Fabio Quartararo

Jerez MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes: Risk, The Price Of Crashing, The Future Of MotoGP, And KTM

We had to wait 245 days between races, but boy, was it worth the wait. The Moto3 race was the usual closely-fought battle, the new order reasserted itself in Moto2, and the MotoGP race destroyed any preconceptions we had of the 2020 season, while serving up a smorgasbord of some of the finest riding we have seen in a very long time. Motorcycle racing junkies got the fix they had jonesing for, which should keep them sated for a while. And the best thing is we do it all over again next week. Though it is hard to imagine how the MotoGP paddock can replicate the events of this weekend.

In these notes:

  • We told you this would be a tricky championship
  • Marc Márquez being Marc Márquez
  • The deep hole Honda have dug for themselves
  • The win we had been waiting for
  • Yamaha's shake up pays off
  • I thought Ducatis were supposed to suck at Jerez?
  • A whole new championship
  • KTM – a proper motorcycle at last
  •  

It is hard to believe how much happened in the space of just a single day. But here's what mattered on Sunday.

Risk vs reward

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Jerez MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Risk vs Reward, How to Handle Yellow Flags, And Three Clear Favorites

For a stunning and heartrending reminder of just how difficult and delicate the 2020 MotoGP season is going to be, see Alex Rins' huge crash at Turn 11 during qualifying on Saturday at Jerez. The Suzuki Ecstar rider lost the front at one of the fastest and most treacherous corners of the circuit, and was forced to pick the bike up to try and save it. But as he entered the gravel trap, he realized he was traveling too fast, and decided to drop the bike to avoid hitting the barrier on the outside of the corner.

That is never an easy maneuver at speeds well over 170 km/h, and Rins fell badly in the attempt. After examination in the medical center, he was transported to a local hospital, where an MRI scan revealed that he had dislocated his right shoulder, fracturing the head of the humerus, the bone in the upper arm. He also suffered a tear in one of the muscles of his rotator cuff. Though he has not been officially ruled unfit to race just yet, the chance of him actually lining up on the grid on Sunday is minuscule.

Rins' real worry is the fact that there is another race in 7 days. And then three more races on consecutive weekends, starting three weeks from now. If Rins can race, it will be punishing. If he can't, there is still very little time to recover before the next race, or between the races after that. Thirteen races in eighteen weekends is a tough schedule for the fully fit. For anyone carrying an injury, it is going to be brutal.

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Jerez MotoGP Friday Round Up: Heat, Wind, And Tires

Be careful what you wish for. For four months, MotoGP riders sat at home and twiddled their thumbs, hoping for the racing to return. They got their wish, but there was a catch: the season opener is in Jerez, in July, in the withering heat of an Andalusian summer.

It was positively punishing on track, especially in the afternoon, once track temperatures started to creep into the mid 50s °C. The track gets greasy, and that catches riders out, especially rookies. Alex Márquez was one such rider: the Repsol Honda rider tucked the front at Turn 8, disrupting the plan for the session.

"In the crash, I was too optimistic, coming from the morning with a good feeling on track, you know," the younger Márquez brother told us. "I made a rookie mistake. The grip changed quite a lot from the morning to the afternoon. I was a little bit wide in the entry, but I was on a good lap so I tried to go back to the right line but I was a with a little bit too much lean angle on a dirty surface, and then the front was just closed."

Understanding how the heat affected the track was the key to the afternoon. The track has plenty of grip when temperatures are in the 30s and 40s°C, but once the mercury creeps past 50°C, the grip goes away, turning the MotoGP bikes into a real handful. By the end of FP1, track temperatures had hit 40°C. By the start of FP2, the track temperature was already 54°C, and rising.

The heat is on

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Fabio Quartararo And Sergio Garcia Penalized For Unauthorized Practice - UPDATE

Fabio Quartararo and Sergio Garcia have both been handed penalties for using unauthorized machines to practice on track. The pair have been punished by being forced to miss the first 20 minutes of FP1 when action resumes on Friday.

