‘Massive step’ fires Quartararo back into contention, ‘we were really lost’

Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo made a ‘massive step’ on the very final day of 2023 MotoGP pre-season testing.
Fabio Quartararo, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Fabio Quartararo, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

The 2021 world champion had been ‘really lost’ on day one after again struggling to extract speed from fresh tyres, as well as battling bike instability.

But by calling up the old M1 fairing, combined with proven chassis parts and the more powerful 2023 engine, the Frenchman was also able to use a more familiar set-up, transforming his Sunday fortunes.

Quartararo not only set his fastest-ever lap of Portimao to finish third (+0.334s) on the timesheets – behind only the Ducatis of reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco - but slashed one second from his race pace and threatened Bagnaia’s Sprint simulation.

“A massive step today,” said Quartararo, who had been just eighth quickest on day one. “Basically we have been riding with last year's aero package and some old set-up on the bike. And it was working.

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“We could see a little bit where the problem was and… really good. I feel like one with the bike. Still missing a few things on the feeling. But I've never made a 1m 38.3 at this track before.

“Yesterday on the time attack I made a '39.6 for one lap, and today on the pace I was '39 low-'38 high. So it’s close to one second faster in the pace.”

Quartararo added that he was perhaps a bit too careful with the soft rear tyre at the start of his impressive Sprint run.

“I think with the soft, on the first lap I was little bit too conservative. And basically I could have really pushed a little bit more because my last lap was ’38.8 with 12 laps on the tyre.

“It was tough because we were really lost, but today we have found our way. So I think that it's going to be an intense first races.

“It’s still not where I want it to be, but I think that we’ve made a great, great step.

“[We got] the tyre to work better and yesterday also physically the bike was aggressive and not turning.

“So basically it was all the worst things that you can have and today we have been back to good things.”

Quartararo was the only non-Ducati rider in the top eight and the only rider on a Japanese bike in the top twelve.

Joan Mir was the lead Honda in 13th with Franco Morbidelli just 19th, but within 1.1s of Bagnaia, on the other factory M1.

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