Franco Morbidelli's inspiring message on his special Misano MotoGP helmet design resulted in a phone call from none other than film director Spike Lee.

Lee's movie 'Do the Right Thing' provided the main theme for Morbidelli's helmet, which the Italian took to a brilliant debut MotoGP victory in the opening Misano round.

"When I decided to make the special helmet for this event, I wanted to deal with a big matter and a big topic, which is racism. But I wanted to also hug the whole 2020 year because 2020 started in a real bad way and many, many not likeable things happened in the world," Morbidelli explained.

"But we are trying to put on a show for the audience and we are trying to make the audience feel good, so I wanted to treat this topic with some lightness, not being fully straight or not being heavy.

"There is a Spike Lee movie that treats this matter in a great way. It’s called Do The Right Thing. I suggest it to all of you. There is this character that at one point of the movie just says, stop all the BS and stop hating each other, and time out. He calls it 'time out'.

"So I decided to put myself in his shoes and in his clothes and stamp myself on the helmet.

"Also I wanted to send an equality message in different languages because I think it’s one of the most important things to remember, that we are all the same. The virus reminds us of this in a bad way, but we need to remember it also for the good things.

"So it was I think the best message to send and in the lightest way possible."

Spike Lee thought the same and, just days later, gave Morbidelli a call following Friday practice for the second Misano event.

"Aldo Drudi, my [helmet] designer, told one of his friends, Mark Neale. He said to Spike about my helmet. So Spike decided to call me. I call him Spike because he told me to call him Spike. When I answered the phone, I said ‘Hello Mr Lee’. He told me, ‘Call me Spike’. Now I can call him Spike!" Morbidelli said.

"It was a wonderful pleasure to speak with him and understand what a wonderful person he is and understand his great passion for sport and great passion in general.

"I’m sorry I wasn’t able to bring his helmet to win again. But it was a wonderful story already; I won with it last weekend.

"For sure I’ll send him one of the helmets and he’ll have a nice memory of this whole experience.

"I’m not going to use [this design] again. I am superstitious but I am also respectful of this wonderful story. I think that such beautiful things need to have a beginning and an end. You cannot bring it forever."

The Spike Lee episode was a rare highpoint of an otherwise difficult second weekend at Morbidelli's home event, in which he battled a stomach sickness throughout, then was caught up in Aleix Espargaro's first lap fall in the race.

True to the message of optimism on his helmet, Morbidelli - who recovered from 19th and last to 9th – said afterwards:

"I’m happy with this weekend because I’m fifth in the championship, did a great comeback and spoke with Spike Lee. I could’ve crashed in Aleix’s accident and I didn’t. I’m sick, but not so sick. It could’ve rained, but it didn’t! Everything could’ve been worse and it wasn’t, so I’m happy about that."

All of which means the Petronas Yamaha star starts the second half of the world championship, in Barcelona this weekend, 20-points from title leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).

"As Vettel says, 'I have two balls, but not one of them is crystal'!" Morbidelli joked of predicting the title chase. "That’s the only thing I can say about the championship. I’m just looking race-by-race."

Of this weekend's Catalunya event, Morbidelli said: "The layout is nice, flowy and challenging. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful tracks in the calendar and I usually do quite well there. So I am looking forward to riding there again."

Team-mate Fabio Quartararo is joint second in the world championship with Maverick Vinales.

 

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