Fabio Quartararo is raring to go at Termas de Rio Hondo with Monster Energy Yamaha unaffected by the freight issues plaguing the paddock.
While much of pitlane is still awaiting parts, bikes or even entire pitboxes, the Yamaha factory outfit is set up and ready ahead of a now shortened two-day weekend in Argentina.
“I have everything so we could start!” Quartararo joked from Thursday’s press conference before becoming more serious on the subject at hand. “It's a shame and we really cross the finger that it arrives tomorrow. Basically will be a challenge, most of all for the mechanics because they will have a lot of work.
“Saturday will be a long day but I think for the TV will be nice to have all in row, then we will see if it's a great or not for us but at least we will have all in one day just missing one practice.”
While Quartararo has past experience of the Termas track, it hasn’t always been positive for the 22-year-old. His final season in Moto2 saw the Frenchman line up 28th on the grid and complete the action six places higher. Four years later, however, he returns as the reigning MotoGP World Champion.
“To be honest is a dream,” he said of the rapid success. “Because when you have always good moments you feel is not normal, but as soon as you think about, for me here four years ago I was on P28! I was super far and you never know if you're gonna reach MotoGP or not. From that moment to now, I think this race was the worst of my career. One of the most difficult but is the one that really made me change so I will say that now is a great memory because I can laugh about this race.”
Mandalika’s inaugural race produced a podium for the Yamaha front-runner, but while his pace at the track in preseason testing had been impressive, the unknowns of the race weekend and the late change in weather meant the result was never a given.
“When we arrive to Mandalika, they change the tarmac, they changed the rear tyre,” Quartarao commented. “So, basically, we knew that we were fast on that track, but with all the changes, you never know what to expect. We were fast in the dry condition, the pace was great but as soon as was raining, before the race you never know what to expect because we never been really fast [in wet conditions].
“Basically, the grip that was at Mandalika was crazy. It took me time to realise that I could be really fast. Let's hope to find something on the bike because basically was nothing strange, even when we had no grip, the bike was basically same in Mandalika. So we had luck that that track was really grippy but we need to find a solution on the tracks that have less grip.
“How to prepare? I don't know,” he continued. “To be honest, is a situation that I cannot do many things. You can always try to improve the rear grip of the bike but basically the grip from the track is something that is so important and our window for our bike to work is really small.
“When we have a lot of grip, the bike is working perfectly. You can feel like you can do whatever you want on your bike but as soon as you have low grip looks like you are pushing much more for less.
“So I've tried in Qatar many, many things but you need to have a little bit of luck and depends on which corner and which track. You can adapt yourself quickly or not but I cannot prepare for that.”
Qatar’s season opener had proved challenging for the defending champion, with Friday’s FP1 the first taste of the desert layout for 2022. It’s a daunting reminder as round three approaches with only two days of track time now available ahead of the 25-lap race.
“The last years in Qatar we had always at least three days of test and we had the race one or two weeks later,” he explained. "So the track is already clean, let's say, more or less and this year in Qatar was no test.
"Here we’ve never been really testing. The first time I've been on MotoGP was 2019, has been not too bad. Looking the data this morning, I was riding on a totally different way so is difficult what to expect. But for the moment I just want to give my best and see what result is possible but what is true is I will give my maximum to be more close to the front guys.”