A CLEAR PATH
Pierre Gillion is the new director of the Mettet circuit. Portrait of a true enthusiast.
A neatly trimmed beard. The athletic look. At 36 years old Pierre Gillion is about to take over the management of the Mettet circuit. An almost logical step even if the origin of his passion for motor sports still eludes him. “Frankly, I don’t know where it comes from”, admits the Namurian. “Neither my father nor my mother are fans of motorised vehicles, and especially not of motorbikes with a father who is an insurance agent…, but my mother bought a Dax from Freddy Tacheny’s father in Mettet, she always kept it, and when I was eleven years old I put it back on the road to ride in the garden.
The virus was there and once the licence was in his pocket, the little Japanese machine became Pierre Gillion’s means of transport who started to ride in trials, in enduro and who also bought himself a Quad. With a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a diploma in Automotive Management, Gillion entered the world of two-wheelers fully. “I was lucky to find a job at D’Ieteren Sport – Yamaha Belgium”, says the new manager. “I was the sales representative for Wallonia, Brussels and Luxembourg, where I had as clients all the dealers for motorbikes, quads, scooters and golf carts as well as parts and accessories. A job that kept him busy for eleven years before he became involved in the management of the Junior Black Knights Team, the Belgian Motorcycle Academy’s national junior team, which competes in the Northern Talent Cup, the bridge between national speed competitions and the international level towards MotoGP.
With Baltus on every circuit in the world
The results are good. In 2020 Freddy Tacheny, CEO of Zelos Home of Sports, founder of the academy and also of the Mettet circuit, offers to Pierre Gillion to join the management company full time. The man hesitated, until D’Ieteren stopped importing Yamaha a few months later. “From there I took the plunge and joined Zelos where I became Motorcycle Manager. I was in charge of everything related to motorbikes at Zelos: the academy, riders such as Xavier Siméon, Barry Baltus and now Lorenz Luciano who will race in the Red Bull Rookies Cup and in FIM JuniorGP in 2022, but also the search for sponsors and the business circle that supports the Black Knights riders.”
The Zelos riders being part of the Namurian’s remit, Pierre Gillion finds himself travelling to all the Moto2 World Championship circuits to accompany Barry Baltus. An exciting, fascinating and extremely varied job. “There is the management of the team around Barry, his physical trainer, his mental trainer, but also the contacts with the team and the sponsors. As Barry is only 17 years old, there is a lot for him to manage. From confirming plane tickets to printing a new sponsor’s sticker to give to the team.
The circuit has not finished “turning”.
Philippe Dujardin, director of the circuit since its creation, having decided to take a step back, the eyes naturally turned to the motorbike manager, who was frankly enthusiastic. “I’m arriving in a very healthy environment. Philippe Dujardin has set up an efficient structure and Mettet is a circuit that runs very well. The 2022 calendar is already well filled up,” confides the new director, who is very attentive to the training centre dimension of the Jules Tacheny circuit. “Of course there are the Funcup, 2CV, Rallycross, Supermoto races and our flagship event, the Superbiker, with, as the icing on the cake, the Supermoto of Nations in 2022. But these are not our main activities”, specifies Pierre Gillion. “Our strength is the four configurations of the circuit and all the possible types of training. Whether it’s for riders from the academy or amateurs, more or less enlightened. We do a lot of trackdays, on two and four wheels, with each time a learning dimension adapted to the level of the riders. And this ranges from simple amateurs to federal police motorcyclists.
If the circuit is “running”, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do. Between the management of the schedules, the events, the rescue services, the marshals, the cleaning service, the training sessions and the adaptation/maintenance of the track, the seven people who work full time on the Namurian track are very busy. And Pierre Gillion brings with him some ideas for development. A second track will be built in 2022. This track will be multi-purpose and can therefore be used for different activities. It will be a great tool for our young academics of the Belgian Motorcycle Academy and our Zelos/Classic21 riders to help them get to the top of the motorbike world.
The young Namurian has other ideas, but he will tell us more later.
He has not finished “taking turns” on the Mettet circuit.