President of the French Motorcycling Federation (FMM) since October, Sébastien Poirier is delighted with the success of Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco, first and second in the provisional standings of the MotoGP World Championship this season. If the number of new members does not take off, the successor of Jacques Bolle remains optimistic.
President, the last performances of Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco have been noticed, commented on and praised by the whole world of sport, do you consider these two riders to be standard bearers of French motorcycles?
A Federation always shines through its champions. Both a Fabio and a Johann make motorcycle sport and, more generally, motor sport shine. Even if they did not wish it, by their exceptional performances, they are standard bearers… of France but also of motorcycles in general.
It took a long time before seeing a French driver win a Grand Prix in the premier class (last July, Quartararo won against Jérez, a first for a French since Régis Laconi in 1999) enough to circulate the idea that the France is not a motorcycle country unlike Spain or Italy …
I find it hard. France is a country of motorcycles! The French Motorcycle Federation (FFM) is the first national federation in the ranking of the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Moto) ahead of Italy and Spain. France is present in all the disciplines organized by the FIM, we have a world motocross champion in 2020 with Tom Vialle, a world champion in super motorcycles with Thomas Chareyre, world champions in endurance-speed, c ‘s more than 88 titles in the last ten years.
We now have two champions who shine in the premier class but let’s not forget that Johann (Zarco) has also been titled twice in Moto2. MotoGP is a sounding board but through our events we show that we are a country of motorcycles. Watch the Enduropale du Touquet, the Bol d’Or, the 24h of Le Mans, the French Grand Prix de Vitesse, these are popular successes.
And yet, the motorcycle is struggling to find new licensees?
We are living an exceptional health crisis and like many federations we have lost it is true a lot of licensees in 2020, we are also losing some in 2021. We are today at 80,000 licensees and equity securities, it is 20,000 of less than in 2019. What is certain is that we do not ride a motorbike like we do jogging or soccer. Today, riding a motorcycle means registering with one of the Federation’s 1,280 clubs, investing in equipment, access is more complicated than for other sports.
Our job is to offer a clear vision for all these new members who dream of themselves as Johann or Fabio, that they can contact our clubs with an appetite and material to welcome them. To do this, we have started a review of the labeling system, we want to go from around fifty to around a hundred labeled clubs very quickly.
Some club presidents believe that the license is too expensive today (around 300 euros) and that this slows down young people when it comes time to register …
I don’t think so, the problem is not how much a license costs but what the Federation does with the money from these licenses. There is an important part linked to insurance, we donate a lot to these organizing clubs (1650 euros / club organizing a competition) then we also support the high level. Yes, the motorcycle license will be more expensive than the athletics, football or tennis license, but when you bring a license back over the course of a season, it does not represent anything compared to the general investment .
Do you think that the territory is sufficiently supplied with equipment?
Today we have around thirty speed tracks in the metropolitan area and around 500 motocross grounds. The objective is to be able to drive more easily on karting circuits, to ensure that our little ones can start on these tracks as in Spain or Italy. We are working on the approval of certain tracks, in particular in Provence.
It is also in the Ligue de Provence that Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco started, do you think that one of them can win the title of world champion?
I’ve watched all the Grands Prix since the start of the season and they’ve always been there except Fabio when he injured his arm. They have the speed, the racing intelligence, Johann has the experience, I am very confident. Fabio has done almost all the poles, Johann is present on the podiums. We have two French at the top of the provisional ranking and it is deserved, they owe it to themselves. I find them serene, peaceful, they are on a positive dynamic.
I am really hopeful. It would be great for us, for the motorbike, for France. MotoGP is followed in over 200 countries and when Fabio wins, France wins abroad. When the boys shine, when there is a Marseillaise a cappella, when the blue-white-red flags shake up the Spanish flags, it is a real pride.
Failing to report licensees, these two pilots seem to have made new followers, a new public is now interested in Sunday races.
Clearly. We watch a MotoGP race once and we are stung I think it’s obvious. It’s a short scheme, intensity, overtaking, French people who shine. All this means that we have a larger audience that follows speed in general.
What to be optimistic about the future?
We have a historic chance to have French champions in motorsports and we must take advantage of this, that we structure even more to ensure that there are as many young people as possible who discover motorcycles in a supervised structure. , secure and peaceful.
In a few days will the Olympic Games begin, is there a desire to see MotoGP one day on the Olympic program?
It seems to me that there has never been a mechanical sport at the Olympic Games except for power boating during the first editions (power boating was registered in demonstration sport at the Paris Olympics in 1900 then in official sport at London in 1908). It seems to me very difficult to organize a MotoGP race like an F1 race for that matter.
It’s very professional, we are far from the standard of the Games, it would mean using a speed circuit and other difficulties… I don’t think that is in their guideline. On the other hand, we are working to introduce electric trial to the program. We would like a first invitation as a demonstration sport.