Kiara Fontanesi became Italy and Yamaha’s first FIM Women’s World Champion with her podium finish at Matterley Basin nearly two weeks ago. ‘Fonta’ was clearly a special talent from a very young age. Kiara received her first bike at the age of three as a way of placating a little girl with a motocrossing older brother in a close-knit family. The hunger for speed was shared with a balance beam as she trained as an artistic gymnast in her formative years but the desire to jump, race and win finally won outright. She set tongues wagging on the national scene, went to the USA in 2007 and tasted victory and then claimed her first Grand Prix chequered flag in the sand of Lierop at the final race of 2009, just her first season in the FIM series.
Since then Kiara has blossomed into a major power of women’s motocross. 2012 has been nothing short of a dominant campaign for the fun loving teenager from Parma. Equipped with her YRRD (Yamaha Rinaldi Research and Development) powered YZ250F Fontanesi has won five of the seven rounds run so far and has finished in the top three in all fourteen of the Grand Prix motos she has raced this season, earning a spectacular ten triumphs. The eighteen year old still has one more round of the eight race series to contest in ‘12 and will also travel to the USA to line-up alongside America’s finest in the final appointment of the AMA WMX at Lake Elsinore in mid-September. The number ‘8’ YZ250F rider took a few minutes from her busy schedule to catch-up…
2012 has been pretty special hasn’t it?
Yes! I’m really happy with my season but it has not been perfect. I didn’t win in France! It has been great what I’m doing. I think the area in which I have made the biggest difference compared to past seasons is through gaining more race experience each year and knowing what to do on the track and in different situations. The first year in the world championship was not easy, everything was different and new, even the language! I started my learning process in 2009 and I’m growing up and getting more mature and better on the bike every year.
You seem to come from a very supportive family…
I think I am lucky to always have my parents with me. Not because they make my racing happen – I can do that thanks to people like Monster Energy and Yamaha – but they are a big help. The support from a family is so important I think. It is a unit all pulling and working together. It is a very strong thing.
You had a young start, but it wasn’t really a ‘start’ was it?
Not really. It was all about fun. I got my first bike at three and a half. My parents said that it was for when I was a bit older and that started to make me cry! I didn’t want to wait and I really wanted to try, so on the first day they let me ride and I was already able to do it on my own, without any training wheels. It was something that came naturally and I think I have MX and off-road in my blood. I never needed lessons or people telling me what I should do on the bike. There was never any coaching or instruction and I just picked it up fast. I decided to do it for fun when I was younger and step-by-step it became my job and career.
So how many years with Yamaha now?
This is the fourth year.
Has the 2012 YZ250F been important to you?
Yeah. I think every year I received something from Michele Rinaldi and YRRD that helped a lot. The bike itself has changed quite a bit, especially from 2011 to 2012. The YRRD kit boosted the power right across the range and made the bike faster. The ‘12 model had a new frame which pushed the back of the bike up more and meant that it turned better and quicker. It was not a huge change but it was an important one. I really like the bike – not because I’m a Yamaha rider – but because I get on well with every part of it; the engine, chassis and suspension that Fabio from the Monster Energy Yamaha factory team has prepared for me this year.
I say to Michele now “if I’m here then it’s because of you”. In 2008 and 2009 he asked my Dad if I wanted to ride in the world championship. It was the right call at the right time. He is like a second Dad to me and it’s because of him I’m in the world championship. Year by year he could watch my development and we never did bad things or made bad moves and the support was always good.
How do you feel about Women’s motocross now?
I think I’m the only one who likes to be racing with the MX3 series compared to being with MX1! This is only the fourth year of the championship for me and I’ve been two years with MX1 and two with MX3. Perhaps it is still too early for me to say, but what I feel is that when we raced with MX1 nobody was really watching. Even if we were close to the teams and riders and the big stars of the sport we were just a sideshow, the last thing anyone thinks about. With MX3 the paddock is more like a family and there is more attention from the organisers, fans and media. The relationship with the organisers is good and everybody can talk.