International Road Race Legend from Yesteryear: Hans Spaan

The international road racing legend of yesteryear, where has he gone, what is he up to now, and how does he view today's road racing sport? In this section, we ask these former heroes a series of (the same) questions. This week: Hans Spaan.

Hans Spaan in 1990

Who is Hans Spaan?

Name : Hans Spaan
Nickname : 'Rainy Man'
Born on : 24-12-1958
Nationality : Dutch
Residence : Castricum
Start of road racing career : 1975
Active in : 50cc, 80cc, and 125cc
Number of titles : 9 titles and 9 Grand Prix victories
End of road racing career : 1994
Current profession : Owner of a tuning company

How did you first get involved in road racing?

I started motocross when I was thirteen. Two years later, at fifteen, a road racer stopped by our village. They asked me to test his road racer once. I did, and I immediately found it very enjoyable. However, I was still too young to compete, but once I turned sixteen, I immediately started with the NMB.

Which rider did you have the best battles with on the track?

There are two, two names that come to mind. The battles with Doriano Romboni – sadly deceased too early – and Loris Capirossi were really fantastic back then.

Best motorcycle you've ridden and why?

That would be the Honda 125cc production racer from 1989. It was a standard motorcycle at the time, equipped with a kit. We heavily modified this bike ourselves, but it was undoubtedly the finest racer I've ridden.

What is your favorite circuit you've raced on and why?

That would undoubtedly be the TT Circuit Assen. Not the current Assen but the old layout, the 'old' and long track.

What is the strangest or most hilarious experience you've had in racing?

That was a race at Spa-Francorchamps. I was battling for the win with Loris Capirossi in that race. We were flagged off, but I was 100% sure we still had one more lap to go. I kept going full throttle, Capirossi initially didn't understand but quickly caught on. We fought again for the win in the final lap, and I managed to clinch it in my favor. I won, and afterwards, there was one person who might have been even happier than me, and that was the man with the checkered flag. He was really pleased that we had resolved his mistake between ourselves in this way.

Do you have a special memory of racing in the Netherlands?

CMSNL is based in the Netherlands

Yes, the TT Assen was always very special, especially in the early years when I started. Especially because back then we only had about 10 races per season, and Assen was something I always looked forward to. In my early years, when we still raced with homemade equipment, I would always go home on Friday evening to spend the rest of the night working on the bike in Castricum. Everything to squeeze out that extra bit. Then on Saturday morning, we'd quickly head back to Assen for the race. It wasn't until 1988, the year we first raced with production equipment, that I stayed the whole weekend in Assen. Something like that is unthinkable now, but they were great experiences at the time. Assen is and remains very special.

The best thing you've gained from racing

Beautiful memories from that time, I wouldn't have missed them for anything.

What did you do after your active road racing career?

Right after my own active career, I started as a technician at the Molenaar Racing Grand Prix Team. I worked in the Grand Prix world for many years and achieved many successes here with some well-known riders – including 12 Grand Prix victories and 2 world titles. But as I said, I'm a technician, and because of this, I lost a bit of interest in the sport. In the past, as a technician, you could contribute to the sport, but nowadays everything is standardized, and that's just not my thing. Besides, I have my own tuning company where I mainly focus on preparing custom-built engine blocks, especially for karting.

Axel Pons and Hans Spaan in 2017

Are you still involved in the sport in any way?

Not for a number of years now, I'm now fully engaged in my own tuning company. So, heavily involved in technology again, but no longer in road racing, mostly in karting and motocross.

Which current or past motorcycle would you like to ride?

Honestly, given my age, I have no desire to ride a motorcycle anymore. I know myself, and I'm not 55 kg anymore, so I leave the motorcycling to the youth.

For which current rider do you have a lot of respect and why?

Well, every rider deserves respect. But if I have to name one specifically, I choose Fabio Quartararo. Fabio is a guy who has always been fast in every class and everywhere. I have a lot of respect for that, and his becoming MotoGP world champion doesn't surprise me. A great talent who hasn't always had it easy and certainly doesn't have it easy at the moment, but has come a long way.

Who do you see as the greatest (currently active) road racing talent and why?

I haven't been closely following in recent years, but if I had to name one, I'd choose Collin Veijer. Truly a talent, with a good mentality who has continued to develop over the past few years. A hard worker who doesn't shout from the rooftops but is doing very well. We've seen him do some great things last year, and if you win in your debut season as a Grand Prix rider, you're cut from the right racing wood. If he can keep this up, we'll definitely hear a lot more from him, and he could go very far.

Who will be the 2024 MotoGP & WorldSBK world champions?

In the MotoGP class, I think Jorge Martin has a very good chance. In the WorldSBK, I used to think it would be another Ducati, but now I think Toprak Razgatlioglu has a very good chance. Until recently, everyone was screaming that the BMW couldn't keep up and was a bike that no one could compete with at the front. We've seen what Razgatlioglu can do with it now. It wouldn't even surprise me if he proves the opposite and becomes world champion in 2024 on the BMW M 1000 RR.

With your experience, how do you view the current developments within international road racing?

As I said earlier, I'm a technician, that's where my heart lies. But for a technician like me, the sport is becoming less and less because everything is becoming more standardized. In recent years in the sport, I worked in the Moto2 class of the MotoGP world championship, where everything is pretty much standardized, and that's clearly not my thing. I find that really and sincerely very unfortunate.

Hans Spaan (3) on his way to victory during the Dutch TT of 1989
Hans Spaan (3) on his way to victory during the Dutch TT of 1989

issued: Thursday, April 11, 2024
updated: Thursday, April 11, 2024

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