Despite a difficult showing across pre-season, Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was back in the MotoGP top three as testing packed up at Portimao.
While Saturday’s running proved just as challenging for the Monster Energy rider, Sunday brought glimmers of hope, as well as an oversized rear wing. Quartararo’s 1’38.302 best, set during the closing hours of 2023 preparation, left him three tenths shy of reigning champion Pecco Bagnaia and firmly under the previous circuit record from 2021.
“Yes, we made a big improvement, especially with new tyres,” Quartararo confirmed from Portugal on Sunday evening. “We have been back a little bit with the old aero package, some settings that was working well from the past so yeah, I’m pretty happy.
“Still missing a few things but we made a massive step from yesterday and from Sepang.”
While the YZR-M1 was shown with a notable addition on the final day of testing, the Frenchman is unsure if the rear wing trialled will become a permanent fixture.
“To be honest, is quite big, was not so clear so I don’t think we’re going to use it,” he explained. “But we will have a check and see if it’s a benefit or not. Because was not worse, but didn’t feel any improvement.”
With the opening round of the season and the introduction of sprint races less than a fortnight away, Yamaha’s improvement in one lap pace brings relief but with Ducati remaining dominant how does the 2021 champion expect to fare when the lights go out?
“Much more close than yesterday for sure but we are not ready yet,” Quartararo admitted. “We are still missing a few things that first of all, we made I think more than half of the job today.
“For me the grip from today will be much better than the race weekend so we will see. We are going to get our best for sure, we are not giving up.”