The two were punished for separate incidents, Garcia for riding at Aragon in June, Quartararo for riding at Paul Ricard in the same month. Both riders admitted that they had broken the rules, but claimed the infraction was unintentional. The relative lenience of the sentence would appear to back that up, the penalty being in line with previous incidents.

Quartararo has appealed against his penalty, however. The hearing for that is yet to be heard.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

The FIM Appeal Stewards rejected Fabio Quartararo's appeal. The Frenchman will sit out the first 20 minutes of FP1 on Friday morning

The press release from the FIM appears below:

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Quartararo's Paul Ricard Practice Bike - Will The Punishment Fit The Crime?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

20 jours et ça sera sur la MotoGP 🔥🤪 / 20 days and back in the practice with my M1 🔥🤪

A post shared by Fabio Quartararo 🇫🇷 (@fabioquartararo20) on

One of the many good things about being a MotoGP rider is that you get offered a lot of free stuff. Take a careful look at the social media feed of any rider and you will see stickers and logos on display, discretely or blatantly, on all sorts of items: caps, sunglasses, t-shirts, jeans, jackets, bicycles, underwear, motorcycles, leathers, MX gear, helmets. You name it, and some brand or other will have given it to a rider to show off on their social media.

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Crunching The Numbers: What If COVID-19 Had Affected Previous Seasons?

What if “COVID-19” happens in the past

The 2020 MotoGP season has gotten off to a rocky start. Since the opening round at Qatar, where only the Moto2 and Moto3 classes raced, we have had two updated calendars for the season. We have had news of races postponed, then later on canceled. Speculation about the possible scenarios is changing week by week, or even day by day.

In the beginning of April, it looked like it would not be possible to start the MotoGP championship earlier than August, and multiple sources were talking about 10 races, leaving the final third of the calendar intact. The possibility of returning to Qatar round for the season finale was also being suggested.

More recently, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta offered two possible scenarios for 2020: 10 to 12 races only in Europe, or up to 16 races, if intercontinental travel becomes possible again later this year.

The more versions we heard about, the more interested I became in seeing how the championships in the last 10 years might have ended differently with the given scenarios.

So until we know what the final and definitive calendar for this year looks like, let’s play with the numbers a bit.

Warning! During this experiment we haven’t taken into consideration the human factors. The only thing we took into account: that the numbers never lie, and in statistics everything is possible.

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Petronas Yamaha Boss Razlan Razali, Part 2: On Making The Sepang Circuit A Success, Managing A MotoGP Team, And Working With Yamaha

In the first part of Tammy Gorali's interview with Razlan Razali, team principal of the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, and formerly CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, the Malaysian team boss talked about how the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the circuit, and the 2020 season. He also talked about how he views rider contracts, and whether he would welcome Valentino Rossi into the team in 2021.

In the second part, Razali goes into more depth on the decisions he made as CEO of the Sepang circuit, including why he chose MotoGP over F1, the circuit eventually deciding to drop the contract with F1. He talks about the importance of the Malaysian market, and getting local fans into the circuit as spectators.

Part of that drive turned into the creation of what is now the Petronas Yamaha SRT team. Razlan Razali tells Gorali about the team's journey from vehicle to get Malaysian riders into Grand Prix racing via Moto3 into fully fledged team with riders across all three classes. Razali also talks about how they see their riders for 2021, despite the loss of racing. And he discusses the Petronas' team relationship with Yamaha, and the bike the Japanese factory has brought for 2020.

Q: You stepped down from the position of Sepang circuit CEO this month. You were a very bold and unique CEO, like saying to the F1 championship "thank you guys - go and drive somewhere else"...

