Fabio Quartararo, born in Nice on 20th April 1999, realised his passion for motorcycle racing at the tender age of four in his native France. He soon moved to Spain to develop his career – with success. He competed in the national championship in the 50cc, 70cc, and 80cc categories between 2008 and 2011, before winning the Pre-Moto3 national title in 2012.
In 2013, at the age of fourteen, Quartararo made his Moto3 debut in the FIM CEV series, and after a difficult start to the season he won the final three races to become the youngest ever champion. The Frenchman defended the title in style in 2014 with podium finishes in every race and nine victories from eleven races.
The previous rule against participating in the Moto3 World Championship until the age of 16 had been repealed for Quartararo, so for 2015 – aged just 15 – he joined Jorge Navarro in the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda team. Impressing from the start, Quartararo was on the podium in just his second race. He repeated this feat in Assen after claiming pole at both Jerez and Le Mans, but unfortunately a late-season ankle injury halted his progress. He still ended his rookie year in tenth place and took thirteenth place in 2016 with the Leopard Racing team.
For 2017 Quartararo moved up to Moto2 with Paginas Amarillas HP40, but it proved to be a difficult year for him, finishing the season in thirteenth place again. However, his impressive pace throughout his intermediate class debut allowed him to move to the Speed Up Racing team for his sophomore season.
It was in 2018 that he made big strides in the Moto2 championship and beyond. He took his first intermediate class pole and GP win at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. He followed it up with a second place at the TT Circuit Assen and ultimately took a top-ten finish in the final standings. In August 2018, it was also announced that Quartararo would join Franco Morbidelli at the newly created Yamaha satellite team, Petronas Yamaha SRT, in 2019. A big challenge – but the Frenchman was ready for it.
What followed in 2019 was nothing short of remarkable. ‘El Diablo’ took an incredible seven podiums and six pole positions. He also wrapped up the season as Rookie of the Year, winner of the Independent Riders’ Championship, and fifth in the overall World Championship.
Still missing his elusive debut win in the premier class, that became his key target for 2020. Despite the calendar changes due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, he didn’t have to wait long. Quartararo dominated in Jerez in July, opening his campaign with a double win. In Catalunya he scored his third win, but he struggled to put up the same performance at the end of the season. However, over a total of 14 GPs he secured nine front-row starts, four of which were pole positions. It’s clear the French prodigy has the speed, so now he will be aiming for consistency to secure his first championship win.
In 2021, Quartararo fulfils his dream of becoming a factory rider in MotoGP. He follows into the footsteps of his idol Valentino Rossi by joining Maverick Viñales in the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP garage.
Viñales was born in Figueres, Spain, on 12th January 1995. He began racing in minimotos at just three years of age before moving on to motocross. In 2002 his passion for speed brought him to circuit racing. He competed in the Catalonian 50cc Championship and followed it up with several successful seasons in the 70cc ‘metrakit’ bikes.
Viñales got hold of the Catalonian 125cc Championship Title in 2007, he successfully defended his crown in 2008, and won the Mediterranean Trophy that same year.
In 2009, he moved up to the CEV Buckler 125GP series, partnering with Miguel Oliveira in the Blusens-BQR team. Viñales secured the Rookie of the Year award, finishing as the runner-up to Alberto Moncayo in the championship standings by just four points and claiming four successive podiums during that season.
In 2010, Viñales and Oliveira joined different Blusens teams and battled it out for the CEV Buckler 125GP Championship Title. Despite winning two races to Oliveira’s four, Viñales won the title by two points, thanks to finishing on the podium at all seven races of the season. The European Championship Title was also decided between the two riders, and again it was Viñales who came out on top.
The Spaniard moved to the FIM 125cc World Championship for the 2011 season with the SuperMartXé VIP team. He impressed during pre-season testing at Valencia and finished ninth on his Grand Prix debut in Qatar. At Le Mans, Viñales took his first front-row start in third place and went on to seal his first victory by 0.048s at the age of 16 years, 123 days. This incredible performance made him the third-youngest rider to win a GP, behind Scott Redding and Marco Melandri. Securing three further victories that same year, Viñales finished his first Grand Prix season in third place in the championship rankings and claimed the Rookie of the Year award.
