Matteo is smiling as we interview him. And he has good reason. He's played a starring role in this season's CIV SBK championship, fighting for the title up until the final Vallelunga rounds against his friend/rival Michele Pirro. A year of podiums, and two race wins, at Imola and Mugello. He rounds out the year in second place overall, perhaps a little disappointed but definitely pleased about what has been and what will be. Matteo's future lies with MotoE, the new category for electric bikes which will debut on the world championship calendar next season; he will ride the Energica of Fausto Gresini's team. A new adventure, a new world for Matteo who, at 21, is able to return to a world championship category, after having competed in Moto3 from 2013 to 2015.
There is satisfaction in his eyes, with regard to 2018, and curiosity as to what 2019 will bring.
"The goal I set myself this year was to grow. A positive season, definitely; I was fighting for the title all the way to the last race. I definitely had fun".
And next year... MotoE!
"Gresini made me a proposal but at first I was a little hesitant. A brand new bike, a new category full of unknowns. But coming into a structure like Team Gresini, a world class team, convinced me. It will be a good opportunity for me to get back on a world stage".
Will you still compete in CIV?
"That's the plan. With Michele Pirro we're working to compete in both championship and I'd like to stay with team Barni in the Italian series. It's important to do at least two years with the same team in order to grow. The calendar for the electric bikes will involve about 5 races so it might be possible though in case of a clash, my priority is MotoE".
He's your rival on track but also your manager - how is your relationship with Pirro?
"The great thing is that we always share information. For example, this year, in free practice at Mugello, we pulled each other round to check we had the right ratios. Then in the race we fight, of course, each of us wants to win, but we always share everything, even training. He never leaves anything to chance, he studies everything, and this has taught me to do the same. Then on track it's every rider for himself".
When will you get on the new bike?
"At the end of the season, after the final MotoGP race, we'll have a test at Jerez together with the Moto2 bikes".
Are you curious to ride it, how do you think it will be?
"I honestly don't know how it will be to ride an electric bike, because it's a new world. I've heard things about how it might be, but until I get on it I don't know what to expect. But I'm very curious to find out".
A return to the world championship, where you've competed in the past. Is this a starting or finishing point?
"It's a great trampoline for the future. Returning to the world championship is never easy. in this new category, I'll have a real opportunity to prove my worth".