In 2016, Fabio Di Giannantonio was runner-up Rookie of the Year, only 10 points behind. His standing this season, 6th place overall, is however a very successful result for a newcomer to the world championship.
Looking back at his debut season, the 18-year-old Italian, a.k.a. Diggia, saw his home race, the Italian Grand Prix, as his turning point.
“In Le Mans, it was not a very good race because I finished 17th.. But we found a good setup at our home race in Mugello and finished the race in 2nd place. From there, we did a great job and became competitive.”
The key to success for his home Grand Prix was the private testing they did before race weekend.
“After Le Mans, we did tests in Misano. We tried some things on the bike and found a good setup that gave me good feel. It was really important for me because being a rookie, you don't know anything about the tracks, bike, and everything. So, the more you have a great feel for your bike, the more you can push. That was really important for me.”
“Also, in the world championship, you have to be very consistent. Last year, after Mugello I finished almost all the races within the top 10. It was a great step forward in my championship standings. So, for the championship, it is very important to be always within the top 5 or top 10. To make it happen, finishing the race every time with maximum effort is very important. It is what I had learned from last year.”
In the 2017 campaign, many Honda riders fiercely battle for the podium, including Diggia. From his point of view, what makes the NSF250RWs so competitive?
“Last year, the other manufacturers were very fast. With their chassis and engine. The Hondas were a little behind from them. But I think, this year, Honda made a lot of progress with the engine. Also, with the swingarm, because now we have more traction than last year. It is better for acceleration. I think that’s why we are there.”
“But I think the best part is that the bike is just so smooth to ride. It is easy to ride when you go into the turns, and you can do whatever you want on the bike. I think this is important for the rider.”
In the Moto3 class, every race is a nail-biting affair. Last year, Fabio Di Giannantonio described himself as “diesel" (being a slow starter). This is also the case for this year, he analyzes himself.
“I don't know why, but whenever we start the race weekend, we are very far behind. And step by step, we improve and arrive there towards the end of the weekend. So, I think I am 'diesel' this year, too.”
This year’s "diesel," however, is getting better at starting. After finishing 8th in the season-opener in Qatar, Di Giannantonio finished 3rd on the podium in the United States, then grabbed another 3rd in Le Mans. And at the Italian Grand Prix, his turning point last year, he crossed the finish line in 2nd place, only 0.037s behind the winner. It was his third podium for this season.
“In the last lap, I was in the second place and said to myself ‘wow, maybe I'm going to win,’ because I had a chance of overtaking exiting the last turn using the other rider's slipstream. But, Andrea [Migno] was very fast. I couldn't overtake him, but it's okay because it’s another podium, the third one this year, which is very good. For my team and the championship, it is also a very good result. I'm really happy."
This result moved Fabio Di Giannantonio into 3rd place in the championship. The “diesel” has undoubtedly begun to show his potential.