Rossi tips Vinales, Quartararo for title tilt in Marquez’s absence

Valentino Rossi tips Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales to take the fight to an absent Marc Marquez in this year's 2020 MotoGP World Championship

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP [1200]

Valentino Rossi believes Yamaha counterparts Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo have a ‘good chance’ to fight for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship title in the wake of Marc Marquez’s potential injury timeout.

The 2020 MotoGP title fight appears to have been thrown wide open after Marquez’s spectacular crash during the closing stages of the Spanish MotoGP race in Jerez left him nursing a fractured humerus that will only be operated on today [Tuesday].

As such, the all-conquering Spaniard is set to miss this weekend’s Andalusian MotoGP race and is a doubt for the following races in Brno and the Red Bull Ring.

Marquez came into the season the hot favourite for a seventh MotoGP title, a status he was cementing during Sunday’s race as he scythed back into contention from an earlier mistake, lapping more than a second quicker than his rivals.

However, a protracted absence presents an opportunity for his rivals to establish a margin over him, with Quartararo – a first time race winner on Sunday – and his Yamaha counterpart Vinales leading the challenge.

Indeed, Rossi – who retried from the race with technical issues – identifies his team-mates and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso as the riders he expects to take full advantage of the unexpected situation presented to them. 

"I think what we saw in the test was also what we saw in the race; at the moment Márquez, Quartararo and Viñales are the fastest. They are riding better and their speed is another level," he said.

"Now it depends, we need to understand what happened to Márquez and how much time he needs to recover, because the championship is short, and the races are in a row.  

"It can be a good chance [for Quartararo and Vinales]. But I also don't want to forget Dovizioso, because in every track it's another story and in this year we have a lot of tracks that are good for the Ducati."

‘Red alert’ forces Valentino Rossi to stop in Jerez

Quartararo and Vinales’ 1-2 finish in Jerez was in stark contrast to Rossi’s afternoon as he laboured down the order in eighth place before a technical issue forced him to retire.

Once more restricted by the ongoing tyre issues that have dogged his performances on the Yamaha M1, he admits a lot needs to change for him to get back to competitiveness.

“The bike had a red alert and stopped - it's a shame because if not I can win, hey,” he joked"

“The problem is that for some reason, we are not able to make the tyres work properly. I have a lot of problems. 

"Everybody went with the soft rear and if everybody starts with the soft rear, if you start with the medium or the hard, you already have a big disadvantage. Because the other rubber has less grip. So to have a chance, you have to try to work with the soft rear.

"For the front, I don't want to say it was a gamble, but we tried the hard and the soft and the difference was very small. So me and Maverick tried to use the soft. Maybe with the hard we could be a bit faster, but it's not a big problem.

"My problem is coming from the rear. The front doesn't make such a difference but for next week, we have to change a lot, we these problems have happened a lot of times during the weekends and during the races. At this moment, we are not able to fix them."