Fabio Farioli: Deep roots in Enduro – The making of a winning team
The Farioli name is synonymous with Enduro. Since the 1970s the family has been involved with the KTM brand and has been a mainstay in its racing era since the very beginning. Fabio’s father, a former Italian Enduro racer, began importing KTM machines when Fabio was born, and managed the Enduro team from the very start.
“My father was competing in the European Championship, but he quit quite early. I was a small kid when he had a team and my father also managed the KTM Motocross Teams for some years; with Trampas Parker he won the title in 1989, then with Mike Healy, Bobby Moore and then we concentrated on Enduro – I used to race too,” explained Fabio.
Enduro is well known for its passion and roots. Fabio was certainly brought up with a strong foundation in the sport, as after winning a national Motocross Championship, he switched to Enduro where he won a world title in 1993. He also won four times in the International Six Days Enduro and also in the Italian Championship. After his racing career was over, the Italian took over the reins from his father as the team manager for the KTM Enduro Factory Team.
“All the people working with the team have a lot of passion. For sure you can’t become rich with this kind of job, but we have passion. We work hard when it’s necessary, and we have one goal: to win.”
“At times I was half rider, half manager, but I think since I started managing the team we have won around 30 titles. There is no real secret [to success], but first of all in the background we have a big company that puts in the maximum effort. KTM and everyone around what we do put in a lot of support, and everyone is committed. The R&D team works incredibly hard, especially in the last years, and this has helped us a lot. We help them too for the bike development side. We don’t get complacent. The goal is to win and we do everything we can to win. From testing, to ensuring the right people are on board, bringing in new people in and utilizing the experience of those that have been here a long time. There are a lot of small things that fit together to make a winning team.”
Fabio explains the toughest part of managing a team is keeping morale high and keeping the dynamics between the team members in a good way. He works a lot to find the right people that can have fun when the time is right, but get down to business when there’s work to be done and ensure everyone gets together.
For 2016 Fabio has lost one of his star riders, Antoine Meo, who has gone on to pursue his dream of racing in the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team (Meo finished seventh in his Dakar debut this year, winning two stages, and heroically battling to the line with injury on the final day). The five-time Enduro World Champion was a sure star of the Enduro show and Fabio explains how it is in the team without him.
“For sure when it was decided he would move to Rally, it was not a news for me. I had a good relation with him and he had talked about this wish, but for sure when you have a top rider like him it is not nice to lose him. We were good friends, and with the mechanics too. We had a lot of satisfaction, but sometimes also we fought together! He’s a great guy, top rider and is very focused on what he wants to do. He never gives up; he always tries to do the best. I’m sure he misses us a little bit as he calls us a lot; he will compete in some races with us this year too and we look forward to that.”
But despite the departure of such a high profile rider, Fabio retains the services of Christophe Nambotin and Ivan Cervantes, while also welcoming young guns Nathan Watson and Taylor Robert. Fabio explains it was important to invest in the next generation of riders, and how he enjoys seeing them develop.
“Nathan has come from a Motocross background, he’s raced at Grand Prix level and he’s very fast, but of course he needs more experience in Enduro. We did two races in the Italian Championship. The first one in the sand he was incredibly fast, but in the next one in the mud he was incredibly slow (laughs), no he was not slow but he made a lot of mistakes, as it’s so different from what he’s used to. I have to say he got tired; which is usual because the Motocross rider is not used to being six or seven hours on the bike. It’s new and we talked about how it was the same for many other riders, for example like (Alex) Salvini. In his first race he couldn’t do the big uphills, so he should not worry, he has natural talent, he works hard and he will learn.” Interestingly enough Nathan took a double podium at the opening round of the championship in Morocco and another top 10 finish in Portugal last weekend.
“Taylor is a big question mark. He’s coming from the US. We have experience with him at the Six Days and SuperEnduro. He could be a surprise. For sure he’s fast and strong, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. With Nambo he is now really our top rider. He’s come back from injury, but soon I think he will be 100%. Ivan is also a very experienced rider and in the past has done a great job for KTM. The two experienced guys will help the younger riders, which can help both in different ways. Nambo has been working with Nathan and I think we have a good pace for the winning team of the future.”
The factory riders this year are racing with all new EXC factory models. It’s been a rush to get them ready for the start of the series, but Fabio explains that initial feedback has been excellent, and the energy and passion it gives to see the concrete result of everyone’s work from the development side.
“We are still working on helping the riders adapt to the new bike, but the initial feedback has been fantastic from the riders. After very few hours on the bike they were already very comfortable. It’s a very exciting thing for us to see the bike go into production, although we didn’t get so much time with it before the start of the season with the factory bikes. The riders are very impressed so far, and that’s the main thing,” concluded Farioli.
The next Enduro World Championship round is in Greece on May 21/22.