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Petronas Yamaha Boss Razlan Razali, Part 1: On Canceling 2020, Rider Contracts, And Having Valentino Rossi As A Rider

2020 was set to be a huge year for the Petronas Yamaha SRT team. After an astonishing debut year, Fabio Quartararo had a full factory bike and factory backing from Yamaha, and was expected to win races and challenge for the title. Franco Morbidelli had a year of experience of the M1 under his belt, and a better bike ready to take on the season. Both riders had been fast during testing, showing signs they would live up to their promise.

It was also set to be a big year for Razlan Razali, who was due to step down as CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, home to the Malaysian round of MotoGP and owner of the Petronas team, after nearly twelve years, to focus solely on his role as Team Principal of the team. He had a lot on his hands in that role: expanding sponsorship and the profile of the team, handling the success of last year, and fielding questions about 2021, with all the signs pointing to Petronas Yamaha having Valentino Rossi in the team.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that. With the death toll around the world now already past 200,000, measures to curb the disease have been put in place across the globe. That has put any thought of international motorcycle racing on the back burner. That, in turn, has forced teams to change their plans, and raised a number of questions which teams had never even thought they would need to answer.

To get a perspective on how things have changed for the Petronas Yamaha team, and for Razlan Razali in particular, leading Israeli journalist and broadcaster Tammy Gorali spoke to the Team Principal. She covered a wide range of subjects with Razali, who spoke from his experience both as CEO of a Grand Prix circuit and as the head of the only team with riders in all three classes.

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Crew Chief Diego Gubellini On Fabio Quartararo: Fast, Smart, And Mentally Strong

Fabio Quartararo at the 2020 Sepang MotoGP test

The announcement that the Petronas Yamaha SRT team had signed Fabio Quartararo for the 2019 MotoGP season was met with some skepticism. Why, the critics said, would you sign a rider with just a single victory to his name after four seasons in Grand Prix, and with two other podiums, both of which had come in his first year in Moto3?

Quartararo soon proved the critics wrong. The Frenchman impressed by qualifying in fifth place for his first race, and then again by setting the fastest lap of that first race after starting from pit lane due to stalling on the grid. Four races later, he put his signing beyond doubt, qualifying on pole and battling for the podium until a broken quickshifter took him out of contention.

Since then, Quartararo has gone from strength to strength. The Petronas Yamaha rider ended the 2019 season in fifth place, with six poles and seven podiums, two of which came as thrilling battles to the line with world champion Marc Márquez. He starts 2020 as one of Marc Márquez' main challengers.

Behind every great motorcycle racer is a smart crew chief, and Quartararo is no exception. The Frenchman has Diego Gubellini at his side, an engineer with over 20 years of experience in the Grand Prix paddock, including seven seasons as crew chief with the Gresini, Aprilia, and Marc VDS teams. In 2019, he joined the Petronas Yamaha SRT team to work with Fabio Quartararo.

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What Does The Delayed Start To The 2020 MotoGP Season Mean To The Factories?

On Sunday, at 6pm, the desert night will erupt in a cacophony of sound, as Grand Prix motorcycle racing gets underway for the start of the 2020 season. But it won't be the vicious bellow of MotoGP machines which will shatter the desert silence; instead, the more modest howl (118 dB compared to 130 dB of the MotoGP bikes) of the Triumph triple-engined Moto2 machines will scream away from the lights and around the floodlit track.

It wasn't meant to be that way, of course. The Moto2 machines were supposed to race an hour and forty minutes earlier, their original start time planned for 4:20pm local time. Now, it will be the Moto3 riders starting their race at that time, and not the 3pm slot originally scheduled. The MotoGP machines will be sitting in packing crates, waiting to be shipped to the next race.

As I write this, it is not entirely clear where that will be. It might be Austin, Texas, unless the US authorities impose further restrictions. It might be Termas De Rio Honda, in Argentina, unless the Argentinian government changes its mind about allowing entry from Italy, or Japan, or anywhere else. It might even be Jerez, if international air travel is subject to sudden and extreme restrictions.

Evolution

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