Yamaha commits to supplying A-spec 2020 M1 for Fabio Quartararo

Rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo will be on the 2020 MotoGP World Championship grid aboard an A specification Yamaha M1, it is confirmed

Valentino Rossi, Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo will be brought into line with his Yamaha counterparts for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship season by riding A-spec machinery next year, it has been confirmed.

The rookie revelation has made a huge impression in his first season of MotoGP racing, collecting six podiums and four pole positions with the new Petronas SRT satellite team, but doing so using an updated version of a 2018-specification M1, dubbed B spec (or A- spec)

As such, Quartararo was always expected to be upgraded to an ‘A-spec’ package for 2020 as a reward, but this has now been confirmed ahead of Petronas SRT’s home Malaysian MotoGP round. Both he and team-mate Franco Morbidelli will run the same machine in 2020.

“It has been an incredible first season for Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team in MotoGP,” said team manager Razlan Razali. “We are very grateful to Petronas for their commitment and Yamaha for their faith in us to deliver. Both Franco and Fabio have contributed enormously to our success this year and having both riders on equal machinery will enable us to achieve even better things. We are particularly proud to be able to make this announcement in Malaysia, the home of both Petronas and the team.”

“We are very happy to confirm that we have reached agreement here in Sepang for the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team to field two A-spec YZR-M1 bikes for the 2020 season,” added Yamaha’s Lin Jarvis. “The performances of both Franco and Fabio have been excellent this year and this shows by the achievements of the riders and team in the various championship rankings they have achieved thus far both individually and as a team. 

“The support of Petronas to this new team has been crucial in permitting the team to make a further step forward for 2020 with two A-spec bikes. Yamaha commit to providing the team and the riders our best possible support to enable them to make further progress in 2020 with race wins as well as hopefully achieving the best Independent rider and Team crowns.”

Fabio Quartararo goes toe-to-toe with Valentino Rossi and co.

While the news Quartararo is upgrading to the same (in effect) package as Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales for the 2020 MotoGP season is hardly a surprise, it doesn’t disguise the significance of the gesture.

Supplying a quartet of A-spec Yamahas represents a large undertaking for any manufacturer, but such has been Quartararo’s performance this year the Frenchman simply couldn’t be overlooked for the chance to be given the best bike to fight up front in 2020.

While this doesn’t mean Petronas SRT will run ‘exactly’ the same machines as Rossi and Vinales, the differences will be limited to whom gets to run new parts first. Even so, Quartararo has inserted himself right into Yamaha’s future, which means it would no surprise to see him elevated into this hierarchy among the factory representatives.

As Razali has pointed out in the past though, upgrading Quartararo to a prime specification Yamaha won’t necessarily make him faster. Indeed, his affinity with his current M1 is based on his aggressive cornering and braking abilities, a trait that the 2018 M1 suits his riding style, and with both Rossi and Vinales pushing for more power for 2020, he may need to adapt away from that. If this is considered a risk, it’s definitely a calculated one though.

This inevitably places pressure on Rossi and Vinales for 2020. Quartararo will be toe-to-toe with them on the same machinery, which means a repeat performance next season puts him directly in line for a switch to the factory bike in 2021 at their potential behest.

It also means there will be more ‘A-spec’ machines on a MotoGP grid that ever before, with Yamaha, Ducati and KTM all supplying their satellite teams with a pair of current bikes. Unusually, Honda opted against this strategy by donating LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami the title-winning machine of Marc Marquez for 2020.

It means, together with the Avintia Racing team running a pair of Ducati GP19’s next year, only three ‘older’ machines will make up the 22-strong grid in 2020.