Why did Fabio Quartararo drop from 1st to 13th in the Spanish MotoGP?

Extreme arm pump pain slows Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo from 1st to 13th during the Spanish MotoGP in Jerez, it is revealed

Fabio Quartararo - Yamaha MotoGP 2021

Fabio Quartararo has revealed extreme arm pump was the reason for his extraordinary slide down the order during the Spanish MotoGP, costing him an almost certain victory in Jerez.

The Frenchman came into the fourth round as championship leader following wins in Qatar and Portimao and looked on course for a hat-trick after recovering from a tardy start to take the lead on lap four and establish a comfortable margin over Jack Miller.

However, the lead slumped over the course of two laps mid-way through the race, despite there being no obvious issue with his factory Yamaha.


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Quartararo persevered but would find himself picked off by the chasing pack to leave him 13th at the chequered under a shroud of question marks.

Speaking with the media afterwards, it would transpire arm-pump had set in, leaving him powerless to do anything more than ride to the finish. It has since been confirmed he will be checked by doctors today [Monday] and will likely miss the Jerez post-race test.

"I had a big issue with the arm, so sad because I was feeling really easy in the front," he said. "We had amazing pace this weekend and then I just had no more power on the arm. Just so disappointed about it.

"But I fought until the end, even if it was only for 3 points."

"Last year in Portimao was really bad [for arm pump], but this year it was perfect. And all the years I've been here in Jerez was good," he said. "2020 here was perfect, zero problems. Not even a small pain and this year was the total opposite.

"I had to brake with four fingers and normally I brake with one. I couldn't go full gas on the straight. But no explanation [for the arm pump]. I'm training the same, I'm feeling even better on the bike and… I don't know."

What is arm pump?

It is a term used regularly in motorcycle racing and one that can strike even the greatest, fitted riders - but what exactly is arm pump and what brings it on?

In short, it is a swelling in the muscles of the arm due to excessive exercise that causes significant pain and swelling - in this case around the forearm.

Anyone who rides a motorcycle will recognise which muscles in the arm receive a work out when on the bike, so multiply that by the forces that inevitably come from riding a MotoGP machine and you can almost imagine the strain. The pain doesn’t remain once you stop what you’re doing, but that’s not exactly helpful mid-way through a race.

Quartararo’s rivals can certainly empathise. Only last month Jack Miller, who ultimately won the Spanish MotoGP as Quartararo slipped back, underwent surgery to relieve the pressure that can build to create arm pump and it is likely his title rival will be forced to do the same.

It’s a common procedure and proof it is was needed of just how hard the MotoGP riders push when in a race, even when they’re cruising out front.