Yamaha boss EXCLUSIVE - How does Quartararo compare to Rossi and Stoner?

Although reluctant to directly compare Fabio Quartararo with the likes of Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis has no doubt that the Frenchman is an ‘extraordinary and exceptional’ MotoGP talent.
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 4 November
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 4 November

While Quartararo won three races and fought to retain the world championship until the final round of last season, ultimately losing out to Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, the next best M1 was team-mate and former title runner-up Franco Morbidelli in 19th.

The kind of night-and-day difference in performance between Quartararo and other riders on the same bike had only previously been seen with the likes of Rossi (Yamaha), Stoner (Ducati) and Marquez (Honda) in the ‘MotoGP’ era.

Jarvis was one of the key figures that helped tempt Rossi from Honda to Yamaha in 2004, leading to instant title success.

But while Rossi took 25 victories between 2004-2007, Jorge Lorenzo’s debut win in 2008 was the first time a Yamaha rider other than Rossi had stood on the top step since Max Biaggi in 2002.

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In other words, Rossi was Yamaha’s only MotoGP race winner across four seasons, a feat almost matched by Casey Stoner at Ducati from 2007-2010 (Loris Capirossi claimed one win in 2007).

Injuries interrupted Marquez’s victory dominance for Honda, but he was the only RCV winner for almost three seasons: 2019 and 2021, with just a single win by Cal Crutchlow in 2018.

Although Yamaha’s only winner since Maverick Vinales at Qatar 2021, Quartararo still has some way to go in those terms.

But not even Rossi, Lorenzo, Stoner or Marquez finished a MotoGP season with anything like Quartararo’s +17 place championship advantage over the next rider on the same brand of bike.

Stoner was +10 places at Ducati in 2008, Marquez +8 for Honda in 2019, Rossi +6 at Yamaha in 2004 and 2008, and Lorenzo +3 for Yamaha in 2011 and 2012.

Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 5 November
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 5 November

So should Quartararo’s achievements put him within that special group of MotoGP names?

“I'm always very cautious to compare one rider with another era as such,” Jarvis told Crash.net.

“I remember in the back in the day there were the so-called four aliens [Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa] on a different level to the others, winning everything between them and that's not the case anymore.

“Now there are probably 8 to 10 riders that are in the game regularly and you see many different race winners now. I think that’s because the relative performance of all of the bikes has become much more equal.”

The change to a single tyre supplier (2009) and electronics (2016) plus the use of results-based technical concessions has helped reduce the performance gap between not only different MotoGP brands, but also factory and satellite teams.

However that levelling arguably makes the difference between Quartararo and the other Yamahas last season even more impressive.

“There are always extraordinary and exceptional talents and I would just say that Fabio is definitely one of those,” Jarvis explained. “He's a guy that has something else, some ‘plus alpha’ [something special].”

Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP race, Malaysian MotoGP, 23 October
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP race, Malaysian MotoGP, 23 October

‘Fabio’s great on the bike. And off the bike’

Jarvis added: “Some people just have it and some don't. For me, Casey was one of those, for instance. And if you ask most riders, even if you asked Valentino - another rider with extraordinary capabilities - back in the day, sometimes everyone was like ‘Casey Stoner, he's just out there!’

“That's sometimes bravado, skill, lightning reaction times, understanding of the bike… There are many, many, many different elements and [Quartararo] definitely has those.

“Like many of the top riders, being able to compartmentalise things as well. When it gets to that really important moment, just being able to block out all the rest and get on with the job.”

While the likes of Morbidelli, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow have been quick to credit Quartararo for being able to put the M1 within its narrow performance range last year, Jarvis said the off-track aspect shouldn’t be forgotten.

“I would say Fabio’s great on the bike. And also off the bike. Off the bike, we must not forget. Some riders have the ability to get a group around them to gel, and to work together as a team, and to make things happen.

“Rossi is a great example of that, and also Marquez, in my opinion. If you look at Marc’s group within HRC, they're really close and really tight. And definitely Fabio has that. He's great with his crew and his team. They have a lot of confidence with each other.

“So it’s working towards the common goal and then using his unique riding skills, that's something special.”

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha)
Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha)

‘I hope he will stay with Yamaha for many years’

Although Quartararo already has four MotoGP seasons under his belt, at only 23 years old he, like Bagnaia (25), is yet to reach the peak of his powers.

For Jarvis, the biggest step so far taken by the #20 came just before his debut season at the factory team, as he rebounded from winning three races but then slipping to eighth in the 2020 world championship for SRT.

“I think [the 2021] title gave him a personal peace of mind to have achieved his goal, a certain confidence, certain maturity,” Jarvis said.

“But we really saw the step more I would say in the year before he became champion. In that winter he definitely made a step and a mental change in his approach towards racing.

“He became a calmer, more rational person. Less prone to anger and frustration and so forth. He still has that, because any racer has that anger and frustration if you don't get your performance, but you can then compartmentalise that.

“You can express it but then park it and get on with the job. And that's a great skill that he has as well. Definitely, I would say in the last 18 months, he's matured as a person.

“I hope he will stay with Yamaha for many years and I believe he has the potential to be world champion multiple times.”

Quartararo has signed to remain at Yamaha until the end of 2024. With no satellite team, team-mate Morbidelli will be the only other M1 rider on the grid this season.

Lin Jarvis and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha)
Lin Jarvis and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha)

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