Silva Linings Playbook: ART Performance’s Team Of Brothers

The Brothers Silva: Enjoying life in the MotoAmerica Series. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Three brothers who share a mutual love of motorcycle road racing. Sound familiar? But these three brothers were born just a little bit further south of Owensboro, Kentucky–in São Paolo, Brazil, to be exact.

The Silva brothers now live in Miami, Florida, after the family relocated to the U.S. in 2008 and their father started an exporting company in America. Bruno, 33; Fernando, 26; and Lucas, 18, all race in MotoAmerica with Bruno campaigning a Kawasaki ZX-10R in the Motul Superbike class while Fernando and Luca compete in MotoAmerica Supersport aboard identically prepared Yamaha YZF-R6 machines. All three brothers are members of ART Performance, the Silva’s own privateer racing team.

We talked with the Silva brothers as they were preparing for MotoAmerica’s next round, at New Jersey Motorsports Park next weekend, and we uncovered the motorcycling passion that is deeply seated in this band of brothers.

Bruno, you’re originally from Brazil?

Bruno: Yes, we’re from São Paolo, Brazil. Our family moved here in 2008.

When you were in Brazil, did you ride and race motorcycles there? How did you get started in the sport?

Bruno: I rode motorcycles in Brazil, but I had a couple of crashes on the street. I also had a crash on the street in Miami back in 2008. I totaled the bike, and I made a promise that I would never ride a bike again. But, after our parents moved to the U.S., I have a friend here who was selling a trackday bike. So I bought the bike and I also did a school and got a license to race in CCS (Championship Cup Series). So I had the license for the CCS and I started racing.

So you came to this country, still had the passion for motorcycles, and picked it up again from doing trackdays?

Bruno: Yes, exactly. After I got my racing license, my first race ever was in 2009 here in Miami. I also did one AMA Pro race in 2012 at Homestead. We live 15 miles from Homestead.

Lucas raced at COTA, Barber and New Jersey last year. Me and Fernando, this is our first year in MotoAmerica.

Bruno, tell us about your Kawasaki Superbike. Have you been racing it for a while?

I did the first CCS race of the year in February, but I have had this bike since last year. It’s pretty much the same bike I raced in CCS, but for me in particular, it’s a big challenge because every single track I go to this year is a brand-new track for me. So, there’s a little bit of pressure because in MotoAmerica Superbike, the very first session of the weekend is the qualifying already. But I’m very, very happy because, so far, we have qualified for every single race. I’ve had only two DNF’s this year. For me just the opportunity to be racing with guys that I admire so much, all those Superbike riders, it’s just amazing.

That’s a cool thing that you get to rub elbows with those riders, even literally sometimes. Tell us about ART Performance, the team for which you race.

Bruno: ART Performance is a motorcycle shop that Fernando runs. He does all the performance stuff like motors, and he builds our bikes. Fernando and our other mechanic, they are the ones who basically develop our bikes.

What does “ART” stand for?

Bruno: It’s Alphalog Racing Team, which is a reference to our dad’s company because he’s always supported us. We decided to name the shop after his company, Alphalog.

What is Alphalog?

Bruno: Alphalog is an export company. Our dad exports products into South America.

Fernando and Lucas, how did you get involved in racing?

Fernando: Lucas and I started out racing go-karts, but we were kind of disappointed with the way that race would go with the go-karts. We watched Bruno racing motorcycles, and that got our attention. Honestly, once you race on a motorcycle, it’s something that’s really difficult to explain. The adrenaline you have is nothing compared to any other sport.

When you’re in a car or a go-kart, you can’t lean when you turn. It’s such a weird feeling, right?

Fernando: Yeah. After you race a motorcycle, there’s no going back to four wheels.

Lucas, do you work at ART Performance, too?

Lucas: No, I actually just graduated from high school. Now I’m working at Alfa Log with my dad.

Since you and Fernando race against each other in MotoAmerica Supersport, how identically prepared are your two R6’s? Are they the same? Fernando, could you jump on Lucas’s bike and go just as fast? Lucas, could you jump on Fernando’s bike and do the same?

Fernando: The bikes themselves are identical. The setups that we have, we change a little bit.

Would you say that the riding styles of you three brothers are pretty similar to each other?

Fernando: No, we are all very different. Really different.

Tell us about that.

Fernando: Lucas is the smoothest. He’s really smooth through his lines, turning the bike. He does everything fast, but he’s very smooth. I’m very technical, so everywhere I go I look at the technical part of the things and how to turn the bike and everything. Bruno is the least technical and most aggressive.

Bruno, there are “corner-speed” riders and there are “point-and-shoot” riders. Which of those two are you?

Bruno: Point and shoot.

How did you do adapting to the new 200/60 Dunlop rear tire? Did you adapt to it well, or was it a struggle?

Bruno: I struggled. The Kawasaki is not the easiest bike to make it spin and slide, for sure. With the modifications we had to do on the bike to make the bike fit the tire, it is not very easy. The Kawasaki is a little bit heavier. The bike doesn’t like to be on the side of the tire for a while. We had to make a lot to changes to the electronics and to the bike’s geometry. That’s one more thing that is not as easy for me this year because new tracks, new bike settings, and qualifying sessions on the very first laps. But, I think this year we’re looking more for me to qualify, get the pace for the races because one thing in Superbike is that we race, on average, about 20 to 22 laps. We have two races, and the rhythm is very fast for the Superbike. I used to do CCS and club racing, and all the sprint races are six laps and nine laps. You had time to breathe. On the Superbike, in the professional category, it’s harder. You have to be in better physical condition. You have to understand better the motorcycle, the tire wear. That’s something that I’m getting used to this year, knowing the tracks.

Is your Kawasaki a true Superbike? Does it have the bigger forks? What are you running for an ECU?

