16 years after he last competed in WorldSSP, Michel Fabrizio reveals his goals, how the comeback came about and how the team will work with rookie Shogo Kawasaki
A new start after several years of absence from the paddock. This is the feeling of Michel Fabrizio (Motozoo Puccetti Racing) who will be back in the FIM Supersport World Championship in 2021 having not raced in the class since 2005 and not within the WorldSBK paddock since 2016. In an interview, Fabrizio discusses his return to competition on the world stage, his rookie teammate and how his comeback came about.
The 36-year-old driver from Lazio is very happy to return to the intermediate class of production derivatives. “The sensations are beautiful but at the same time also very strange. My debut in fact dates back to the 125cc class when I was 16. Now I experience this return almost as if it were a first time even if at the age of 36. I can say that it is a train that passes for the second time and that stops again.”
A return that really came about by chance as Michel tells us in this interview: “On December 26th I was at home on the sofa; I was watching the Lupine TV series on Netflix. At some point I get a message from a friend. I ask him 'listen, do you know if there are teams in Supersport still without riders? His response was 'I hear Manuel Puccetti'. So, I sent a message to Manuel saying, 'do you want to take an old man on your team?'. His answer was let’s speak tomorrow.'”
In two weeks, the parties reached an agreement and Fabrizio is enthusiastic about returning to the WorldSSP paddock: "On 11th January I went to him in Reggio Emilia and we signed the contract. The result is that I am training like crazy to get back to top levels after four years off.”
Six years of absence from the WorldSBK paddock is a long time, but the Frascati rider is undoubtedly not lacking in experience. He can rely on this to fight for the positions that count in WorldSSP. How did Fabrizio spend this period? “The first two years I was the team manager of one of my teams that participated in the Italian championship in the Moto3 class and with which we won the title of vice-champions at national level. In 2018 I was engaged as a rider in the Italian 600 championship, then I worked as a talent scout for boys aged between 10 and 14 engaged with Ohvale bikes. I also manage a kart track in Civitavecchia, on the Lazio coast north of Rome.”
Fabrizio last raced in WorldSSP in 2005, a year in which he claimed five podiums. The goals for this season are ambitious. There is a lot of optimism on the part of the team and the rider: "I expect 'little' from myself, in the sense that I am setting out to win at least one race. I'm aiming for a top ten final position. It will be a very intense season. But I am aware that the first race will be very important to understand how much work we will have to work to get there.”
In the new experience in the paddock of the intermediate class he will compete for Motozoo Puccetti Racing, using Kawasaki machinery, led by team manager Fabio Uccelli: “I will bring a lot of experience to the team, but the great thing is that with him in 2003 with Suzuki we were both rookies and we won the European Superstock 1000 title.”
Fabrizio will be joined at the team by Japanese rookie Shogo Kawasaki. In the current climate with the ongoing pandemic, this could cause issues with travelling but the team and Fabrizio have a plan: “I am very happy to have Shogo Kawasaki as my teammate. Together with 'Fabietto' we have decided that - to avoid the complications related to the restrictions in terms of travel from Japan caused by the pandemic - during the season Shogo will stay at my house for a month and at his house for a month. We will make friends and train together.”
Fabrizio and the team have ridden on two occasions in Vallelunga. Fabrizio outlined the testing plan for the team, saying: "After Vallelunga, if we succeed, we will go to Misano while at the end of the month we will be busy with tests (with the support of Dorna) scheduled in Barcelona.”
Covid-19 has partly conditioned Michel's work program as he is preparing to re-join WorldSSP. Fabrizio, however, looks at the glass as half full: “For me, to be honest, it was almost better this way since I have more time to train even considering that we will get to the start of the world championship with only six days of testing. So far, I have only met Fabio and the mechanics. The team is made up of six technicians, in addition to the coach, us riders and the team manager who does everything. I believe that the first contact with the full team will be in Barcelona. Goals for the season? Fabio was clear, we have to win! I think that if at the end of the year the team manages to be in the top five positions of the team classification, we can be really happy, it would be a great result!”
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