MotoGP: 2022 rookie profile – Fabio Di Giannantonio

Fabio Di Giannantonio joins MotoGP and causes headaches for journalists everywhere.

The man with the longest name joins MotoGP and no doubt will cause issues for journalists this year as they struggle to spell his name, he’s been widely touted as being a dark horse going into the 2022 MotoGP season with the newly formed Gresini Ducati squad who have severed ties with Aprilia in pursuit of their own racing programme.

‘Diggia’ has he is commonly known has been fortunate enough to compete with the Gresini squad in every class of the world championship from Moto3 through to MotoGP with a 2 year break at Speed Up.

He made his debut with the team at Valencia in 2015 before signing and starting his full-time Grand Prix career in 2016. This career would get off to an odd start struggling to score points in the opening five rounds of the season before rocking up at Mugello and taking his first points with a podium finish. He had a lot of experience on Italian tracks after competing in the CIV Italian Moto3 series however to take his first points with a podium on home soil was something very special indeed.

From hereon in 2016 he finished within the points for every race he finished and picked up three more podiums to finish the season in an astonishing P6 overall as a rookie, missing the rookie of the year title by just 10 points to Joan Mir in P5 overall, this year was a statement of intent and showed that he had more talent and speed than originally expected of him. He would be picked up by Red Bull for 2017 who have continued to support him to the present day.

First points, first podium, Mugello 2016.

2017 proved to be a continuation of the strong season Diggia had in 2016 as he finished in P5 overall with 5 podiums to his name, however 2018 was the year when everything really stepped up a notch. Diggia would place himself in contention for the world championship battling against teammate Jorge Martin, he took home 2 race wins and 6 podiums eventually finishing as the runner up in the class with a certain title fight on the way in 2019 in the eyes of the Gresini Team, well that’s what they thought anyway.

Diggia had signed a four year deal with the team to compete in Moto3 until the end of 2019, however after a strong season in the lightweight class he wanted to graduate up to Moto2 with the Gresini squad who had agreed to honour this contract but in Moto2. The issue is that Diggia only wanted a one year deal but Gresini wanted to offer the Italian rider a two-year deal, he was offered the deal with a deadline of four days to sign the contract, he declined the deal and the team hired Sam Lowes instead.

The issue was that his contract for Moto3 in 2019 still stood, the ordeal ended up in court with Gresini wanting him to race for them in 2019 in Moto3 as per their contract and Diggia wanting to race elsewhere. Eventually, this would be settled and Diggia would be free to move to Moto2 for 2019 as a free agent, eventually signing with Speed Up for 2019 and 2020 on their own chassis instead of the more competitive Kalex that Gresini were offering. Source.

’21’ on the red Speed Up.

As a Moto2 rookie in 2019 on machinery that wasn’t as competitive as its Kalex counterpart, Diggia would do incredibly well coming home in an impressive P9 overall that included two podiums in the class and his only ever pole position, he had adapted incredibly quickly and only finished outside of the points once in all races that he finished, he looked to be a strong competitor for 2020. Sadly 2020 didn’t go as expected and although he picked up two podiums, he also finished out of the points on many occasions and crashed out of P1 in races such as Aragon, he needed a Kalex to ensure that he could fight at the front of the grid, that’s where Gresini came back in.

It was a reunion of old times, for 2021 Diggia re-signed with the Gresini squad with a MotoGP promotion for the 2022 season provided the results clauses were met within his contract. Sadly in the weeks leading up to the opening round at Qatar the team would be hit with the terrible news that the team owner and manager Fausto Gresini had succumbed to COVID-19, this disrupted their entire programme as he was the man orchestrating the circus and running all three teams in MotoGP/2/3 and their Junior team in the CIV, Diggia had a strong relationship with Fausto and this affected him a lot.

Jerez 2021, Diggia’s solo Moto2 victory which he dedicated to Fausto Gresini.

So, when he was able to take a podium in Qatar on his Gresini return it was an incredibly emotional moment, the podium was dedicated to Fausto and Diggia went on to have a strong season with four podiums to his name even taking his first victory in Jerez, he had done enough and would be reunited with his 2016 teammate Enea Bastianini in MotoGP for 2022 aboard a Ducati, incredibly fitting given he uses the number 21 after being inspired by Ducati legend Troy Bayliss.

Now, although he’s never won a world championship and hasn’t broke into the top 5 overall in Moto2, he’s been touted by many as a dark horse for 2022 on the Gresini Ducati, already in testing he has impressed in pre-season testing finishing only 0.855 seconds from P1 at Mandalika, yes this places him in P21 overall but shows how fast he has adapted already. If history can repeat itself then there’s no doubt he will be battling at the front in no time at all.

Featured images – Gresini RacingĀ  (Alex Farinelli)