My Kawasaki is pretty much a stock bike, even the stock wheels and stock brakes. The motor is what they allow in superbike, but that’s pretty much that’s it. Next year, for sure, I’ll have a better-equipped bike.

Fernando and Lucas, you both have current-spec, current-generation Yamaha R6’s. Is that correct?

Fernando: Yes.

Did you ever ride the previous R6?

Fernando: Yeah, that’s what we rode pretty much our whole 600 career, and only this year is when we switched to the new one.

Do you like the new R6 better than the previous version?

Fernando: The bike is very similar, but at the same time, it’s not. It took us quite a while to get a good feeling with the bike and to adapt to it. But I feel like now that we have adapted to it and we’re comfortable with the bike, it feels like a much better bike. I like it a lot more.

Last year, Dunlop switched from using a Superbike rear tire on the Supersport bikes to a tire that Dunlop actually makes specifically for that bike. Did you go through that transition?

Fernando: Lucas raced last year, and he raced in Superstock 600, so he experienced that change in rear tires. I didn’t go through much of a transition because I started out this year. So I was able to adapt to it very quickly. It’s a much better tire. From the get-go, it was a whole lot better.

Bruno, what are your aspirations? What are you looking to do in the next couple of years? Get your bike up to full Superbike spec, as you said, but what are your personal goals in motorcycle road racing?

Bruno: I want to be more competitive next year, for sure. I think part of it is depending on me to be in more shape to race the Superbike, and also to upgrade the bike. Now that I know the tracks, I don’t have the pressure anymore to get out on a new track and qualify for the races. I think for the next year it will be not easier, because it’s not easy, but it will be smoother.

Also, I really want to keep having fun with Fernando and Lucas, because for us it’s very nice to go there as a family. We drive everywhere. Already this year, we’ve driven almost 26,000 miles. So the traveling is already a pleasure. We can have some family time and we can combine the family time and race time. That’s, for sure, something that I want to keep going.

So, you three brothers are pretty close, then?

Bruno: Yes. We’re very close.

Fernando, what do you want to do in the future? What are your plans as you advance in racing?

Fernando: I want to keep racing in Supersport. I think that next year also will be better for me. Learning the tracks is always a little bit more challenging. From my two brothers, I knew since the beginning that that would be something that would cost me a little bit in this first year. So I’m just looking to be more competitive for next year. Like Bruno said, the first year is a lot more challenging because you’re learning the tracks. Everything’s new. So, for the second year, we should be a lot more prepared. Racing for us is something we love to do, so it’s something we’re trying to keep doing for a long time.

Lucas, what are your aspirations? Similar to Fernando’s and Bruno’s?

Lucas: Yeah, I want to keep on racing for as long as I can. For the next couple of rounds, I’ve raced at those tracks before, so that will be a really good comparison of how I can do on a track that I already know and how competitive I can be. But this year has been very tough because none of the tracks are easy. They’re all topnotch tracks. It was very tough to go out there and then, from the very first practice, you’re trying to learn the track. You’re trying to be fast. You’re trying to see what you can improve on the bike–gearing, suspension, everything. Sometimes you can get way in over your head, but it’s always fun.

MotoAmerica, ever since it started, I would watch it on TV. It’s a pleasureful moment that you’re watching all these guys, and now I’m racing with them. It’s always a pleasure. The family time that we have, it’s beyond words can describe. It’s something that we all love to do.

Bruno, what’s your favorite track on the MotoAmerica schedule?

Bruno: I went to Barber on the Dunlop tires. I like the track, but for me there are many tracks. Road America. It’s hard to say a favorite one. I like Utah, too, but I think the best track for me is Laguna Seca. I like Laguna’s layout.

Fernando, what is your favorite track?

Fernando: I like Laguna Seca, as well, I think because it was always a dream to be there. We would always play the track in the video games and see the races that we had there. The track itself is really pretty, and it’s really challenging. It’s really fun. You have good racing there.

Lucas, what’s your favorite track?

Lucas: I would have to also say, Laguna Seca, also. I think it’s mainly because it was also my best finish this year. I was able to get a top-ten finish there. So that made me very happy. I also love the track. It’s a track that I was able to adapt to very well. I would also have to say Pittsburgh and Barber. Those are tracks that are incredible to ride. Not just the tracks, but also the venues. It’s very nice to be there.

There is a little bit of age difference between you three brothers, but you are all really close. You talked about your riding styles being quite different. Does that translate into personalities? Are each of you a little different in some way?

Bruno: I’m kind of the clown. I think we are all different. Lucas is the more serious one. Fernando is pretty much in the middle. We are all different. We have fun together.

Does your family come to the races?

Bruno: My dad is a big supporter. He goes with us to every single race. He shares the drive. He is a big supporter. Something that I really like about him is he doesn’t get into the middle of the bike setup. He lets us be at the track. He doesn’t put pressure on us. He just wants us to go there, and have fun. He’s all about staying happy at the track. My mother, she went to one race because we have a little sister. We have another brother, too, but he doesn’t race. He is 30.

He’s between you and Fernando in age, then?

Bruno: Yes. He did a couple of CCS rounds, but he has a motorcycle that he rides on the street. He mostly leaves the racing to us.

So, there are four brothers and a sister. Five kids, is that right?

Bruno: Yes.

Do you have relatives still back in Brazil?

Bruno: Yes, we do.

Do you get back there very often?

Bruno: I go there about once or twice a year. Lucas, last time he went to Brazil was in 2010.

We love it when three brothers race and get along so well. You’re like the Brazilian Hayden brothers. Has anybody ever told you that?

Fernando: No, but I wish I could make MotoGP!

Some day, Fernando. Ride safe, fellas, and good luck in New Jersey.