(Motorsport-Total.com) – Currently out of work for 2024, but took the first victory in MotoGP shortly before the end of the 2023 season: what Fabio Di Giannantonio achieved on Sunday at the Qatar Grand Prix at the Lusail International Circuit It will be He will not forget so quickly.
Fabio Di Giannantonio celebrates his first victory in MotoGP
After “Diggia” took second place in both qualifying and the sprint on Saturday, he overcame Sunday’s Grand Prix in a duel with World Championship leader Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia.
Riding his Gresini Ducati of last year’s GP22 specification, Di Giannantonio attacked Bagnaia on the current factory Ducati in the final phase of the race. He overtook the world leader with three and a half laps remaining and a few minutes later he had his first MotoGP victory in his pocket.
Shortly before the decisive overtake at Bagnaia, Di Giannantonio saw the message “Mapping 8” appear on the screen of his Gresini Ducati. Was it a stable order from Ducati? In many places, memories of the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix immediately came flooding back to him.
In October 2017 at Sepang, official Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo received the “Mapping 8” message and at that time it meant that he could no longer overtake his teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who was fighting for the world title. This time the meaning of the message was different, as Di Giannantonio reveals after his victory over Bagnaia.
What “Mapping 8” meant to Di Giannantonio
“Mapping 8 was simply the signal for me to attack,” explains Di Giannantonio, explaining the Gresini team’s tactics: “We had planned the race very carefully. I had to start well. I had to be in a certain position after the first lap …I had to watch the tires mid-race. And then I would get a signal at the right time. When the signal comes, it’s time to attack.”
“That was a good sign,” Di Giannantonio admits. “Because I couldn’t see my pit board. There were so many pit boards displayed that I couldn’t even see mine. That’s why I didn’t even know how many laps I had left to drive.”
To get the first victory, “Diggia” had to overcome the World Championship leader, “Pecco” Bagnaia.
“When I made Mapping 8 [auf dem Display] I saw, I realized that now is the time. Of course, since it was ‘Pecco’ in front of me, I had to be a little careful. That’s why I tried to make the overtaking maneuver as clean as possible,” recalls Di Giannantonio.
The moment had arrived at turn 12 of lap 19 of 22. With his light blue Gresini Ducati, “Diggia” overtook Bagnaia’s official red Ducati on the inside and took the lead. “For a moment I felt sorry for him because I was stealing some points from him. But finally I saw the opportunity for my first victory,” recalls Di Giannantonio and says: “I hope the maneuver is clean.” “
The decision in this duel had not yet been made. But the decision was made half a lap after the overtaking maneuver. When braking into Turn 1, Bagnaia’s Ducati was absorbed by the slipstream of Di Giannantonio’s Gresini Ducati. The two almost collided.
With great luck, Bagnaia was able to avoid a fall. But as he had to draw a wide arc across the asphalt starting area, a final attack on Di Giannantonio was no longer an option for him. It was “Diggia” who crossed the finish line first with a lead of 2.7 seconds.
“I feel relaxed. But also because I still haven’t really understood what happened,” admits Di Giannantonio, the last winner of a MotoGP race. He now achieved his first victory in the penultimate race of his second season in the premier category. Until then, it wasn’t always an easy road for him.
Di Giannantonio’s first and so far only pole was achieved on his eighth attempt, at Mugello 2022. At that time, this achievement was mainly due to the weather conditions.
“Diggia” had to be patient for almost two full years (38 in Grand Prix terms) before his first victory in the premier class. On this path he always remained true to himself, even and especially when it became clear that he would not get a third MotoGP season at Gresini-Ducati.
Malaysia’s “unsightly” development unleashed new forces
“I think it’s a shame that a lot of people think that self-confidence is some kind of arrogance. But it’s not. It’s just that with self-confidence you can do a little more. I’m someone who develops self-confidence “step by step, improving, improving and learning,” says the 25-year-old Italian.
“Diggia” has recently taken great steps in his development as a MotoGP rider
“When I got here, I had the feeling that I had reached the point where I was a fairly complete racing driver. It’s time to take the next step. And that is exactly the step we have managed to take here,” says Di Giannantonio. happily and reveals another secret after his redeeming first MotoGP victory.
“After the weekend in Malaysia, something happened regarding my future, not good,” he says. With this, Di Giannantonio refers to the doors that have closed for him in 2024. “At home I told my closest friends and family that I would win in Qatar.”
The advice “Diggia” received later from friends and family? “They told me, ‘Fabio, don’t spread the word. Just fly there and do your job. Because if you let your tongue out, all the energy will be lost.’ So I said, ‘Don’t worry. I’m just telling you that I’m going to win.’ “.
Does the first victory in MotoGP come too late for “Diggia”?
First ranking in the top five at the end of September in India, first podium in mid-October in Australia, first victory in mid-November in Qatar: Di Giannantonio’s progress in the second half of his second season in MotoGP is also the Lo The same thing was not hidden from his companion from Gresini.
Alex Márquez has his own theory that “Diggia” has not only been able to keep up with him several times lately, but has even left him behind several times: “Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have a contract at the moment. If you’re in this situation , then you approach race weekends differently.”
It remains to be seen what will happen to Di Giannantonio after two years at Gresini-Ducati.
“Maybe for him this situation will help him be more determined, more aggressive and more focused,” Alex Márquez continued. And in that context, the Asturian also highlights his partner.
“Not only did he increase his own performance, but he also raised the entire team to a higher level,” says the younger Marquez about Di Giannanantonio. “The fact that I drive the way I do now is partly down to him. I’m very happy for him. The only question is whether [der Sieg] Don’t be late for him.”
And what does Marc Márquez say about it? After all, the older of the two Márquez brothers is exactly the rider who will take Di Giannantonio’s place in the Gresini team for the 2024 MotoGP season.
“I congratulate him. He brings out the best of himself exactly when he needs it most,” said Marc Márquez about “Diggia” and continued: “He has talent. But as the last World Cup demonstrated many times, “in addition to talent, Sometimes it is the same how important it is to be in the right place at the right time.
The coming days and weeks will show whether an unexpected door will open for Di Giannantonio for 2024 (or later) with his first MotoGP victory.