The Italian’s second year in the intermediate class, riding for team Speed Up alongside Spaniard Jorge Navarro, has proved less than dazzling.
After finishing thirteenth in the season opener at Qatar, the Italian failed to score a single point at the next five races, a crash at Jerez followed by four failed attempts to reach the points zone ruling him out of the running for the championship early on.
At Misano he scored a seventh and eighth place finish, and from here things picked him, his first podium of the season (third) coming the following week during the Catalunya GP.
Having got to grips with the bike, he looked to be back in form at the first Aragon GP, competitive right from Friday morning and up at the sharp end in the race. But as we’ve seen this season, Sunday can often be a day to forget for him. He made a strong start at the Spanish track and was dominating the race along with Bezzecchi (fourth in the overall standings), but as soon as he took the lead in the final stages, he made a mistake after just two corners and found himself on the ground. The following weekend, at the same track, he avoided mistakes and finished second behind a stratospheric Lowes.
Too many ‘rookie mistakes’
After the Aragon 2 podium came three consecutive zeros, the most unfortunate being that of Valencia 2, where on the very last lap, an overly enthusiastic Franco crashed out a few corners from the end while leading the race.
This disaster was repeated at the final Portuguese event where, after a strong qualifying that saw him line up third, the Italian messed up the start and, in an impossible attempt (considering the trajectory) to make up as many places as possible, he crashed at turn one, also bringing down Nicolò Bulega (seventh on the grid).
The many highs and lows have meant the young Italian has scored just 65 points this 2020 season, to finish fifteenth overall. A result that falls well below expectation for the 2019 Moto2 rookie of the year.
A lacklustre season for Speed Up
His team-mate Navarro has also struggled this season, with too many crashes, eight in fifteen races to be precise. To put things in perspective, the Spaniard scored eight podiums in 2019, and was considered one of the favourites for the title as 2020 got underway. But like Fabio, Jorge was soon ruled out, ultimately concluding the championship in seventeenth position.
Not exactly the best year for Luca Boscoscuro and his team then, but what’s been the main problem in the Speed Up camp? A bike with too many problems, or a lack of commitment on the part of the riders? The pace and speed have definitely been there on occasion, so we might conclude that both parties are to blame for this lacklustre season, the bike seeming less competitive at times, while on other occasions it was more a case of rider inconsistency.
Fabio is not short on talent, and was even one of the names on the list to replace Iannone in Aprilia in MotoGP, but perhaps it’s too soon for him to make that move. In 2021 he will aim to grow and fight for the title right from the outset, in a season that will have a different flavour, similar to the one he experienced in Moto3 with team Gresini.
The Gresini-Di Giannatonio pairing returns
Next year will see Fabio return to the team with which he spent three constructive years in Moto3. Fausto Gresini has chosen to bet on the Italian once more, welcoming him to the garage in 2021 alongside the team’s current rider, Niccolò Bulega.
New motivation for Fabio then, the title perhaps within his reach if he can avoid mistakes and immediately find feeling with his new bike.
It’s all in the Italian’s hands, the rider a clear favourite for the title alongside 2020 stars Lowes and Bezzecchi. If Fabio can live up to expectation, perhaps the MotoGP doors will open for him already in 2022.
Translated by Heather Watson