Yamaha admit Fabio Quartararo top speed is "fake", but braking provides optimism

Braking strength highlighted by Yamaha boss gives hope to Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo, Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February
Fabio Quartararo, Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February

Fabio Quartararo’s eye-opening top speed at the Sepang test was misleading, Yamaha insist, although there is significant optimism within their camp.

Quartararo set the highest top speed of Day 2 at the preseason Sepang test, hitting 338.5km/h, which was faster than the best time set at last season’s Malaysian MotoGP.

But Yamaha believe it was their braking ability which allowed Quartararo to fly through the speed trap, which is positioned near the braking point, faster than anyone else.

Yamaha team manager Massimo Meregalli was quizzed about the speed of their new engine.

But he clarified: “It’s not only the engine. We also improved the exits, with aerodynamics. We have less wheelie with a new aero device.

“We can get out of the corner with more acceleration than last year.

“We have always been very good in braking.

“This top speed might be a bit fake! Because, also last year, Fabio was close to the top.

“We are quite happy about the step that we were able to do during the winter. We are proving it now.”

Yamaha’s aerodynamics, featured on Quartararo and Alex Rins’ bikes, was without sidepod wings.

“Basically, this is the best compromise,” Meregalli said.

“This is the specification with which we will start the season.

“It’s always a question of balance. You have to find good downforce and less drag to maximise the top speed.

“Cal Crutchlow, Fabio and Alex had the same comments. For us, it was important and easy to decide with which one we would start.”

Alex Rins, Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February
Alex Rins, Sepang MotoGP test, 6 February

'Yamaha allowed to keep experimenting'

Quartararo’s braking ability might already be well-respected, but even the smoother Rins - his new teammate who is still adjusting to the Yamaha - showed signs of adapting quickly.

How has Rins coped on his new bike?

“He said the braking point is one of the strongest points of our bike,” Meregalli said.

“He’s still looking for the limit. He can always try more.

“Since Valencia, he jumped on the bike and felt the braking was a strong point of Yamaha.”

Simon Crafar, the former racer and now a broadcaster, is optimistic that Yamaha can bounce back from a torrid 2023.

“I am. Really, the tell-tale sign was Fabio’s debrief. He said it was a step in the right direction,” Crafar reported.

“He knows that they need more. They have more time, they have all year with the concessions rules.

“They are allowed one extra aero update, and are allowed to update the engine during the year.

“Normally, that’s why it’s so important for Ducati to confirm the ‘24 engine as soon as possible. They have to push ‘go’ and hand it in.

“Yamaha and Honda don’t have to do that. Within the rules they are allowed to keep experimenting.

“And their first step are obviously already good.

“Massimo Bartolini, they are saying that he’s touching all areas. “Aero, electronics…

“The riders say there has been a big push in the electronics area.”

Monday and Tuesday’s Qatar test is the final chance for Yamaha to prepare for the new season which begins on March 8.

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