Despite a 30 point lead in the standings, Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo heads to Motorland Aragon as the underdog this weekend.
It’s a strange description for the reigning MotoGP Champion and current series leader but the Alcañiz circuit has not been kind to the 23-year-old come race day, with a highest placing of fifth scored in his rookie year in 2019.
"Yeah it’s a tough track,” Quartararo admitted on Thursday. “We’ve been pretty fast every time here in practice and qualifying, but in the race we’ve never had a good result. We know what the problem is, especially in the last two years, so we will try to figure out how to not have it this year. Sector four will be a tough one for us. Not the track but last sector is something that we suffer, because is acceleration from first gear to sixth. Then also the last corner is a corner especially I struggle so last sector is a tough one for us.
“In general, last year, I like I said before, I think we are pretty fast but we need to understand how to reduce our problems in the race, with that we can manage a great race, but last year was really tough.”
Fresh from the two-day Misano test, the Frenchman is feeling a renewed confidence in his YZR-M1.
“I wish I could put the '23 engine for this year but it's not possible, but we will have the new chassis that I feel was improvement in some area. Maybe a little bit worse in some but I think we will give a try of tomorrow - don't know if FP1 or FP2 - of trying this new chassis and see how is working but I'm feeling quite confident.
“I think the Misano test was important, not for what we tested but after the Misano race everybody was a little bit down but I think the test brought a lot of smiles to everybody and a lot of confidence. So it was a really good test and a really good moment to bring everyone up."
It’s a confidence he needs to harness in the final six races as title-rival Pecco Bagnaia continues his charge towards the top after four consecutive victories on the Ducati.
"Calm or worried, it’s the same situation,” Quartararo said of his approach to the weekend ahead. “It’s still 30 points. What I need to do is do my best which is what I’m doing, put myself on the limit and see how the next ones go.”