He is not even eighteen years old and until today he had never managed to take a point in the World Championship. At Mugello his dream came true when he finished on the podium. Fabio Di Giannantonio is from Rome, where he had to give up his studies at Scientific Studies High School, “Before the Qatar race, they told me that if I was absent one more time they would fail me”, and he races for team Gresini.
Fabio, what are you feeling?
“I don’t know what to say. I still can’t believe it: during the victory lap I even cried. This is a dream come true. I’ve been thinking about it since I was a child.”
When did you start riding?
“It’s a bit of a strange story. My father has always been a big fan. But when I was small, he was moving the bike with me in his arms. It was sliding and he revved the gas to recover it. That noise frightened me a lot and I never wanted to see a bike again.”
“Slowly but surely, he took me to ride minibikes when I was 5. I started to take a lap, then another and finally I began to race.”
Rome is not exactly the land of motorbikes …
“In fact, I think I will move to Romagna soon. Before Mugello I was at my crew chief, Fabrizio Cecchini’s house, and he treated me like a son. I was able to train both in the gym and on the flat track. That was very helpful.”
Is there a rider who inspires you?
“Last year in the Rookies Cup I used the number 21 because when I was small I cheered for Troy Bayliss. I had the chance to meet him and he is a really nice person. He is still very down to earth.”
And a bit mad too…
“To ride motorbikes you can’t be too normal (he laughs).”
You got your first podium. What is the next goal?
“I don’t know what to expect. I want to become a professional. Mugello is a track that I like and I know it well, whereas I have never ridden at Barcelona. I don’t know if everything will be easier or harder from now on.”
Have you thought about who you would like to dedicate this first podium to?
“Definitely to my family, to Fausto Gresini and the entire team, but especially to Cecchini.”
The ‘azzura’ celebration, despite lacking the win, was completed by Francesco Bagnaia. Usually the Piedmontese rier gets a new tattoo every time he is on the podium, but the list is getting longer “and I still need to think of the previous ones. Enough for now” he jokes.
Pecco, are you satisfied?
“A podium in Italy is something fantastic and last year I just barely missed it.”
It’s the third 3rd place of the year, does that annoy you a bit?
“And the fourth of my career, but I’m pleased. Here at Mugello you never know what will happen. One lap you’re first and the next you’re 8th. The win wasn’t far off, but in the last lap Quartararo and I kind of got in one another’s way and Binder managed to take advantage.”
Has Mahindra solved its problems?
“Partly. Now from fifth gear on I’m able to stay with the best in terms of top speed. However, we’re still losing a lot in acceleration. The KTM is faster in that area.”