MotoGP

Pressure mounting on Valentino Rossi as Fabio Quartararo looms

Another difficult race for Valentino Rossi in the Thailand MotoGP is blamed on tyre wear as he comes under pressure from Fabio Quartararo in standings

Valentino Rossi has reiterated that Yamaha needs to get to the bottom of the tyre wear issues on his M1 as he suffered a disappointing Thailand MotoGP to finish well down on his stablemates.

On the day Marc Marquez clinched his sixth MotoGP in seven seasons – leaving him just a single crown shy of Rossi’s premier class career total – the Italian came home a distant eighth in Buriram, more than 19secs adrift of the leaders.

Crucially for him, he finished well behind all three of his Yamaha counterparts, not least Fabio Quartararo who took the fight for victory right down to the wire against Marquez on the satellite Petronas SRT, referred to as an ‘A- spec’ machine.

Blaming the tyres for his drop off in pace – as he did in previous races – though Rossi admits Marquez, Quartararo and Vinales were too fast for him this weekend, he was disappointed to fade again. 

"Unfortunately, the race was very similar to the last races,” he told reporters, including sister publication Crash.net, after the race. “After some laps, very early, I start to suffer with rear grip. I lose grip, lose performance and I have to slow down. It was another difficult race."

“It is a shame more because this morning with the used tyre after 19 laps I did some good lap times, so I expected to do a quite good race. Unfortunately with the same tyre, but new, in the race we suffer.

"More-or-less it's always the same. In the last races we have always that type of problem."

"Every time I am on the edge of the tyre I suffer very much. Silverstone was good but anyway also in qualifying it's not fantastic, but especially in the race we suffer.

"But anyway, we have another four races, we made a long meeting here and we will try something next time in Japan to be more competitive to the end of the season.

"We have something to do because today sincerely the first three were faster, but in the warm-up I was good with the used tyre. So I thought that for example I can fight for fourth with Dovi and Rins. But unfortunately not."

Valentino Rossi vs Fabio Quartararo: Master vs Apprentice

The result means Rossi is now only two points clear of Quartararo with sixth in the overall standings, while factory team-mate Maverick Vinales – who finished third – is 18 points ahead of him having ascended to fourth overall at the expense of Danilo Petrucci.

Should Vinales remain ahead by the end of the season and Quartararo leapfrogs him too, it’d be the first time in Rossi’s career he has finished as the third best-placed Yamaha rider.

The slip in form comes at a crucial time for Yamaha, which seemed willing to adjust the ethos of the M1 to better suit Rossi’s riding style on the back of his demands to tackle Honda and Ducati. However, just as Rossi gave a lukewarm response to the 2020 Yamaha M1 prototype, Quartararo’s has taken another step forward on the current machine having found his level by capitalising on the M1's evident strengths under braking and cornering.

Since Brno, Quartararo has scored 76 points to Rossi’s 65, including the non-score he suffered with a crash at Silverstone. Vinales, however, leads both on 78 points from the second-half so far.

Indeed, the rise of Quartararo could shift perception towards giving more prioritising the young pretender, not least as he is hot favourite to replace Rossi if the Italian decides to hang up his helmet at the end of the 2020 season when his current contract expires. 

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