Keith Huewen: Fabio Quartararo is the Marc Marquez of Yamaha

Is MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo having as big an impact on Yamaha as Marc Marquez did at Honda in recent years, Keith Huewen certainly thinks so.
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha MotoGP Portimao
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha MotoGP Portimao

Sunday’s Portuguese MotoGP once again highlighted just how good the reigning world champion is. 

Quartararo, who started from fifth, made a brilliant get-away as he slotted into second place come the end of lap one. 

Two laps later and P1 was his after getting through on Mir at turn one. The two champions from 2020 and last season were expected to fight it out all race, but after pumping eight tenths into the Suzuki rider in just one lap, a two-way fight quickly became a wish for everyone watching, not a reality. 

Quartararo grew his lead to over six seconds - eventually won by 5.4 seconds - in what was easily the most dominant performance by any rider this year. 

Shades of 2013-19 Marc Marquez in Quartararo’s performance?

Speaking on the weekly MotoGP podcast, Grand Prix expert Keith Huewen had very high praise for Quartararo, in fact, he believes the Frenchman is masking big problems at Yamaha to the same extent that Marquez did for years at Honda.

"I said it on Twitter earlier on in the weekend, basically Fabio Quartararo is the Marc Marquez of Yamaha," said Huewen. 

"Without Fabio Quartararo Yamaha would be in the deepest doo-doo. They’re just not performing in the hands of anyone else. 

"It’s Quartararo who is cutting the mustard every time. Whatever the reason, he manages to make that package work when it’s possible to make it work, just like Marquez used to do with Honda. There was no one who could consistently get the results that Marquez could on the Honda; it's pretty much still the same. But Honda are just a little bit at sea at the moment."

Fabio Quartararo, Portuguese MotoGP race, 24 April
Fabio Quartararo, Portuguese MotoGP race, 24 April

While no two circuits are the same which is likely to cause more inconsistent results - not just for Quartararo - but the whole grid, very few can win in the way Quartararo did so at Portimao. 

Going into last weekend Quartararo was responsible for the Japanese manufacturer’s only podium of the year (Mandalika), which is why Huewen believes Quartararo dug his managing director Lin Jarvis out of a ‘big hole’.

Huewen continued: "I mean, what a year! We’ve had ten podium finishers which is more than Moto3 and Moto2. Quartararo is good around there (Portimao), and maybe the fact the bike hasn’t changed at all suits the fact that they have no data. 

"They only had one dry session which was the warm-up session on the Sunday morning which was really cold, everything else had been really miserable, wet, patchy and dodgy. So the fact was, the Yamaha by virtue of not changing much; had the same tyres as last year I think, so data wise they had everything they needed and that was maybe an advantage for them. 

"But what a great ride by Quartararo. On the day where his racing managing director (Lin Jarvis) had his 400th race, Quartararo absolutely dug him out of a massive grey hole. I’ve never seen Lin Jarvis with a bigger grin on his face. 

"His job and the factory’s job must have looked just a little bit tenuous over the last few months with the way that they haven’t made any progress, but on his 400th race they get a win from nowhere. Quartararo was imperious and no one could get near him."

Quartararo is ‘grabbing every opportunity’, back on track for MotoGP title?

Quartararo’s win is not just a big achievement given Yamaha’s current issues, it’s a victory that’s also catapulted him to the top of the championship alongside Rins. 

Fabio Quartararo, Portuguese MotoGP race, 24 April
Fabio Quartararo, Portuguese MotoGP race, 24 April

To win back-to-back titles Quartararo will need to ‘grab every opportunity’, which’s MotoGP editor Peter McLaren believes is already happening: "I mean the next best Yamaha wasn’t even in the top ten. Dovizioso (11th) was 29 seconds back. 

"It does just show how much Yamaha do need Quartararo. He’s grabbing every opportunity. We saw him happy with seventh place in COTA and he was saying ‘I'm doing everything, I’m getting everything I can out of this bike’. 

"This track didn’t have the long straights where the top speed was hurting him and so he was able to do a bit more."

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