Quartararo: Spectacular power, incredible brakes...

2019 rookie Fabio Quartararo talks first MotoGP impressions with the Petronas Sepang Yamaha team.
Quartararo: Spectacular power, incredible brakes...

Fabio Quartararo was the most surprising of the four 2019 MotoGP rookie signings.

The young Frenchman had gone almost two and a half years without a podium when he snatched a shock debut victory, for Speed Up in the Moto2 class, at Catalunya in June.

Two races later and Quartararo had a MotoGP contract in his pocket, being picked by the new Petronas Sepang Yamaha team to join Franco Morbidelli, after Dani Pedrosa elected to end his racing career.

"The first time I spoke about it with my manager was on the Monday after the Dutch TT," said Quartararo, who had taken his second podium in a row at Assen, but would later lose a victory at Motegi due to a technical infringement.

"At that time, he just told me that there might be the possibility of moving up to MotoGP. From that point we took steps towards the dream every day, and it came true at Sachsenring, where we agreed a deal with the team.

“Honestly, I didn’t think that I would get such a good opportunity to move up to MotoGP this season.

"But once the first contact had been made, we knew that this team would be immediately fighting to be the best satellite team, that it would have a very professional technical staff and a very positive atmosphere, so I had no doubts in accepting the challenge.”

Tipped as the next Marc Marquez when he made his Moto3 debut as the reigning CEV champion in 2015, only to lose his way after splitting from Emilio Alzamora's team at the end of that season, Quartararo has made mature progress during his four days of MotoGP testing.

23rd fastest (+2.4s) during his debut on an M1 at Valencia, Quartararo climbed to 16th (+1.3s) on day two. He then began the Jerez test also in 16th (+1.4s), rising to twelfth (+0.8s) on day two.

“It was a very strange feeling. I was a bit anxious, I didn’t feel comfortable," he said of his first lap on the Yamaha MotoGP bike. "Once I got onto the straight and was able to feel the power that these bikes have, that was… spectacular! The bike was still wheelieing in sixth gear. That was one of the most fun straights of my life!

“Even though I was expecting it, the power still surprised me, especially over the opening few laps. You get up to 300km/h very quickly. Little by little I got used to the speed, although I still have some way to go.

"But definitely the most striking thing was the carbon brakes. You get back down to 50km/h much quicker than on a Moto2 yet the braking points are virtually the same, it’s incredible.”

Despite such challenges, Quartararo - second fastest rookie behind Francesco Bagnaia at Jerez - said he has no major flaws to fix in his riding style.

“Along with the technical staff we analysed how I am riding the bike and the truth is there is not much we need to change, which surprised me. I know that I need to be faster in corner entry, but… little by little.

"The first tests went very well, I felt very comfortable with the whole team. I am looking forward to getting the winter break over with so we can get back to work together.”

That comeback will be at the team's home ground in Malaysia during the opening 2019 test, in February.

“Of course, we already saw this year at the Sepang International Circuit how the fans got behind the Malaysian riders during the Grand Prix. We are excited to go back there now and feel their support, to be able to ride in front of them with the new colours on our bikes.

"It will be a very special occasion for the team.”