MotoGP™ riders appear to win alone, but each one has an entire team and even a manufacturer behind him. Experienced mechanics and engineers, often double the rider’s age, give him the best possible motorcycle and help him feel at ease. This support is often the secret weapon behind many champions, especially when they are very young.
Petronas Yamaha SRTrun by Johan Stigefelt has struck gold with Fabio Quartararo. The Malaysian team bet on the 20-year-old Frenchman, a rising star who seemed to have lost his way since making a difficult debut in Moto3 at just 15 years of age and a complicated switch to Moto2. Quartararo needed direction to capitalise on his incredible natural talent.
“We started from the basics,” crew chief Diego Gubellini states, “explaining to him every single action we were doing on the bike and proceeding step by step so that he could start to understand and feel the set-up changes and become more and more sensitive to the bike. Fabio impressed me with his approach.
“He always tries to adapt to the bike and not the other way around. If lap times are not coming, he asks, ‘What can I do to improve?’ It’s a winning attitude that belongs to the champions. Secondly, he is a racing animal. He is very lucid throughout the race. I realized it from the precision he explains afterward in the briefings.”
The breakthrough arrived in Spain when—at 20 years and 14 days—Quartararo became the youngest-ever premier-class rider to claim pole position, a record that formerly belonged to seven-time world champion Marc Márquez. Quartararo has since earned two more poles as well as podium race finishes at Catalunya and Assen. Surely, this is a sign of future successes.