The youngster went into the 2012 season as the title favourite in the newly formed Moto3 championship. He won five races on the Blusens Avintia FTR Honda early on in the season, but a lack in consistency, some misfortunes, and a dispute with his team resulted in a missed race in Malaysia, which allowed Sandro Cortese to win the title and Luis Salom to snatch second in the final standings, with Viñales taking third overall.
The next year, the young gun moved to Team Calvo alongside Ana Carrasco. He won his first two races back-to-back at the Spanish and French Grands Prix and kept his competitive form throughout the season, fighting at the front of the field. Viñales, Álex Rins, and Salom went into the final round with a gap of five points across them all. The championship was decided in Valencia by a battle between Rins and Viñales. In the end, Viñales took the race victory and the Moto3 World Championship Title by a twelve-point margin.
The Moto3 World Champion then signed a Moto2 contract with Pons Racing, joining former title rival Salom. Viñales didn’t have to wait long for his first intermediate class victory, which came at the Circuit of the Americas on 13th April 2014. He ultimately finished the season in third place with four wins and nine podiums, earning himself another Rookie of the Year award.
In September 2014, it was announced that Viñales would move up to the premier class for the 2015 season, riding for the factory Suzuki team. Despite being a rookie and riding for a factory that was returning to MotoGP, he had a very good season. Scoring points in 16 out of 18 races in a competitive field and under challenging circumstances, the young contender proved to be a notable rider. He finished the season in 12th place, winning again the Rookie of the Year award, thus completing his collection (125cc, Moto2, and MotoGP).
In 2016 Viñales shone anew. He finished third at the fifth round in France, achieving his first MotoGP podium, and it wasn’t before long that he got to step onto the top of the rostrum. At the twelfth race, the British Grand Prix held at the Silverstone Circuit, he registered his first ever MotoGP win. He finished the season strong with two more third places, in Japan and on Phillip Island, to secure fourth place in the championship. His talent was undeniable and didn’t go unnoticed by Yamaha, who signed Viñales for the 2017 and 2018 season.
Viñales lived up to the hype. After a very strong debut on the YZR-M1 during the 2017 pre- season, the young Spaniard went on to win the first two races in Qatar and Argentina. He followed up the achievement by securing Yamaha its 500th Grand Prix victory in Le Mans, after a sensational fight with teammate Valentino Rossi. Despite the season being filled with grip issues, the Spaniard brought in solid points, scoring second places in Mugello and Silverstone and third places in Brno and on Phillip Island, to ultimately conclude the season in third place.
After such a strong first year with Yamaha’s Factory MotoGP Team, Viñales was hungry to show his talent again in 2018, but the season proved to be difficult. Nevertheless, the Spaniard scored podiums at the rounds at COTA, TT Circuit Assen, the Sachsenring, and Buriram. He returned to winning form in the race at Phillip Island, giving Yamaha its first victory since the round at Assen one year prior. He finished the season in fourth place overall, just five points behind his teammate in third position.
2019 signalled a new start for Viñales. He changed his rider number from #25 to #12 and welcomed new Crew Chief Esteban García to his side of the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP pit box. They had a successful collaboration before in 2013, winning the Moto3 World Championship. After a challenging start to the season, the changes that were made began to bear fruit. Though taken out by fellow riders on three separate occasions in the first half of the season (in Argentina, France, and Catalunya), the Spaniard still visited the podium regularly in 2019. He scored a third place in Jerez and followed it up with a stunning win in Assen, a second place at Sachsenring, third places at Silverstone, Misano, and Buriram, and another epic win in Malaysia. Viñales’ relentless determination earned him third in the overall championship standings and left him fully motivated to push 100% in 2020.
However, the global Covid-19 pandemic meant that the championship was anything but usual. Once the season got underway in July, Viñales started his campaign with two second places in Jerez. He went on to grab three poles and he took a superb win at the Emilia Romagna GP. Though it wasn’t all smooth sailing in 2020, he was still in with a shot for the championship going into the European GP held in Valencia, Spain. But having to start from pit lane at this third-last race meant more or less the end of his 2020 title challenge. However, the Yamaha Factory rider is known for his fighter’s mentality. He will be pushing harder than ever in 2021 to return as a main protagonist this MotoGP season.
Fotos: Yamaha Factory