Fabio Quartararo has wrapped up the MotoGP top rookie honour with three races to spare as he continues his stunning second half of the season with another rostrum for Petronas Yamaha in Japan.

The French rider made the most of his soft rear tyre pick to challenge Marc Marquez on the opening laps of the Japanese MotoGP before measuring his pace to defend second place late on against Andrea Dovizioso.

It marks Quartararo’s fourth rostrum from the last six races and duly confirms him as the best rookie rider in MotoGP this year – which was the target set out to him by Petronas Yamaha at the start of the season.

“We had a meeting at the Malaysia test and we set the target of both riders and they said your target is to be top rookie this year,” Quartararo said. “And I thought it would be really tough as there are some really big riders like Miguel [Oliveira], Pecco [Bagnaia] and Mir so I knew it was a big goal for me.

“To be top rookie with three races before the end, it feels really good. Now we will need to set new goals and what we did this year is fantastic but now it is pure fun, we have nothing to do, we just want to enjoy and make some good results.”

Quartararo was the only rider to finish inside the top five who selected a soft rear tyre and felt his strategy was justified by his runner-up result, while his fellow riders on rear soft tyres suffered a big performance drop in the closing laps.

“We tried in warm-up to compare both tyres [medium and soft] and I felt better with the soft but we said with the team if the temperature increased a lot we would use the medium for the race,” he said.

“I think looking at the pace that they had maybe it changed a little bit but not a lot. I think we made the right decision.

“Like I said with our bike it is good to make a gap from the first laps and that is what we did. Marc was super-fast today and I was really on the limit today to try to follow him but second place is really good.”

Quartararo has climbed up to sixth place in the overall MotoGP riders’ standings, ahead of Valentino Rossi, while he is just 13 points back from third place which is currently shared by Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales.

 

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