Four-time FIM Women’s World Champion Kiara Fontanesi has spoken about the surprising news last month that the 21-year-old will be racing a privately-entered CRF250R in the 2016 seven-round Grand Prix series.
The Italian had been a Yamaha stalwart since her WMX breakthrough in 2009 as a teenager and riding a two-stroke YZ125, and had claimed all four of her crowns (two of which excitingly snared in the final fixtures of the ’14 and ’15 championships) with a YZ250F.
At a team presentation in December ‘Fonta’ appeared with the Honda in what was a shock change and for Yamaha represents the loss of their most prolific off-road motorcycling athlete.
“I worked with some amazing people at Yamaha, people that gave me a chance to race in the world championship when I was nothing and always provided support,” Fontanesi explained exclusively. “We achieved a lot together and I will always be grateful for their part in all the success. There have been changes at Yamaha Motor Europe, as everyone knows from 2015, and we just couldn’t find an agreement to continue where both parties were happy.”
“I talked with my Dad [mechanic and fellow co-ordinator of the ‘Fonta MX’ race team] and we decided the best course of action was to try and do it ourselves in the first year,” she goes on. “We chose a Honda as it seemed the most simple and the easiest of the bikes to ride and set-up and my technical partners, like GET to name just one, were very supportive again. Since we made the announcement we had quite a few calls about taking the Honda but we will stick to privateer status for 2016 and then see about a direction.”
Fontanesi is arguably the most recognisable name in her discipline thanks to the titles, Grand Prix dominance and even winning her wild-card outings in the AMA series.
She is now chasing a fifth championship in a row for the ’16 term that visits Qatar, Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Holland once more. The switch to the CRF adds extra spice to the forthcoming dispute where she is expected to renew rivalries with Livia Lancelot and the likes of Nancy Van der Ven.
“I was happy just to win one [title] but then when you get to three you really want that fourth! We made it happen and it is something very special,” she reflects. “For sure the motivation now has changed and 2016 will be a different racing year compared to what we are normally used to. We will have a lot of work in less than two months to get the bike ready and in the best condition possible for Qatar. We’ll probably do some local races and I will take part in the Italian national series again but otherwise our first major race on the Honda will be the first GP.”