Finding his balance
At the tender age of four years old, when most young boys haven’t yet learnt to ride a bicycle, French-born Fabio Quartararo was already gearing up for his motorcycling career.
Spending just a few of his childhood years in hometown Nice, Quartararo moved to Spain with eyes on the Promovelocidad Cup. He won the series for young riders three times: at just nine years old in 2008 on a 50cc bike, in the 70cc class two years later, and again in 2011 with an 80cc engine.
The youngster was proving he was one to watch, confirmed more so by winning the Mediterranean pre-Moto3 class in 2012, aged thirteen.
Revving the engine
In the second CEV Moto3 season using Moto3 bikes, many records were broken. Not only did the first female rider, Maria Herrera win a race, but her competitor Quartararo became the youngest series champion at 14 years and 218 days old – an accolade previously held by Aleix Espargaró. In addition, the young Frenchman also became the first non-Spanish rider to take the title since Stefan Bradl, six years prior.
In this 2013 CEV Repsol championship, Quartararo rode a Honda with Wild Wolf Racing, a team run by former Grand Prix racer Juan Borja. He beat KTM rider Marcos Ramírez by a single point, and remained in the series for another year since he wasn’t old enough to graduate to World Championship level. This time, he competed for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 junior team.
In an incredible season, Quartararo successfully defended his title by winning nine out of the eleven races. In the 2014 French GP support race at Le Mans, he led nearly the entire nine laps and won by almost four seconds. His performances secured a ride in Moto3 for 2015, since the FIM announced a change to the rules on a minimum age limit and allowed him to participate.
A pause to refuel
In 2015, Quartararo was announced as a rider in the Moto3 World Championship with Estrella Galicia 0,0, on the same bike he earned his previous silverware with. He proved to be an exciting prospect for the series, when he set the fastest time during the first day of official pre-season tests at Valencia.
At the following three-day test at Jerez, Quartararo was quickest in five of nine sessions, with a clean sweep on the final day. He achieved his first podium finish in Austin with a second-place finish, and again in Assen. His first pole positions were claimed at the Spanish GP by a tenth of a second and later, on home soil at the French GP.
But a crash during a free practise session at Misano resulted in a fractured right ankle and two missed races. On his return to racing, Quartararo pulled out of both the Japanese GP after qualifying 29th on the grid, and the Australian GP due to continued pain.
His following 2016 Moto3 season with Leopard Racing Team has been described as equally disastrous, despite him being the title favourite for the season. Quartararo finished thirteenth place in his first three races, crashed in his fourth and went pointless in six.
Two seasons in Moto2 followed his two disappointing, stepping-stone years in Moto3, in which Quartararo openly admits he tried to follow Marc Marquez’s tyre tracks rather than learn the bike. With Pons Racing and Speed Up Racing team, Quartararo got a feel for bigger bikes and more mature racing. He achieved his first ever Grand Prix victory in Catalunya and was announced as a MotoGP rider for the all new Yamaha satellite team, Petronas Yamaha SRT, in August 2018.
The new recruit began rewriting the record books once more in the premier class. At the Spanish GP, he became the youngest ever polesitter in the MotoGP class, a record previously held by Marc Márquez. To cement this milestone, Quartararo qualified on pole position in Barcelona and the following race in Assen, where he set a new lap record and became the youngest rider with consecutive pole positions in MotoGP history.
He took his first ever premier class podium at the Catalan GP, coming second place to Marquez. And fans were in for more excitement to follow as they watched rookie versus reigning champion in another three races. The San Marino GP came down to the wire for the pair, and in Japan and Thailand, Quartararo duelled Marquez once again with last lap lunges.
In what many would consider a dream debut year in the premier class for the flying Frenchman, Quartararo was awarded 2019 Rookie of the Year at the Japanese GP, with three races remaining. He finished the 2019 season in fifth overall, with seven podiums and six pole positions to his name.
Like most, we’re excited to see what the future has in store for the number 20, who really is carving out a name for himself.