Franco Morbidelli's happiness is contagious. He smiles, the his curly hair falls on his shoulders, “I can stay here all day too: ask me any questions you like”.
His win at Valencia is an unparalleled success. "I was really impressed with this race, but now we can tell ourselves: we did it, we won the race. Unfortunately we lost the championship, but we did a great job ”.
Memorable: everything. The tension, the final corners, the battle with Miller.
"It was a tough race, congratulations to Jack, I tried to push all the time. I'm so happy, it was an incredible win. I gave it my all for the whole race. And then I had to dig deeper to pull out a little more on the last lap. Jack was there, he was always there, he could have caught me towards the end. So I had to find that bit extra. Luckily I did too and luckily I had enough tyres to fight. And it was a great last lap ”.
The choices paid off, Morbidelli rode brilliantly. But the credit obviously goes to everyone, including the team.
“I chose the hard front because I didn't think the medium would last. I adapted my riding, I lost the front several times but I was able to manage it. The team also did a great job. I was able to finish in front of him. It's always good to fight Jack. I enjoyed the fight. Congratulations to him, he was as good as me ”.
Now that Mir has won the world championship, it is also time for Morbidelli to take stock. “We need to see how things go in 2021. But 2020 has been fantastic. It was nice to be able to be at the top in MotoGP too, to fight for the win. I'm enjoying the moment and then we'll see what we can demonstrate next year, if the other manufacturers make a step… But let's enjoy the moment. I think today was my best MotoGP race”.
He can also add three MotoGP wins this year into the mix...
"They were three great victories. Winning in MotoGP is a great thing, I didn't expect it to be so good. Misano was the home GP, I started in front, I set a good pace, I was very fast and I expected to be able to win. I was on good form at Aragon, but I didn't expect it: I got an amazing victory. This one in Valencia is a victory I wanted, maybe I didn't have the same potential as the others but I wanted to win".
And where does the inspiration come from? Morbidelli is sure, it comes from afar. Can it come from Ayrton Senna?
“I love Senna, he is one of my greatest idols. It's normal, he was Brazilian, very attached to Brazil; when I was born my mother put a poster of Ayrton on my bed, I have always taken it with me, in all the houses where I have been, he was always with me, I see Ayrton when I go to bed and when I wake up. I wasn't lucky enough to see him race but I have seen a lot of documentaries, interviews. I like what he said, his way of approaching racing, his personality. I have always used him as a guiding light to follow, for sure. Comparing me to him is a bit too much, because he is a legend, a great champion, and I am not. But for sure I am very inspired by him ”
Then in the interview with SKY TV immediately after the race, Morbidelli is still excited, stoked, full of adrenaline…
“It was amazing. I knew Jack would be right behind me. And then I said to myself: OK, I'll try to do everything to win. It was wonderful to duel with him, I don't know how many times we overtook each other. The pace we kept was incredible. In the fight, the hard tyre in front gave me a little bit more. With Miller we managed to pass each other once, twice. I don't even remember how many times. If the hard made me lose a bit of pure speed it gave it back to me in the fight against Jack."
Morbidelli said that it was "a dogfight"; two mastiffs, him and Miller, who kicked each other’s ass.
“It was a very tough race because I tried to push hard, from start to finish to get away. I didn't want to fight Jack, because I know it's always a tough battle with him. I didn't want to put myself in that condition. But he was so good, he got there, he passed me, then it was a dogfight. I did it in the end. I've never pushed so hard in a race. I did it from the first to the last lap ".
Morbidelli knows he is the fastest Yamaha, "even though at the beginning of the year I was a bit angry that they had given me the bike from the year before".
It was a decision that Morbidelli managed with intelligence and courage…
"We channelled our anger in the right way, at home, at work, and we managed to make this bike, which is not bad at all, work well on many tracks. The key was the immense knowledge of Forcada, my crew chief. This was the key. I feel good being the best Yamaha ”.