Pole position 'almost impossible with army of Ducatis around me’- Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo believes MotoGP has become harder than ever to secure a pole position, especially because of the ‘army of Ducatis around me’.
Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia, Jorge Martin, Assen MotoGP
Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia, Jorge Martin, Assen MotoGP

A regular polesitter in his rookie MotoGP season (2019) and again in 2020, Quartararo has been anything but that in recent times as Ducati has become a major force over a single lap. 

The Yamaha rider has just one pole position to his name this season (Mandalika), and although Quartararo has proven to be better in race situations, it’s certainly been challenging for the Frenchman as securing a front row start has arguably become more crucial than ever before. 

Speaking after his brilliant qualifying performance at Assen, Quartararo told MotoGP.com: "I’m happy to have made that front row with the army of Ducatis around me. It’s almost impossible to make a pole position with these Ducatis. 

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"I was really on the limit [his fastest lap] and on the next lap I wanted to try but I knew it was going to be a little bit worse. Today, the front row was the target."

Worryingly for the rest of the grid, Quartararo has become an even better racer than qualifier over the last two seasons - that’s not to say his qualifying has become worse, in fact, it remains just as good.

That’s why a front row start is as good as pole for the current world champion, who has the chance to win his third consecutive race on Sunday - his previous two wins also came from front row starts. 

Race of attrition not on the cards in Assen, ‘I will push 100%’ - Quartararo

Whether it was Mugello, Catalunya or Sachsenring, recent MotoGP races have largely been dominated by who could suffer the least with tyre degradation or overcoming extreme heat. 

Fabio Quartararo, Dutch MotoGP, 25 June
Fabio Quartararo, Dutch MotoGP, 25 June

However, that’s not likely to be the case come Sunday, with Quartararo ready to push flat out. 

Quartararo said: "I will push 100% from the first lap to the last. Maybe I will need the whole five weeks [to recover] laughs]. For me, this track is one of the most physical on the calendar and yes, we will all be in the same situation tomorrow."

Can Bagnaia stop Quartararo/reignite title ambitions?

Although it's a slim possibility, Bagnaia still has the chance to win the 2022 MotoGP title. In order to do so the Italian will have to start winning races and hope Quartararo has a few difficult weekends in the process.

Given their intense battle on lap one in Sachsenring, it’s not a stretch to say we were robbed of a potential race-long fight, something Bagnaia is keen to make happen this weekend.

Asked about who the strongest riders are for Sunday’s race, Bagnaia had one clear name in mind: "For sure, Fabio on this track is always so competitive. I would like to have a fight but [this time] until the end of the race, not just the first two laps. 

Francesco Bagnaia, Dutch MotoGP, 25 June
Francesco Bagnaia, Dutch MotoGP, 25 June

"I think it’s more difficult on this track to open a gap, but we have demonstrated we can be so competitive in the first laps, Fabio too."

Why did Bagnaia end his Assen MotoGP qualifying run early?

During Q2 Bagnaia returned to pit lane immediately after setting a new all-time lap record. But with two minutes still remaining, there was a chance, albeit an unlikely one, that he could be beaten to pole.

"More than this [lap time] was impossible for me. That’s why I stopped in the box," added the Italian. "I said [to himself[ ‘if someone overtook [me] then this is okay’. 

"But I’m very happy with this qualifying. This morning I was struggling a lot to be competitive, but thanks to my team we did a good job. 

"In FP4 we found a way to work and it has helped me a lot with race tyres. On the time attacks we are always so competitive."

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