when we broke the lap and top speed record of the category. We continue further with prototypes but also slalom and drift in Mauritius where now we’re several times champions including 2017. We also raced in VdeV in Formula Renault (similar to F1) and made 3 top 10 finishes, including a top 5.

Thats excellent to hear your motivation and progress as a team so far. What stage are you at with MFT and what are you hoping to achieve?

Well, I am pleased to say that I have just reached a partnership agreement with McLaren, where they will support and guide us to produce the best performance of the GT4 car. As such, now my full focus is on trying to find the funds in order to secure our partnership and participation for future races. I have also reached an agreement with Jaguar Racing to participate in the Formula E opening race IPace e-Trophy with sustainable and 0% emission sports cars.

For those that don’t know, could you explain GT and the difference between that and Formula 1 and Formula E for example?

Formula 1 and Formula E are single seater with lot of downforce due to front wing and rear wing. GT and in our case GT4 cars are based on most of the time Grand Turismo Cars like Ferrari, Porsche Cayman, Mclaren 570s, Maserati GT, BMW M4, Audi R8, Mercedes AMGTR. So, they look similar to normal sports cars and performance are similar, but the car is made for races so we’ve a different setup of engine/gearbox, specific tires, specific suspensions and brakes, carbon parts and lightweight compared to the normal version.

Ludovic Peze with former Sauber F1 and current Mercedes F1 Junior driver, Pascal Wehrlein

You mentioned an ambition to compete in the VDEV. Could you explain more about it and what would be needed for you to do so?

The VdeV is a European Championship that mixes amateur, semi-pro and pro drivers in different categories like sprint and endurance prototypes, endurance GT and prototypes, single seaters and also Historic racing. One would need between €35K to €150K in order to participate.

It seems as though you need alot of money to form your own motorsports team and compete. How much do you think these high costs play as a barrier to entry? And especially for those of African descent?

Yes, it’s look expensive. I think this is a barrier that would deter 98% of people from a modest background, such as myself. Occasionally, practice days are affordable to race in a semi-professional championship, but to enter into a professional championship you need to either be rich, search for sponsors or hire a funded driver (which is becoming more common). People use to think that motorsports was too expensive, but in comparison to football, it actually costs 10 – 20 times less to own a team in motorsports, with the exception of F1.

To develop and have a chance to succeed you need to work a lot, make contacts, show your motivation, bring new ideas or new ways to put in front of potential sponsors. When you’re starting it’s hard to have the confidence of big companies but I think social networks and media could help. Each time you go on the track with your team you need to do it the best as you can to prove that you’re professional and going in a good way then people start to be more interested in what you are doing.

I also believe that the government and entrepreneurs should be better informed on motorsports and its possibilities because there is a lot to gain.

Although you are based in France, what links do you have to Africa?

I am Mauritian and I often travel back there on a regular basis to visit family, friends and for business opportunities. Many of my friends and family still live in Africa and my family have a strong mix of the Creole & African culture. Also, MFT acts as a gateway to spread a positive image of Africa and its diaspora internationally. The goal in the long term is to have an MFT Academy in several countries to educate people on road safety, race driving and produce some professional drivers or at least good civil drivers. I also plan to introduce MFT on e-sports and sim-racing to give an opportunity to African talents to sim-race, in order to compete at a high level and in international competitions. As I want to MFT be a real international racing team in the future we want to form our own engineers and mechanics team, with 50 – 60% made up of people from Africa.

Your dream sounds great. But Why do you think there’s a lack of Africans in motorsports?

Firstly, I think some countries are too focused on other sports despite them having a fan base for motorsports. Secondly, there are no academies or karting tacks, which is the basis of the racing circuit. I would like to form a team of politicians and entrepreneurs to join me and develop such grassroots in the motorsports world. Similar to the football academies in Africa, if in the next decade we could have 4-5 MFT Academies in Africa, we will have a professional team run by Africans and a world champion coming from the continent.

 

Jaguar IPace e-race Car

If people want to contact you, how can they get in touch?

People could contact us through Facebook @MotorsFormulaTeam; Instagram @MFTracing or simply by mail at v6mauritius@gmail.com. Our website is www.motorsformulateam.com

I would like also to thank everybody that support me all around the world.

About the author

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Gabriel Ajala

Gabriel Ajala is the Founder of Africa Sports Unified. With experience working as a legal prefessional in London, he also has a masters in Sports Management and The Buisness of Football.

Gabriel has played Internations fooball, representing England as an England School boy. He has a passion for sports development within Africa and has previously worked with a few athletes including Rio 2016 bronze medallist.

He also sits on the board of Planet Sports Football Africa, a weekly radio show focusing on the African sports market.

LinkedIn: Gabriel Ajala

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