Fabio Quartararo: “Tough race, big drop” | Alex Rins: “Harder than I expected”

'The tyre degradation is much more severe. It will be crucial to understand why… we will test our solution during the warm-up.'

Fabio Quartararo, Tissot Sprint Race, Qatar MotoGP, 9 March
Fabio Quartararo, Tissot Sprint Race, Qatar MotoGP, 9 March

Having suffered ‘severe’ tyre degradation during Saturday's 11-lap Qatar MotoGP Sprint, Monster Yamaha riders Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins are in search of a last-minute solution for tonight’s full length grand prix.

Starting 16th, Quartararo made good early progress to twelfth and later put a pass on LCR Honda’s Johann Zarco to regain his status as the top rider on a Japanese machine.

But the final laps were a struggle and, after briefly taking eleventh, he was passed by Marco Bezzecchi.

“It was tough. The drop of the tyre was quite big, bigger than we expected. Because of this, the final 3–4 laps were more about tyre conservation,” Quartararo explained.

“Tomorrow, we'll have double the number of laps, so we are going to be working on that and try to understand why the tyre drop is so much bigger than last year. We have a lot of time tonight to find a solution.”

Alex Rins, Joan Mir, Tissot Sprint Race, Qatar MotoGP, 9 March
Alex Rins, Joan Mir, Tissot Sprint Race, Qatar MotoGP, 9 March

New team-mate Rins also made some early passes to climb from 20th to 17th, then held 16th in the middle stages before he also began to fade.

The former Suzuki and Honda race winner finished the Sprint in 17th, just under three-seconds from this team-mate and 15.629s behind Pramac Ducati race winner Jorge Martin.

“It was a bit hard,” Rins confessed. “We did expect a hard Sprint, but it was a little bit harder than I expected because I couldn't ride my own pace.

“I was trying to manage the rear tyre as much as possible, but I was struggling a lot on the last 5 laps. So, for sure we will need to take more care with the rear tyre tomorrow.

“But I did some laps behind competitors and gathered information. So, let's try to improve our bike a little bit for tomorrow, especially in the fast corners. Let's see if we can do this and save the tyres a bit more.”

While rear traction and tyre degradation was known to be the M1’s weakness, team director Massimo Meregalli explained it has been much worse than expected during the Lusail race weekend.

“After a difficult Friday, we already knew this Saturday would be a tough one,” he said.

“We didn't get the qualifying positions we had hoped for, but Fabio and Álex still set out in the Sprint with the feeling that they would be able to make up some ground – and they did until the tyres dropped.

“The tyre degradation is much more severe this time – and also during the test – than it was when we were racing at the Lusail track last November.

“It will be crucial to understand why this is before tomorrow, as the riders will have to complete 22 laps in the Race. That is what we will be working on tonight, and we will test our solution during the warm-up.”

Yamaha and Honda, which now benefit from revised technical concessions, were the only manufacturers not to score a point in the Sprint with Ducati, KTM and Aprilia having one rider each on the podium.

Read More