“I fell in love, I fell in love, I gave my heart to El Diablo”

Now a world champion, Fabio Quartararo is a household name in the MotoGP sphere. ATRL’s Chloe Harper-Daly takes a look at the young Frenchman’s career.

Written by Chloe Harper Daly

January 10, 2022

Beginnings

Like many riders, Fabio isn’t the first in the family to ride motorcycles; his dad Etienne Quartararo was a champion of the 125cc category. Fabio Quartararo began riding motorcycles at the young age of 4. He moved to Spain to chase the beginnings of a successful motorcycling career and compete in the Promovelocidad cup in which he won 50cc class in 2008, the 70cc class in 2009, and the 80cc class in 2011. He then competed in the Mediterranean pre-Moto3 championship, which he won. In 2013, Fabio joined the CEV Repsol Moto3 series with Wild Wolf Racing which he once again won, becoming the youngest person to win it since Aleix Esparago in 2004 at 14 years and 218 days old.  Fabio stayed in the championship a second year due to his young age but switched teams to Estrella Galicia 0,0. That didn’t stop him from defending his title, as he won 7/9 races of the season.

Fabio in Misano after securing his first world championship (Photo via @fabioquartararo20 on Instagram)

El Diablo

It is not uncommon for athletes to have nicknames, but where did Fabio get El Diablo? The Spanish word for the devil doesn’t quite seem to fit such a kind-looking man. Quartararo had a replica of the 2000 125cc world champion Roberto Locatelli’s devil on his helmet as a kid. During his training in Spain, his fellow rider then began calling him El Diablo, and it just stuck. 

 

Climbing the Ladder

Luckily, they changed the rules so the CEV champion could move up to Moto3 no matter their age because of Fabio, and he was able to compete despite being 15. Staying with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team, Fabio moved to the Moto3 World Championship. In official pre-season testing, he was fastest in five out of nine sessions, which gave the impression he was on for a fantastic rookie season. Fabio achieved his first podium finish at the circuit of the Americas and finished second place in Assen in his rookie year. He had consistent point finishes, and an injury ultimately soured his season. Fabio fractured his ankle in a Free Practice crash in Misano and missed the last 6 rounds. The following year, Fabio had a fresh start in Moto3 with Leopard Racing, but his Moto3 went from bad to worse. His best result was 4th and went pointless in a lot of races.

 

Up and Down like COTA

In 2017, Fabio was given a chance to move up to Moto2 with Pons Racing despite not living up to expectations in Moto3. The 18-year-old managed a 7th place finish in his debut race in Qatar, but his results in the rest of the season didn’t improve. His highest finish was 6th at San Marino, and he finished 10th in the championship overall with 64 points. In 2018, Fabio switched to Speed Up Racing, where he achieved his first win at Catalunya.

 

Controversy 

Like all motorsport, MotoGP is no stranger to controversy, and the reigning world champion is no exception. Fabio came under fire when he removed his chest protector during the Catalan Grand Prix. The chest protector absorbs the impact when riders come off their bikes and could save them from seriously injuring themselves. As it played out on TV, the zip on Fabio’s leathers seemed to be open for unknown reasons, and then he proceeded to remove his chest protector. The rules state that safety equipment, which includes such protectors, must be worn at all times. Fabio received a penalty and moved on from his big controversy of the season to win the championship.

 

‘Peccing’ at a Rivalry 

MotoGP had a great battle for the title in the 2021 season between youngsters Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo. However, the rivalry began way before MotoGP. In Moto3, the pair collided during the Qatar Grand Prix while battling for the lead. The pair have been through the feeder classes and into MotoGP together and have battled even in FP1s.  It wasn’t till the third to last race we saw Fabio come out on top as champion after mistakes from Bagnaia. 

Accepting his World Championship Award at FIM Awards 2021 in Valencia (Photo via @fabioquartararo20 on Instagram)

World-Class

In the third to last race of the season, Fabio became the first French MotoGP champion when Pecco Bagnaia came off his bike in the lead. He achieved 5 race wins and 5 pole positions throughout the season. He and his friends had an extravagant celebration featuring a questionably large devil in a Fabio T-shirt, an emotional video of Fabio’s journey to his first championship, and a delighted Fabio singing on a table. I believe it is to say we think he definitely celebrated well. Here’s to the first of hopefully many championships for El Diablo. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Chloe and I have a huge passion for motorsports. I want to work in media in the future and I love writing. My favourite drivers are Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and my favourite team is McLaren. You can find me on Instagram @chloeharperdaly.

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