Moto GP: Fabio Quartararo, a champion with Mediterranean accents

For more than twenty years, the GP world championship, the premier motorcycle category, has been an affair that has been played out beyond the Alps or the Pyrenees. Between them, Italy and Spain have monopolized 18 out of 20 titles, leaving a few crumbs for the only comparable motorcycling country, the United States. As if, to put the laurel wreath on your helmet, you had to be Italian or Spanish. Or a bit of both, like the brand new champion, Frenchman Fabio Quartararo.

Born in Nice to parents of Sicilian origin

Sacred Sunday, October 24, the young Niçois, whose parents have Italian origins, made his debut and competed in one of his first races on the other side of the Alps. “I am French, but I speak Spanish better… and I think in Italian”, he explained in 2019 to the daily transalpine La Repubblica.

A sign of a fate that seems determined to smile on him, he also won his first title in Italy, during the farewell race of the Italian Valentino Rossi, his childhood idol, seven times world champion in the years 2000, which he succeeded to the handlebars of the Yamaha team.

Expatriate in Spain at age 13

But if he was crowned on an Italian circuit after a fantastic comeback, It was for Spain that Fabio Quartararo left the French Riviera at a very young age. He moved there at the age of 13, after having traveled extensively with his father, to participate in weekend races. His father Étienne, locksmith and champion of France 125 cm3, and his mother, Martine, hairdresser, had noticed the qualities of little Fabio very early on. And agreed to the financial sacrifices of round trips of more than 1,000 km between Nice and Catalonia.

The country of Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Joan Mir (the last three world champions, all Spanish) is in fact the scene of mechanical jousting every weekend, which makes it the world’s leading two-wheeler. Moreover, the national championship takes place, with regard to the Motorcycling Federation, of the junior world championship. In 2013, the young Quartararo became Spain’s youngest champion at 14, renewing the performance the following year. Gaining in passing a nickname, “el diablo”, which is a compliment on the circuits.

Because his diabolical piloting is coupled with a more than sporty temperament, which for years has earned him the praise of a Spanish press which has been careful about the off-piste behavior of its rubber matadors. Quoted on Sunday October 24 on Eurosport, the motorcycle journalist of the Spanish daily Mundo Deportivo did not skimp on compliments: “He grew up as a pilot in Spain and he speaks perfect Castilian, he is almost one of us”, she recalled, before continuing:He’s a well-behaved boy, a very friendly person. He’s got a personality, he’s relaxed and funny. It has a very Mediterranean character and it pleases. “

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Great praise to the country of Marc Marquez, the Iberian pilot with six titles, so popular that he saw almost the entire paddock parade at his bedside when he was a victim, for the first time in 2019, then again briefly this season , Loges syndrome – a kind of tendonitis making the right hand, the one that holds the gas handle, and the forearm hard as a stone.

The Federation no longer wants an exodus

Track bike France has been waiting for a world champion for decades. Because if the French have always shone on two wheels in all terrain, cross, trial or rally-raid, they have never managed to win on the circuits. The only two drivers who seemed able to reach the world title, Patrick Pons and Michel Rougerie, were killed in the race in the 1980s.

As a result, the track sector no longer had very good press in France. The sponsors have turned away from a costly and dangerous discipline, and the Motorcycling Federation has let its best elements slip away, like Fabio Quartararo in Spain, or before him Johann Zarco in Italy. A development plan was put in place this month at the Federation to try to reverse the trend. With, to plead the cause of motorcycle racing in France, a new 22-year-old ambassador.


A title won with panache

The art and the way. The coronation of Fabio Quartararo at the end of the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna on Sunday 24 October came at the end of a fantastic comeback. Party 15e on the starting line after a missed practice session on Saturday 23, the Niçois took all the risks to get into the head of the peloton as quickly as possible. This strategy caused the fault of Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia, his main opponent in the title race. The fall of the latter and the fourth place of the French put an end to the suspense for the world crown, with two grand prizes at the end of the season.


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