Given the strength of the 2022 MotoGP rookie crop, Fabio Di Giannantonio is perhaps a name that stands out slightly given he has only one Moto2 victory under his belt.
But with the faith of the Gresini Racing team after a long history together, the Italian could well be a dark horse for the season ahead given the strength of his preseason testing debut at Jerez.
After just two days of testing on the Spanish circuit at the end of the 2021 season, the 23-year-old was a rather impressive 19th out of the 29 riders present.
His fastest lap on team Gresini’s new Ducatis was only a second and a half behind championship finalist Pecco Bagnaia – and just 0.003 seconds behind rookie and 2020 race winner Jorge Martin.
And, with Martin’s Ducati rookie Enea Bastianini on the other side of the garage to help Di Giannantonio learn the ropes in his debut season, the team’s sales and marketing director Carlo Merlini says he’s confident afterwards. the test that the duo will work well together when the action begins in Qatar in March.
“Diggia was extremely excited to test,” the veteran team principal told The Race.
“It was the dream of a lifetime, and probably every rider’s dream.
“I told him that I actually think he started to think too much about MotoGP in 2021, but overall he had a very good season and he brought the Gresini Moto2 team back to victory as well as ‘at several podiums.
“We know him very well, and they [Bastianini and Di Giannantonio] were actually teammates with Gresini Moto3 in 2016, so they know each other very well.
“Even before, they were children with their mini-motorcycles.
“Their whole career has been like parallel railroads. I think we have a very good team.
“Obviously, Diggia will be a rookie and we will ask him not to rush, to get familiar with the bike and see how fast he can pick it up and move up the rankings. But everything bodes well for a very good and very exciting season.
Coming less to the squad than being promoted within it, Di Giannantonio is largely a product of the late Fausto Gresini’s unofficial academy system – and a driver the former world champion had previously picked for. his new effort in MotoGP before tragically succumbing to COVID. -19 last year.
Di Giannantonio first joined the team in 2015 replacing injured Andrea Locatelli while competing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup (where he finished second behind Dutch rider Bo Bendsneyder). He became a permanent fixture on Gresini’s Moto3 team in 2016 – and has risen through the ranks with the team since then.
Twice on the podium in his first season in the lightweight class and fifth and sixth in his first two years, the youngster quickly established himself as a regular Gresini favorite – with a more concerted effort in 2018 on seeing his first Grand Prix victories and ending an incredible season for the team finishing second in the championship behind his then teammate Martin.
This prompted him to switch to Moto2 for 2019 and his first split with Team Gresini, albeit amicably, as he made his way to Team Speed Up. Visibly at a disadvantage compared to the dominant machine Kalex, he nevertheless climbed on the podium twice, in Brno and at home in Misano; enough to conclude his first season as a top rookie – just ahead of Martin and the future and former team-mate of Gresini Bastianini.
The following season was less successful, however, with five crashes in 14 races that began his championship standings, and despite two more podiums he finished the year in 15th place – and quickly announced a return to his old family. for 2021, as he returned to Gresini.
And, at the meeting, things immediately picked up, with the Roman scoring his first victory in the middleweight class – and the team’s first emotional victory since Gresini’s death – in Jerez.
Coupled with three more podiums and seventh overall, that means his 2021 campaign prepares him well for promotion in 2022 – and if testing is anything to go by, those prospects could be really high.