On the weekend when it was officially confirmed he had lost his Gresini Ducati ride to Marc Marquez for 2024, Fabio di Giannantonio delivered the …
Marquez was the last in a long line of riders linked to replacing di Giannantonio, with the 25-year-old almost assumed to be out of a 2024 ride for much of this season as he struggled to match the pace of the other Ducatis.
But di Giannantonio and his crew kept their heads down and the hard work finally paid off with career-best equalling eighth places in Japan, then sixth (Sprint) and fourth (Grand Prix) at Mandalika.
“Even if all the world joked about me and went almost against me. Me and my staff never gave up,” said di Giannantonio, who joined the top three of Francesco Bagnaia, Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo in parc ferme as the top Independent rider.
“I always worked and focused on being better and better, faster and faster. Today is not a win. It is not a podium. But it is a great result that gives you a little [reward]. It was a good moment.”
di Giannantonio reached fourth after fighting his way from just 15th on the opening lap.
“I got away good but I was too close with Marc so I closed a bit the throttle. I lost a lot of places. So I said, ‘OK, now is the time to be really focussed’,” he said.
“I honestly rode one of the cleanest races of my life. Super-smooth and precise. I was getting faster, faster and faster. And I manged the tyres really well. So I was managing the tyres, pushing, making clean overtakes. It was perfect, let’s say.”
Inside the top ten just once from Assen to India, and with his MotoGP future a byproduct of the growing Marc Marquez speculation, Diggia dug in and closed himself off from all the negative distractions.
“I am a human. Like everybody. I have emotions, I have feelings. So for sure, it has been tough because this is not just a sport; it’s my life. So being talked about in my job has been one of the toughest things in my life,” he said.
“But also as humans, we are able to be strong and I have been strong in the down moments, for sure. I wanted and it forced me to be strong to work, work, work. To be focussed.
“Close socials, close interviews, various rumours, various comments and just work on myself. Being in ‘the cave’ and working like crazy. This is a small result that says ‘You are doing good’. It has not been easy, but we are coming back.”
Di Giannantonio’s only hope of remaining in MotoGP for a third season would appear to be at LCR, if Johann Zarco is moved to take over from Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda.
“It is also a pity for the championship to lose a rider that is doing a good job. So I think I am gaining more and more chances to stay. Then let’s see,” di Giannantonio said of 2024.
Only if he is “100% sure that I cannot stay in MotoGP next year, will I consider another championship.”
Di Giannantonio is 14th in the world championship heading into this weekend’s Phillip Island round when injured team-mate Alex Marquez will make another attempt to return from rib fractures.