Quartararo: I wasn’t following, it wasn’t luck…

Fabio Quartararo is delighted with his late time attack, which saw him rise to third on the second night of MotoGP testing in Qatar.
Quartararo: I wasn’t following, it wasn’t luck…

Fabio Quartararo has said his stunning third fastest time on the second night of MotoGP testing in Qatar didn’t arrive by chance, as the impressive class rookie continued to turn heads aboard the Sepang Racing Team Yamaha M1.

The 19-year old was showing inside the top ten for most of the night, before a late three-lap time attack resulted in his fastest time of 1m 54.908s - 0.6s quicker than team-mate Franco Morbidelli and 0.9s up on Yamaha veteran Valentino Rossi.

Quartararo stated he was on track alone at the time with new tyres, and successfully “disconnected my brain” to make the most of the added grip available. Each day, he feels, brings gains on the brakes, as his adaption continues apace.

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“Today has been the first time that when I put the new tyre in, I disconnected my brain to say, OK, now it's time to make a time attack. And we made three fast laps, so I'm really happy, because it wasn't following one rider, or just by luck. It was three laps in a row, riding alone, and reaching a really good lap time.

“Everyday I am improving on the braking point, and today we made another step. But also working with old tires, my pace was quite good. And when we put the new tyre, I was immediately one second faster.

“So I think it's working with old tyres, and when we put the new tyre, there is a big difference of grip and there is where I feel the difference.

“I'm improving every time I'm on the bike, so I think we will learn even more after tomorrow [Monday]. For sure it's a little bit on the braking, a little bit on picking up the bike, on acceleration, so it's a package, so we need to improve everything a little bit.”

Understandably, Quartararo was hesitant to make any judgements on how the first round of the year – now less than two weeks away – could pan out.

“First of all, make a start with everybody together,” he said. “Now we make practice starts, but I'm a lone, so it's quite easy. So yes, I think we need to make a full weekend, with FP1, FP2 etc, the race, to be really clear and see exactly what a MotoGP race is.

“So we will need to have to wait until the 10th March for that, but I really can't wait until we're on the grid.”

The one-time grand prix winner’s smooth, laconic riding style seems tailor made for the M1, a bike still suited to Jorge Lorenzo’s gentle embrace. Quartararo said this approach has come naturally to him.

“I remember in the past when I saw Jorge, he was really smooth on the bike, and I think we need to be smooth on this bike, also, I think who was on this bike was aggressive, but smooth at the same time. So it's difficult to explain, but I try to be smooth in every movement I make on the bike.

“It feels natural. Maybe when I made my fastest lap time, I was a little bit more aggressive and not so natural on the bike, but yes, it's a natural position on the bike.”

With Francesco Bagnaia stunning the paddock by setting the second quickest time at the Sepang test, and Joan Mir another to consistently impress, Quartararo acknowledges this year’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ fight will be hotly contested.

“For sure it will be really difficult,” he said. “We know everybody is going fast, so for sure it will be a really good battle, and I think the goal of the four riders is to be rookie of the year.”

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