Quartararo builds Rookie lead, learns from Petrucci

'Today I learned a lot from riding behind Petrucci' - Fabio Quartararo, Austin MotoGP.
Quartararo builds Rookie lead, learns from Petrucci

A best yet seventh place at COTA on Sunday has propelled Fabio Quartararo into an early lead in the 2019 MotoGP Rookie of the Year standings.

The Petronas Yamaha SRT rider was left pointless after stalling in Qatar, but has finished as top newcomer in both Argentina (eighth) and now Austin.

Quartararo's 17 points are more than double the tally of next-best Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) heading into the start of the European season.

The young Frenchman, who turns 20 next Saturday, didn’t get off the line well at COTA on Sunday, losing three places on the opening four laps, but recovered to spend most of the race behind factory Ducati's Danilo Petrucci.

"At first, Pol Espargaro, Petrucci and I got in each other's way and we lost the group ahead of us that contained Dovizioso and Morbidelli," Quartararo said.

"However, the pace was very good and although on the last five laps I had to slow down, I'm very happy with the result. We've improved on the result from Argentina and I was the best rookie again.

"In addition, today I learned a lot from riding behind Petrucci. Whenever I'm on track with the best riders in the world, I'm learning. That's also very positive. I'm looking forward to more!"

Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg said it's mission accomplished heading to Europe.

"With Fabio, our goal is the rookie of the year award, and now he is leading the standings for that, so this is a very good moment for us," commented the Dutchman. "Hopefully we can continue to look even higher up the order and continue on this positive path at Jerez."

Quartararo is tenth in the overall championship standings, one point above team-mate Franco Morbidelli, who was a career best fifth at COTA on Sunday.