On a speed bike, Spain still distances itself from France

A French world champion in MotoGP, the premier category of speed bikes, this had never happened. The coronation of Fabio Quartararo, Sunday, October 24 in Misano, Italy, therefore has every reason to satisfy the representatives of this discipline in France. With one detail: the 22-year-old pilot was certainly born in Nice and has a French passport, but he is a pure product of the Spanish training sector.

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If Fabio Quartararo had to emigrate from an early age, it is because the Iberian Peninsula has become, for two decades, the Mecca of speed, when France swears only by motocross.

The French Motorcycling Federation (FFM) is also well aware that the new world champion is a little the tree that hides… the absence of forest. This is why it intends to take advantage of its success and its notoriety to try to relaunch the speed industry. “There has never been such an interest in motorcycles in France, it’s up to us to take advantage of it to democratize access to our sport”, insists Sébastien Poirier, the president of the FFM, who unveiled, on October 12, a plan in this direction.

The model is all found: “We want to copy what works in Spain by relying on the enthusiasm aroused by the performance of French drivers, Fabio Quartararo in the lead, but also Johann Zarco, who is one of the best”, says Sébastien Poirier.

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The divide between Spain and other countries began to widen with the acquisition in 1992 of the television rights to the MotoGP World Championship by Dorna Sports, a Spanish company. Close to that of Formula 1 (but shorter), the competition format has been designed to make it an attractive television “product”.

Develop regional leagues

“In Spain, audiences are strong, sometimes higher than those of football. This is why there is money, sponsors, teams… a whole ecosystem favorable to the emergence of champions which does not exist in France ”, decrypts Christian Sarron, world champion in 250 cm3 in 1984.

Even the fatal accidents of very young riders in recent years in categories below MotoGP do not seem to call into question the passion of the Spaniards. “Eight times world champion, Marc Marquez is an idol there. He is as popular as Zidane in France. Children dream of imitating him “, observes a veteran of the paddock.

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In Europe, only Italy rivals Spain, thanks to the lasting imprint left by another star, Valentino Rossi, the most successful rider in history (9 world championship titles, including 7 in MotoGP). If he announced his retirement at the end of this season, the “Doctor” has created in the Marches, his native region, a school to launch promising pilots into the deep end, the VR46 Riders Academy.

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