'Shaking' Quartararo 'on the limit' for eleventh, 'it was tough'

MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo pushes himself and the Yamaha M1 to the limit on day two in Qatar, but it's only enough for eleventh on the grid.
Fabio Quartararo, Qatar MotoGP, 4 March 2022
Fabio Quartararo, Qatar MotoGP, 4 March 2022
© Gold and Goose

Reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo will start his title defence from just eleventh on the grid in Qatar on Sunday night.

A 'tough' day two at the Losail circuit began with the Monster Yamaha rider pushed out of direct access to Qualifying 2, but set a competitive pace on his way to fourth in final practice.

After navigating through a tense Q1 behind Brad Binder, the Frenchman had only one soft rear tyre remaining, with which he set a lap time 0.624s from Jorge Martin's Ducati pole time.

Although Quartararo felt he might have been able to improve by one tenth without a small mistake, it wouldn't have changed his starting position.

"I just put myself on the limit and give my 100% every time I go on track - today, tomorrow and until the end of the season. But it was tough," he said.

"Coming into Qatar I expected much better but, like always, on the race pace I'm fast. Looking at the practice I'm not super angry because I know I did my best and I cannot do much better."

While top speed is an obvious weakness for all the Yamaha riders, Quartararo was 13km/h slower than Enea Bastianini's Ducati in Qualifying, rear grip is the 'main issue' in Qatar.

"We know that when we don't have the rear grip, we are struggling so much and I think we have no margin to put more power in some accelerations," Quartararo said.

"Then the bike is totally shaking, but this is because when you put yourself on the limit, in the end you arrive at a moment where the bike is not really stable anymore.

"If the bike is shaking and everything it means I'm on the limit, but for me the main difference is the rear grip that is missing on this track and we know is a weak point for us. I would say this is the main issue."

On the positive side, Quartararo won last year's race despite dropping as low as ninth.

"Last year I was P9 for almost [half] the race and then I could overtake," he said "But things change, bikes improve. So we will see, because on the pace actually I'm not feeling so bad.

"But I will have no time to, I will not say rest, but I will have to push myself to the limit while also taking care of the tyres. So it will not be an easy job."

Quartararo will also be starting close to the Suzukis of Alex Rins (tenth) and Joan Mir (eighth), who are both expected to have front-running pace, meaning he might be able to follow them through the pack.

The #20 also hopes the fastest bikes will need to turn down some of their power advantage, compared to qualifying, for the race distance while targetting a lower downforce aerodynamic package from Mugello to try and help with top speed.

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli will start next to Quartararo, in twelfth.

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