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Monster athletes compete in Race 1 Sunday at the 2017 Le Mans MotoGP stop

The tools and the talent: Franco Morbidelli talks ‘delivery’

Jun 212017

There is slightly more weight on Franco Morbidelli’s shoulders. The 22 year old is increasingly in demand: chased by fans, media and interested parties as much as the rabid competitors of MotoGP’s Moto2 class of which he currently leads. Despite the closing walls of success Franco still comes across a cool guy, and his demeanour of a laidback master of all he surveys is the same as when he thrust himself towards the forefront of the racing world’s curiosity with 8 podium finishes from the last 11 rounds in 2016; the finale at Valencia secured his status as the authentic ‘one to watch’ which was also the last time we spoke.

What were the details in the transformation from being a podium guy to a serial winner?

Not so many and it is not such a big deal: it is more about small improvements. I think the last step was jumping on the new bike and we improved it so I feel really comfortable. I [also] had one more year full experience with the team and that was the key point right there for the good start to the championship. I just feel great when I win! [laughs]. To win a world championship race is simply amazing…and winning three in a row is even better. To have four already is a dream. I am living a dream and I don't want to wake up.

The target on your back is getting pretty big…

I know moments like that cannot last forever. Nobody wins forever. Not even Valentino, Marquez and the best riders in the world. I know that difficult times will come but I also know that I work well with my team and we are ready to fight when moments get hard. I had those times last year and two years ago so I kinda know what we need [in order] to face those moments. I’ve been winning…but I will never get used to it and I’m prepared to fight when I have to.

Bouncing back from moments like the crash in Jerez to succeed in Le Mans must be a new experience…

Yes, winning was good but in a strange way crashing in Jerez gave me more strength than those victories in the first three rounds. It gave me more motivation because I wanted to come back again and luckily it turned out well in the next race. I wasn't sure about that one actually [Le Mans] – I just wanted to finish with a good result and look towards a victory in the future but luckily we worked really well in testing, during the weekend and so for the race we were really strong.

Has life changed a little bit with success?

Yeah, of course. More interviews, more people that recognise you on the street. There is not a huge difference but it is noticeable. I have the luck to also to stay close to Vale who is not able to live a normal life. He cannot walk by the seaside. If I do it then just a couple of people stop and ask me for a photo or an autograph. I’m lucky and I can enjoy it.

Speaking of Vale and the academy, has the dynamic changed a little bit? Are you more of the ‘top dog’ in the group?

Not that I’ve noticed. I try to be the fairest and nicest person that I can. Everyday I try to be better as a professional as well, and all the other guys from the academy are doing the same. I don't see any jealousy or resentment.

But there still must be a bit of an ‘order’ if you are the guy doing the job and setting an example…

So, I’m doing quite good at the moment…but when I’m at the gym and I think ‘I am doing well…’ and ‘I am a good rider’ I only have to look across and see Valentino Rossi! Here is a guy with nine championships and he is not floating above the ground. He walks the same as us and is a normal person. So I look at him and I say to myself ‘I’ve done nothing…I have to keep on working and prove myself’.

With the talk of MotoGP, new contract and new opportunities will racing become even more of a job?

At the moment I don't think life is that hard for me! I’m quite sincere and I mean what I say when I am living the dream and loving racing. This is all that matters to me at the moment. I am young and able to focus just on motorcycles. I know there are many other aspects to life and it is important to care about them also. My ‘normal’ life is going well and without many problems. I have a beautiful girlfriend who is an angel for me and when I go home I feel great. I also feel great when I go to races and my sporting life is going positively. Of course there are stressful moments and busy times like doing five interviews in a day, photoshoots and going from here-to-there all the time…but these are not big problems in life!

Is the fact that everything is good at home something important to you? Some people can clearly divide the parts of their lives…

Maybe you don't realise it and I don't think it is completely true that you can come into the paddock and totally switch off and just focus on the races. I don't think you can totally ‘turn off the light’ and become just a rider from Friday to Sunday and then a normal person again afterwards and deal with any problems if you have them.

Lastly is the enjoyment on the bike also different now? It seems like you can do anything on that motorcycle…

Sometimes it feels like that and it can look like I can ride it with my mind and not my muscles. It means we are in good shape and we have adapted the new bike to my riding style. My crew have worked really well and understood completely what I needed from the bike. Last year we were struggling a bit more and I had to adapt more towards the bike. This season it is the opposite and the bike is following my ‘idea’. Sometimes I still struggle and it will be in these moments where we’ll be able to see if I am a really good rider or not and whether I can still keep the level and the pace.