MotoGP: Franco Morbidelli’s rise to the top
Franco Morbidelli has won his first-ever MotoGP class race, lets take a look at how he got here.
Franco Morbidelli has been a face within the MotoGP paddock for some time now, the Brazilian/Italian rider born in Rome to an Italian father and Brazilian mother is a calm and collected rider, never too crazy on or off track and incredibly humble, well respected by many including riders such as Jorge Lorenzo. Morbidelli is not one to step out of line either and his gracious and respectful in defeat.
Morbidelli caught many people’s eyes this weekend with his special helmet design, Morbidelli’s ‘Spike Lee – Do the Right Thing’ design had ‘equality’ written on the back in many languages as a nod to say that we are all the same, speaking on the design Morbidelli said, “When I decided to make the special helmet for this event, I wanted to deal with a big matter and a big topic, which is racism. But I wanted to also hug the whole 2020 year, because this 2020 started in a really bad way and many, many not likeable things happened in the world in 2020.”
Franco is the first rider in the paddock to make a statement regarding equality this season following on from protests and people pushing for equality, gaining major amounts of respect from within the paddock as well as outside. Morbidelli hugged the 2020 year and it hugged him back, giving him his first MotoGP win.
Franco first appeared in Moto2 in 2013 doing wildcards, he was racing full time in the STK600 championship and finished the season as the champion of this class, opening the door to a full-time Moto2 ride with the Italtrans Racing Team, he would race for the team in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, scoring a best result of P5 in his debut season along with 8 x top 10 finishes. In 2015 Morbidelli missed 4 races due to injury but this didn’t stop a fantastic season, again scoring 8 x top 10 finishes and his first podium at Indianapolis on the stunning blue Italtrans machine.
Franco Morbidelli 2015
For the 2016 and 2017 seasons, it was announced that Franco Morbidelli would ride for the hugely successful Marc VDS team, a team which has fed multiple champions to the MotoGP class, in 2016 Morbidelli would truly find his form, taking a total of 8 podiums with 11 x top 5 finishes, an incredibly consistent season which saw him finish in 4th in the standings, but had not taken his first race win.
Morbidelli did not have to wait too long for this win, nor would he have to wait long for his second or third win, Morbidelli started 2017 in style, winning the first three races before a DNF at Jerez, winning again the race after in Le Mans, winning 4 out of 5 races, Morbidelli was a clear title favourite. The season would be hugely dominant by Franco Morbidelli who by this time was a VR46 Riders Academy rider, the Italian won 8 races in 2017 with 12 podiums, beating Thomas Luthi to the title by 65 points. Morbidelli was the 2017 Moto2 world champion after an incredible display.
Franco Morbidelli, 2017 Moto2 World Champion
It was announced for 2018 that Morbidelli and Thomas Luthi would step up to Moto2 with the Marc VDS team, a team which was not famous in MotoGP for being competitive the same way it is in Moto2, the team had a race win, but aside from this there was not too much to shout about.
Morbidelli endured a tough but incredibly competitive rookie MotoGP season, scoring points in 13 races out of a possible 16 races he entered with a best result of eighth place, these results earned the Italian a spot in the newly formed Petronas SRT MotoGP team for 2019, a team which was replacing the Tech3 team which moved to KTM machinery. This new team had many strong names such as Wilco Zeelenberg working for it and promised to be a great opportunity, this is correct.
Teammate Fabio Quartararo shone in his rookie season for the team, taking a multitude of podiums for the team with Franco living in his shadow, however, Franco also had a great season, surpassing expectations taking 10th overall in the standings with 11 top 10 finishes and a best result of 5th which he scored 4 times. Morbidelli would kick start 2020 with another fifth place.
2020 has been an incredible season for Morbidelli, the rider took his maiden podium at Brno this season and has been a dark horse throughout, eventually taking his first MotoGP win at Misano in style, leading every single lap of the race, staying as humble as ever after the race saying “I am only a satellite rider,” despite winning a MotoGP race.
Morbidelli has had an incredible rise into MotoGP and a race win was always written on the cards for Morbidelli, lets see if he can score some more.
Featured image – www.motogp.com