After race-day disappointment at Sepang, Fabio Quartararo heads to Valencia looking for a strong end to what has already been a dream rookie MotoGP season.

The young Frenchman secured his fifth pole of the season at the Petronas Yamaha team's home Malaysian event, only to slip to seventh in the race.

Quartararo will now battle for a possible sixth pole and seventh podium in Spain this weekend, where he should also add the top Independent title to the Rookie of the Year honours.

The 20-year-old is a healthy 20 points clear of Pramac Ducati's Jack Miller, but is locked in a close three-way battle with Danilo Petrucci and Valentino Rossi for fifth in the final world championship standings.

Quartararo is currently sandwiched between the Italians, just four points behind the factory Ducati of Petrucci and six clear of Rossi's factory Yamaha.

“The target is to finish out the year strongly at Valencia with a good final race. We’re really close to achieving the Independent Riders’ championship, with the gap to Jack [Miller] now over 20 points, so another goal will be to manage that effectively," said Quartararo, who will be returning to the venue where he made his MotoGP debut during testing a year ago.

"The set-up of our bike is completely different now from how it was when I last rode Valencia twelve months ago," Quartararo said. "I’ve got more experience as a rider and the team has more experience too, so we should be able to go a lot faster this time round - but it’ll still be useful to compare data from a year ago to see where we still need to improve. "

Quartararo finished sixth in last year's wet Valencia Moto2 race and was a four-time winner at the circuit en route to back-to-back CEV Moto3 titles in 2013 and 2014.

"I’ve won four races at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in the Spanish championship and it’s the first place I ever got to ride a MotoGP bike, so there’s plenty of good memories in Valencia," he said.

A MotoGP victory for Quartararo at Valencia this weekend would be the first by a rookie since Marc Marquez in 2013 and the first-ever by a satellite Yamaha rider.

Meanwhile, fifth in the world championship would be one place higher than countryman Johann Zarco achieved in his impressive rookie season, on a Tech3 Yamaha, in 2017.

 

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