Full-tank lessons for top rookie Quartararo

'It was my first time in the middle of a group battling with a full fuel tank. I learned a lot' - Fabio Quartararo, Argentina MotoGP.
Full-tank lessons for top rookie Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo claimed his first MotoGP points with a solid eighth place and top rookie performance in Sunday's Grand Prix of Argentina.

Devastated to lose a second row start after stalling on his Qatar debut, the Petronas Yamaha rider performed admirably at the unfamiliar Termas de Rio Hondo circuit all weekend.

As high as fifth during free practice, the French teenager qualified seventh but slipped back to tenth in the race as he got his first experience of battling other MotoGP riders on a full tank of fuel.

"I am very happy with what we have done today," he said. "I was worried before coming here because we had not tested at the track, and it is a circuit at which I had always struggled in other classes, but I was always in the top ten this weekend.

"Compared to Qatar, I also started from the grid, which was good!" he smiled. "My start was not bad, but the first laps were quite difficult because it was my first time in the middle of a group battling with a full fuel tank, so it wasn't easy.

"I learned a lot because I was a little bit excited in the beginning when I was with Nakagami. I was braking as before in the warm-up or FP3 - but with 10 litres more fuel! I was going straight, so a few mistakes but I think we need to do it now and not in the end of the season.

"Later on we were able to find our pace and have a good race."

Quartararo held tenth for almost the entire grand prix, being promoted two positions on the final lap when team-mate Franco Morbidelli collided with Maverick Vinales.

"I was making a good race, picking up the bike out of the corners and taking care of the tyre. Maybe I could catch Nakagami but I said 'top ten is okay, the other guys are five-seconds behind so keep calm and enjoy the last laps on the track'," Quartararo said.

"I'm really happy about the job and our pace during this weekend."

Quartararo took the chequered flag 20-seconds from race winner Marc Marquez (Honda), but five seconds and three places ahead of next best rookie Miguel Oliveira (Tech3 KTM)

Round three later will be the last of the early 'flyaways', in Austin, Texas. It's another venue where there hasn't been any pre-season testing and Quartararo is aware COTA is tougher to learn than Termas de Rio Hondo.

"Now we will arrive in Austin, which I think is a really difficult track. This one was quite easy, you have fast corners, but in Austin - the first and second sector - I think we will have a little bit more of a struggle to learn the track," he said.

"Austin is really hard to ride, also I don't know it in MotoGP, but for sure it is one of the most difficult tracks. But we need to work as we did here, where the team said 'don’t worry in the first session if you are P20, P18, P15. Keep focus on your riding and learn the track'."

Quartararo is now tied with Joan Mir (Suzuki) in the early Rookie of the Year standings.