‘Extra emotion’ as Morbidelli heads for final Yamaha weekend

After five seasons as a Yamaha MotoGP rider, Franco Morbidelli will complete his final laps on an M1 at Valencia this weekend.
Franco Morbidelli, Qatar MotoGP, 16 November
Franco Morbidelli, Qatar MotoGP, 16 November

The Italian, who spent his rookie season on a Marc VDS Honda before joining Yamaha via the Petronas project in 2019, is being replaced by Alex Rins for 2024.

Without even a podium since 2021, Morbidelli has admitted it “fills me with excitement” to see his future Pramac Ducati team fighting for the world title with Jorge Martin and top of the teams’ championship.

But first, he aims to make some “nice memories” in his last event for Monster Yamaha.

“This will be my last GP with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team, which adds some extra emotion to this weekend,” said Morbidelli.

“I want to end our run together in the best way possible and make some final nice memories with the crew, so that is the goal.”

Title runner-up in 2020, Morbidelli has a best race result of fourth in factory Yamaha colours and is 13th in the world championship.

Team-mate Fabio Quartararo is ninth in the standings, one place behind his previous lowest MotoGP result of eighth in 2020.

With a 25-point deficit to Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, that is where Quartararo is likely to remain.

But the Frenchman is hoping the new asphalt will suit the M1 and that he can challenge for what would be a fourth podium of a difficult year.

“My race pace in Qatar was really good. I hope that it will be like that in Valencia too. Last year didn‘t go too bad there. I think this year we might be able to do well again,” said Quartararo, fourth at Valencia during his doomed title showdown with Francesco Bagnaia.

“We have to keep a positive mindset and keep the good results going until the end of the season. I think the new surface in Valencia will be good. I heard there‘s a lot of grip now, so hopefully we can make a great Sprint and Race.”

Unless Quartararo or Morbidelli can take a shock victory on Sunday, Yamaha will suffer its first winless MotoGP campaign since 2003.

While Morbidelli will make his debut on the title-winning Desmosedici during the Tuesday test, Quartararo will try the latest version of the 2024 M1 prototype, the engine for which left him disappointed at September’s Misano test.

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