From STK600 to World Champion, it's been quite a journey for Franco Morbidelli
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is the 2017 FIM Moto2 World Champion after wrapping up the crown at Sepang International Circuit. Following a stunning season in which the Italian has taken eight wins, six poles and 11 podiums, the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider becomes the first Italian Champion in the intermediate class for nearly ten years – the previous being Marco Simoncelli in 2008. From STK600 to Moto2, Morbidelli has quickly risen to the top.
First making a foray onto the stage in 2009 in a one-off ride at Valencia in the FIM CEV Repsol, Morbidelli would soon make a much bigger splash in 2011 as he competed in the Superstock 600 class of the Italian national championship – alongside four races in the European STK600 championship. The following year, Morbidelli was runner up in the national championship and took three wins – and took his first podium and first pole position at European level the same year.
That laid solid foundations for an assault on the title in 2013, and Morbidelli made good on his promise by taking five podiums – of which two were wins – on his way to wrapping up his first international crown. 2013 was also the season Morbidelli debuted on the world stage, with three Moto2 appearances.
That was the path the Italian would follow going forward. A full-time ride in 2014 saw Morbidelli gaining traction throughout the season, with the latter half of the year full of top ten results on his way to eleventh overall. 2015 got off the ground running with five top six results in the opening five rounds, and by Indianapolis the future World Champion was on the rostrum for the first time in third. Missing some rounds due to injury, the end of the year saw him rake in more points – but 2016 was just around the corner.
The first real taste of the 2017 World Champion was more than evident in 2016. After a slower start, Morbidelli took some top four results and then his first podium of the year at the TT Circuit Assen. He followed that up with another at the Red Bull Ring, and was on the rostrum eight times in the last eleven races. Just missing out on the top three in the Championship by a single point, it was evident that the Italian would be a serious challenger in 2017.
Off to a flying start with a faultless win from pole, Morbidelli was three for three by the time the paddock arrived at Jerez. Then crashing out of contention, he was back on top next time out for a fourth win in five. Then followed victory at Assen and the Sachsenring as well as another podium at Silverstone, before the Italian crashed out the lead at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. Out to win next time out, Morbidelli took on compatriot Mattia Pasini at MotorLand Aragon in a stunning duel, and put everything on the line for his eighth win of the year.
An eighth at Motegi and a third on Phillip Island saw the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider arrive at Sepang with a 29 point advantage. Following a dramatic qualifying session that saw key rival Tom Lüthi suffer a fracture in his foot and get declared unfit, Morbidelli’s advantage at the top was enough to declare him 2017 Moto2 World Champion in Malaysia to round out his stunning season.
Date of birth: 4th December 1994
Place of birth: Rome, Italy
First GP: Misano 2013, Moto2™
First pole position: Qatar 2017, Moto2™
First podium: Indianapolis 2015, Moto2™
First victory: Qatar 2017, Moto2™
Pole positions: 6
Fastest laps: 11
Titles: Moto2™ (2017)
World Championship career
2013: Moto2™ World Championship — 3 races
2014: Moto2™ World Championship — Kalex, 11th, 18 starts, 75 points
2015: Moto2™ World Championship — Kalex, 10th, 14 starts, 90 points
2016: Moto2™ World Championship — Kalex, 4th, 18 starts, 213 points
2017: Moto2™ World Championship — World Champion — Kalex, 17 starts, 288 points