Franco Morbidelli was born in Rome on 4thDecember 1994. He is an Italian rider who won the titles of European Superstock 600 Champion in 2013 and Moto2 World Champion in 2017. His career started very early in the family-run garage in Rome, in the San Giovanni district, where his father Livio used to spend his days with mufflers and pistons. His passion for engines made him get on track when he was still very young: just consider that he got on a motorcycle for the first time when he was just a 9-month-old baby.
His life had a major breakthrough when his family moved to Tavullia. At that time, his father Livio had limited resources, and for this reason he was afraid of not being able to give him the chance to become the great professional rider that Franco deserved to be. For this purpose, Livio decided to sell his house and garage in Rome to move to Tavullia, together with his wife Cristina and his young son Franco.
This is how the first important steps for Franco’s professional career took place, so much so that in 2006, when he was only 12 years old, he had the opportunity to sign a contract with the Pramac D’Antin MotoGP Team. Leading it is also Paolo Campinoti and Luis D’Antin himself. The primary objective is to allow him to grow professionally, up to the victory podium. A project that, however, does not bring the desired results, so much so that the Morbidelli family is unable to earn anything in economic terms, although they try to go in the direction of professional growth. He thus passes through the Cuna de Campeones of Valencia where he wins an important milestone to gain access to the CEV. A step that, however, requires quite large amounts of money which, unfortunately, the father Livio cannot find. For this reason, when Franco is 14, he doesn’t have the opportunity to race for 10 months, until he gets back on the saddle in 2011 where he made his debut in the European Superstock 600 championship, running four races aboard a Yamaha YZF-R6 of the team Forwards Racing Jr.
In 2012 he takes a sixth place in the same category. In 2013 the Italian Federation allows him to compete in the Stock 600 with the Italian Team, driving a Kawasaki, and winning the European title (European Champion). In the same season, Fausto Gresini allows him to race in the Moto2 World Championship in San Marino, Japan and Valencia riding the Suter MMX2 of the Gresini Racing team.
In 2014 he becomes regular rider in the Italtrans Racing team, where he was assigned a Kalex Moto2; his teammate is Julián Simón. Franco wins his first championship points in Argentina, he takes a fifth place in the Aragona Championship and completes his season at the 11th place with 75 points.
During 2015 he remains in the same team, and has Mika Kallio as his teammate. In this year he achieves his first podium in the World Championship in Indianapolis by taking the 3rd place. In this same season, during a training session, he got a tib-fib fracture at his right leg, which forced him to miss the British, San Marino, Aragona and Japan Grand Prix. He finished the year at the 10th place with 90 points.
In 2016 he goes with the Marc VDS Racing team, and has Álex Márquez. Morbidelli gets 3 third places (Dutch GP, Aragona and Japan) and as many second places (Austria, British GP, Australia), missing the chance to win the World Championshp at Philip Island, when he got a second place with a gap of only 10 thousandths of seconds after Thomas Lüthi.
In the last two races of the season, in Malaysia and Valencia, he finishes second and third respectively.
In the second half of the season, that started off in Austria, had him winning more points than any other rider but, due to an unfortunate previous half, he has to settle for a 4th place and 213 point.
On the following year, with the same team and teammate of 2016, Morbidelli opens the season with his first pole position and his first win in Moto2 in Qatar.
He also wins the following GP in Argentina and Austin, which qualified him as the first rider to win the first 3 competitions of the season in the intermediate class from 2001 (when Daijirō Katō won the first 4 competitions in what was then the 250cc category). Morbidelli achieved the 4th victory of the season at the fifth event of the year, in France. After racing two unexciting GP in Italy and Catalunya, he gets back on the first place in the Dutch GP and in the following GP in Germany and Austria. After taking a 8th place in the wild competition of Brno, he returns to the podium in Aragona. In Australia and Malaysia he comes third. Few hours before the start of Malaysia GP, his direct rival Luthi, is forced to forfeit due to an injury; having previously gained 29 points, Morbidelli mathematically becomes Moto2 World Champion ahead of the last competition. He is the first Italian rider who won in Moto2, bringing back to Italy a world title – 8 years after Valentino Rossi’s victory in 2009 and 9 years after Marco Simoncelli won the world title of the intermediate category in Sepang, in 2008. He takes the second place in Valencia, and ended the season with 308 world points. The year 2018 marks his debut in the elite level of motorcycle racing, while remaining In the Marc VDS Racing team. He rides for the first time a MotoGP in the post-season tests of November 2017 in Valencia. His teammate is Thomas Lüthi. His best result achieved is an 8th place he takes in Australia, and he completes the season at the 15th place with 50 points, which makes him the best rookie. In this season, he has to skip the Dutch and Germany GP due to the fracture of the third metacarpal of his left hand that he got during free practice at the Dutch GP. In 2019 he joins the SIC Racing team riding a Yamaha YZR-M1. His teammate is Fabio Quartararo.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
«My parents brought me on a minibike when I was just a 9 month-old baby. They were somewhat crazy».
«I still see clearly before my mind the vision of me riding on a track near my home in Rome. I was 4, we used to go there every weekend: I also remember the first time I touched my knee to the ground».
«No, I can’t. But I remember crearly my first fell from a 125cc motorcycle: I slipped, no big deal. I was still in primary school».
«My feet weren’t touching the ground already, when I arrived in the Box they used to grab me. I know that it may sound weird, but it’s true».
«Every rider is afraid; we all know the hazards of the job and all the bad things that may happen. Still, when I go on my bike everything disappears, all of my insecurities as well.».
«Well, I do. I’d be a liar if I said no and in that case I couldn’t be a good rider on track – where the real nature of a person is revealed. We have to accept ourselves for what we are, if we want to turn our weakness into strength».
«I was telling him about this just a couple of nights ago: I was 4 and we were at a racing event in Misano, he was called X-Race. Then I met him again at his Ranch when I was 13 years old and I started training with him».
«I’m very fond of that moment when, last year, we celebrated our victories together in the Assen, Dutch GP, in his motorhome».
«I’ve been thinking about opening a mojito bar on the beach for years. Who knows? Maybe one day I will make this dream come true. I still have time».
No need to hurry. You still have a career in MotoGP to fulfill.
“I was at primary school and I was riding the grown-up motorcycles, a 125 cc. But everything stopped suddenly when I was 15. I was about to compete in the Spanish championship, but there were no money. I stopped for 10 months. It was in that moment when I realized all the sacrifices my parents were doing, but talent and hard work are not enough sometimes. We went to a cheaper category, the Stock 600, and my father got me a couple of sponsorships for 2 seasons”.
“Training with Valentino is the greatest of all opportunity to me: I learn more by spending 10 minutes with him than during thousands competitions. It’s like a young child playing football with Messi. Not only, there are lots other things you learn by his side: to value freedom, and enjoy all the few simple moments that you can get in a champion’s life. Like having pizza with your true friends at 1AM, in a restaurant with half-closed shutters, where no one asks for your autograph, a cap or a pic”.