09 Dec Interview with Franco Morbidelli: ‘I’m a better rider than at the beginning of 2019’
2019 saw former Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli take a big step forward in his sophomore season in MotoGP as he and PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team linked up. Securing four front-row starts, finishing as top Independent Rider on three occasions and matching his best-ever finish of fifth four times, he also helped the team to secure the honour of Independent Teams Champion as well as finishing inside the top ten of the overall MotoGP World Championship.
With the 2019 season at a close, we sat down with Franco to discuss his highs and lows of the year.
How different are you from the Franco Morbidelli who joined the team one year ago?
“As a person, I’m not much, much different, but as a rider, I hope that I’ve grown up a lot and I think that we did grow together as a whole crew. Most importantly, I’ve improved my knowledge of the bike that I’m riding, and I think that the end result of that is that I’m a better rider than I was at the beginning of 2019.”
Would you have been happy with the 2019 season in November 2018?
“For the speed that I had in 2019, yes, I’d have been happy with this past year. Looking back now, I think I was hoping for better results in terms of position, but the speed we were able to show was really good throughout the year. Because of that, if I had to rate the season from one to ten it would be a seven.”
What have you learned in 2019 and what do you want to learn for 2020?
“This past season, the most important thing that I learned is that to be successful in a MotoGP race, it isn’t good enough to just be the fastest guy. You need to have other things as well, and I want to be able to bring those things next year. If I told you what the things I need to do to improve are I would be giving away my secrets though!”
What role did the team play in your 2019 season?
“The team played a pivotal role because it’s them who brought Fabio and me ahead so much this season. Of course, what we all see are the achievements of the riders, but there are many people behind the riders and if the racers are doing well it’s because they’re in a condition that allows them to do well. What this team brings is a very good environment that allows the riders to perform to their best every weekend.”
How important were Yamaha this year?
“The Yamaha YZR-M1 is a very nice bike, a very good package. It’s very rider-friendly, and I couldn’t ask for more from it. The people from Yamaha are very nice to work with as well, and we have a great relationship with all the guys, which makes it even better.”
Which of the season’s results are you most proud of and what was the biggest regret?
“Assen was a nice race, especially in the final laps. I was catching up on the opponents in front of me towards the end of the race, and that’s always a nice feeling. The biggest regret of the year; well, I’m just sorry for what happened in Aragon.”
What are your expectations for 2020?
“I expect a hard season in 2020 like it always is in MotoGP. I’m expecting improvements from ourselves too though. From myself as a rider, from our team as a whole team and from my crew as a whole crew. We have one more year of experience gained from working together, so we’ll start the season with everything more in shape. I’m expecting good things!”
What are your plans for the winter break?
“I’ll be all around the world during the break! I’ll do the Sepang 8 Hours in December so I’ll be in Malaysia for a while, then I’ll go skiing and make some time for more bike riding. Then I’ll go to the Caribbean for a while as well, so I’m planning on getting all around!”