The president of the French Motorcycling Federation, Sébastien Poirier, elected a year ago, told Figaro his ambition so that the coronation of the Niçois does not remain isolated.
What feeling animates you after the title of world champion won on Sunday by Fabio Quartararo, the first for France in the premier category?
Sébastien Poirier: Like many viewers and like many motorcycle enthusiasts, I spent a historic Sunday afternoon. It was a moment of fulfillment for this young athlete.
Since Fabio Quartararo did all his motorcycle classes in Spain, can we really speak of it as a success for French motorcycles?
Yes, it’s true that Fabio left to run in Spain at a very young age. Not because he did not like France because it must be remembered that he made his first laps in France and that it is Sébastien Gimbert (former French champion 250cm3 in 1996 and 1997) who has everything following detected the talent of this young man. Now, it is certain that there is a motorcycle culture in Spain which is so marked on speed that there is a formidable emulation among young people. However, I think we have to put things into perspective because Fabio is an exceptional driver and even if he learned much faster in Spain, I remain convinced that he would have succeeded elsewhere too because he has the caliber of a champion, simply. There are other French people or other nationalities who ride in Spain and we do not necessarily find them in the World Championship, on the top step of the podiums. Fabio learned a lot in Spain but intrinsically he is an exceptional champion.
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How, from now on, to use this title to develop the whole speed sector in France and to make up, at least in part, the delay on Spain?
This is what is at stake in this historic title which obliges us and commits us to a very broad federation approach in order to be able to welcome as many children as possible who dream of themselves or will dream of themselves in Fabio. From the 2022 season, we have put in place a whole development plan, which will start from the base, namely the motorcycle clubs. There will be a review of our labeling policy, the objective of which is to allow families to know which clubs to direct their children to, which circuits to find out about. Secondly, like what Spain has done, we have worked a lot on the kart circuits, so that we can organize eight regional championships from next year, to offer proximity before to aspire to run at the national level. But to come back to your question, we are fully aware that Fabio’s title is a historic opportunity for our Federation, and more generally for French motorcycles. We want to take advantage of this moment of euphoria to take advantage of the quality regional championships on almost the entire territory.
We are never more alive than on a motorbike.
Do you recognize that for many years, motocross and enduro have been privileged over speed in France?
It is not I, president of the federation, who will tell you. There have been titles in France in recent years in a hurry. I’m thinking of Johann Zarco in Moto2 in 2015 and 2016, Sylvain Guintoli in Superbike in 2014, Mike Di Meglio in 125cc in 2008… In Supersport we also had very good performances. The speed sector should not be reduced to its premier class, MotoGP. The sector is doing well in France. What is certain is the project that I am carrying as the new president is intended to be pyramidal. The first idea is to structure the offer from the ground up. We must ensure that there are more children riding on the kart tracks.
Do you think that the title of Fabio Quartararo can also change the look of the French in general on the bike, which is often criticized?
France is generally much more critical than the others in all areas, not just of motorcycles. We still struggle to see the positives. Today, we have a world champion who is French, who has this freshness, this carefree attitude, who shines and who gives the country an enthusiastic face. I hope that the French will support it and have a better image of motorcycles through it, if they have a negative one. I believe in it anyway. And this is the opportunity for us to show a very sporty and positive image.
Motorcycles obviously retain an image of dangerous sport. How do you plan to reassure the parents of children who would like to imitate the journey of a Fabio Quartararo?
On the concept of danger, it is necessary to relativize. We have very precise statistics on this and we are on a very decent grim report if we compare ourselves to other sports. Afterwards, I believe that everything goes through learning from an educator, in a club, who takes you through the stages one after the other in order to control your bike in a more agile way. This being said, intrinsically, it is clear that a crash on a motorcycle at 200km / h will always entail a greater risk of injury, even if we are working on the safety of the rider’s equipment and the circuits. But it’s part of our sport, and that’s what makes it so exceptional. We are never more alive than on a motorbike. All your senses are on the alert, you are 100% of your attention and the motorcycle has this extraordinary character which stems from this danger. It is in our DNA, although we must continue to work to limit the risk of injury. This is the heart of the work of our federation.
Do you think that for your Federation, there will be a before and an after title of world champion?
I believe him. Through the coronation of Fabio, we are now one of the seven nations which have been titled in the premier category. I think we have erased this historic error and I am very happy about it. We are very proud to have this title of world champion that we have been waiting for so many years. And I hope that this new French page of the premier category which is opening, after the Italian and the Spanish, will last a long time.
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