Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo heads to Motegi still in charge of the 2022 MotoGP standings as the flyaway action prepares.
Battered and a little burnt from his Aragon lap one clash with Repsol Honda’s returning Marc Marquez last time out, the reigning champion is eager to gain ground at a track not visited since his rookie year in 2019 but one at which he instantly shone.
“Today I had my first training so was okay,” Quartararo said of his Aragon injuries. “It’s just like abrasions so it’s a little bit painful but I think on the bike is not going to be a big issue. For sure it’s going to be burning, especially on the first session but I think it’s not going to be a problem riding the bike.
“At the end, in every track we are competitive,” he continued on the YZR-M1’s progress this season. “If you check also Red Bull Ring, also Aragon, at the end I never, even in the past I’ve never been competitive there and this time I had a pretty strong pace.
“Unfortunately it ends quite soon my race but I think on the pace there is no track that we are not fast.
“But of course then there is also some circumstances that we are struggling to overtake. I think this track is quite good because I’ve been super strong here in the past and I’m looking forward to be back because I have some really good memories here.
“I think also in 2019 the grip level here was really high,” he reflected on the previous visit. “I remember the race with Marc and Dovi, they were super fast, so the more grip there is on the track, better it is for us.
“Mandalika was super good so I think now there is no reason to have kind of fear about having a wet race. Of course I’m enjoying more in the dry but I think there is not a big issue if it’s on the rain.”
Quartararo is five races away from defending his MotoGP title but with his two main rivals now just 17 points adrift, the fight is certainly hotting up.
“At the end what you can do?” Quartararo questioned. “I think right now, you know with 17 points around all three, I will not say is like the beginning of the championship that everyone is pushing like hell but I think all three, and including Enea, want the championship. But especially having only 17 points between us three, makes that we will push ourselves to the maximum and at the end I think is nice.
“To be honest, I always try to race at my maximum and I think this is a lesson I learned from 2020, that with Joan [Mir] every time I gain one point to him I was happy. Last year, even when I had 30/40 points I was still trying to fight for the victory and give my maximum so this year was the same. I never had a lot, a lot of advantage but of course I will give my 100 per cent during the last five races, but I was already giving my 100 per cent before, so in terms of riding I think it will not really change.”
One new development since the Championship’s previous visit to Japan is the introduction of the ride height device.
“Yes, I think it will change quite a lot because I think at this track we will use more than once,” the 23-year-old explained. “Looking the weather, for sure is going to be tricky but imagine is on the dry, I think is going to be much more fast the lap time. First of all, because I think everybody more or less improve quite a lot, riders, bikes and I think in this track, the holeshot device I think is one of the tracks that actually you feel a lot but in the wet I don’t think it’s gonna make a big change.”