Focus on the Moto2 Points Leader Franco Morbidelli, a Talent Trained at Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy

Honda wants him in MotoGP

franco morbidelli moto2 race action
Franco MorbidelliMarc VDS Team

Franco Morbidelli is changing the history of Moto2. No one before him has won the first three races of a GP season and he did this in so superb and confident a manner that he is becoming the number 1 title contender.

Born 22 years ago in Rome, to a Brazilian mother and Italian father, Franco Morbidelli moved to Tavullia as a child to breathe Valentino Rossi's air. His international debut was thanks to the Italian Motorcycle Federation as he won the European title in 2013 with Team Italia. This gave him three wild card entries with the Gresini Racing squad, followed by his first full season in Moto2 in 2014. His first podium came at Indianapolis in 2015, and 2016 brought an incredible run of podium finishes, ending the year just outside the top three. The last missing element—a win—came at Qatar last March after 53 GP races. Since then he's been nearly unstoppable.

Student of the VR46 Academy, then rider of the Marc VDS Team, Morbidelli now leads the Moto2 championship. Thanks to starting this season with three wins and two pole positions, he is among the top names in the rider market. Honda has watched him closely since the end of last season, making him a possible candidate for a Honda MotoGP satellite ride. Lucio Cecchinello's Honda/LCR team is an option, but more likely he will remain with his current team, Marc VDS., which is very close to Honda and already fields Jack Miller, who has a contract directly with Honda HRC.

Heading to Jerez, the question is clear: Will Franco “Morbido” Morbidelli be able to add a 4th win to his series of success?

Calm and relaxed as usual, but extremely focused, Franco Morbidelli is enjoying this exceptional moment.

franco morbidelli celebrates victory at cota
Victorious at Circuit of The AmericasMarc VDS Team

What does this triple success mean?
"It's very important for me, the team, and for the championship. In Austin I battled also with Marquez and Pasini, but, in a way, the third victory was not so different from the first two. I tried to build a gap and I made it. In Texas I think I rode even better than in Argentina, but believe me, no victory is easy."

Did you expect such a fabulous start of the season?
"In Qatar I set the pole and won the first race in my life—it was a dream come true. Two weeks later I repeated in Argentina and finally in Texas I felt even stronger. The season couldn't have started better."

How have you changed compared to last year? Do you feel more confident?
"I have grown up but I still have my fears. The difference is that I have learned how to handle them. As every rider, I'm still asking myself if I will be fast, if I can make it, how I can solve this or that problem."

How badly were you longing for victory before the Qatar GP?
"In all these years I was never obsessed by this idea. The fact that the winning was not coming was not a burden. I knew that it would have to be a result of my good work and we made it. We worked well in the winter and in the practices. In Qatar I was happy and relaxed. It was not an overwhelming joy."

franco morbidelli cota moto2 race action
Franco Morbidelli, Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS, Circuit of The Americas 2017Marc VDS Team

Do you feel the pressure?
"I don't feel pressure for the moment. On the contrary, I have an extra motivation to do well."

Now the MotoGP circus is heading to Europe and to Jerez, a circuit different from Qatar, Argentina, or Texas.
"I'm curious to see what will happen but I'm calm. We tested at Jerez in winter so I expect that there will be several riders who can be strong on this track. This winter I was fast too, so I'm determined and motivated to keep the momentum.

Looking back, what are the turning points of your career?
"Winning the European title with the Team Italia opened the door for me in Moto2, as the same year I did three wild cards with Gresini. Another key moment of my career was the unexpected call from the Marc VDS Team. It arrived straight after a disastrous race at Sachsenring. It represented a great boost of motivation."

What does it mean to be part of the VR46 Academy?
"It makes me feel more responsible. If a rider like Valentino believes in me, it means that he has seen something in me that I didn't know. Since when I understood this, I always try to take out of me something that can surprise me."

How is working at the Ranch with Rossi?
"It's crucial. Valentino is the strongest rider ever. I learned a lot from him, from his advice but also from simply watching how he moves, how he rides. Just think of a kid who plays football and trains every day with Messi! I know Vale since I was 13. At the beginning I was emotional, and then I started to divide the rider from the friend. I learn a lot from him as a person."

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How do you see your rivalry with your teammate Alex Marquez?
"Alex is fast and this is good, it represents an extra motivation. We are a reference to each other and I think this pushes us to do better and better every Sunday."

Do 3 consecutive wins make you the favorite for the title?
"The level in Moto2 is still very high, even if four top riders (Rins, Zarco, Folger, and Sam Lowes) moved up this year to MotoGP. It's too early to speak. I think we need to see the first half of the season and especially now that the MotoGP circus moves to the European tracks that are very different from the first three of this season. So let's wait..."

Is MotoGP your target?
"It's too early. I'm curious to see how it goes this season. I have never battled for a world title before."

You are a mix of Italian and Brazilian blood. What do you take from these two cultures?
"Belonging to two cultures is a richness. I have had the opportunity to learn many things. From my mother I took the "going with flow" Brazilian attitude; I'm calm and relaxed. The Italian side taught me to be serious at work and with the people I love."

Who is Franco Morbidelli?
"First of all I'm a free person. My name "Franco" actually means free man and it suits me well. I'm an authentic person. A relaxed and quiet guy. I don't like chains or obligations."