'Motivation, stress, pressure' - Quartararo heads home

'There will be a lot of fans at the French GP and that will give me extra motivation. It also generates more stress and pressure as it's my home Grand Prix' - Fabio Quartararo, French MotoGP.
'Motivation, stress, pressure' - Quartararo heads home

France's newest MotoGP star, rookie Fabio Quartararo, will get his first taste of real home adoration at the packed Le Mans round this weekend.

The youngest ever rider to take a premier-class pole position, the 20-year-old looked on target for a debut podium until being cruelly denied by a broken quickshifter at Jerez.

It was his second major blow after stalling in Qatar, but - after the initial heartbreak - Quartararo again rebounded in style.

The Petronas Yamaha rider beat his own official lap record to top the post-race Jerez test and will now hope to follow in the footsteps of countryman and satellite M1 predecessor Johann Zarco, who took a debut MotoGP podium at Le Mans during his rookie 2017 campaign.

"We can only draw positive conclusions from the Spanish GP," insisted Quartararo. "We took pole position, we were fighting for the podium and on Monday we were the fastest at the test whilst we were trying out many things for the coming races.

"It's good to go to Le Mans after a great weekend like we had at Jerez. There will be a lot of fans at the French GP and that will give me extra motivation. It also generates more stress and pressure as it's my home Grand Prix, but in the end it's good to have a race where the fans are all behind me.

"I think the Yamaha YZR-M1 will be well suited to Le Mans, because in recent years Yamaha have done well there. I believe we can get a good result. We will do our best and work in the same way as we did at Jerez. I'm looking forward to the race."

Quartararo, who continues to lead the Rookie of the Year standings despite the Spanish DNF, took his first grand prix pole position at Le Mans in 2015 and was a winner at the track in the 2014 CEV event.

His best race result since is a sixth in the 2016 Moto3 round.

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli, who started alongside Quartararo at Jerez, dropped back from second to seventh in the race but also set a high pace at the test with third on the timesheets.

"We go to Le Mans in very good shape. After a great weekend at Jerez, we were able to continue developing the bike during Monday’s test. We found solutions that could help us at the next few races," said Morbidelli, a Le Mans winner during his 2017 Moto2 title season.

"Le Mans has quite different characteristics from Jerez, so we will see what we have to work on.

"After four races, we are probably where we were hoping to be, fighting for the Top Independent Team Rider honour, but we are hungry for more. I think that after the Spanish GP the chances of us getting a podium are becoming more real, but we still have some work ahead of us, so we must keep fighting for it."

Morbidelli is tenth in the world championship, with Quartararo 13th.