MotoGP: Quartararo Says “I Have Nothing To Lose Right Now”

MotoGP: Quartararo Says “I Have Nothing To Lose Right Now”

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna:

“If he did it, we can do it”: Thursday talking points

Hear from Bagnaia, Quartararo, Aleix Espargaro, Bastianini, Marc Marquez and Rins

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Here. We. GO! It’s #MatchPointPecco this weekend and ahead of track action, Thursday offered up another two Press Conferences. The first was the top three contenders ahead of a pivotal weekend; Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), and the second two headliners from Down Under: Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), as well as another contender looking to stay in the fight: Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™).

Here are some key quotes!

QUOTES

FRANCESCO BAGNAIA

How are you feeling; calm or nervous?

“In this moment, I’m quite calm, because finally I know that our potential can be high. If we continue working like we did in the second half of the season, we can do a really good job. The main question here is the weather because it looks like it can rain on Saturday and Sunday, but let’s see. It’s always very difficult to predict the weather here, but I think, if we work well, we have a great possibility.”

 

Francesco Bagnaia. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Francesco Bagnaia. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Is it possible to treat this like a normal weekend?

“For sure, an Italian has not won the MotoGP™ title since 2009, and Ducati has not won the [riders’] title since 2007. It would be my first title in MotoGP™ so, for sure, the pressure is there. I feel that I’ll start having the pressure*, but in this moment, I’m quite happy. I know that we did something really good this year, but we still have to finish the job and my main focus in this moment is on that.”

Does the experience from winning Moto2 title here in 2018 help at all? Have you spoken to Rossi about how he handled the pressure?

“My season is totally different compared to 2018, because there, it was very hard and it was my first title. But I feel more relaxed in this moment compared to 2018, but it’s something that will totally change tomorrow or Sunday, because normally you start to feel the pressure on the race day.”

Tested here, but how do you feel about the competitiveness of the bike now?

“I wasn’t believing that our potential was what we demonstrated in the test because we were very slow. I was trying to understand, I was trying to work, but it was very difficult to be constant, to be competitive, and from that moment, sincerely, we worked very hard to achieve this level. Sincerely, the biggest improvement was in Portimao – when we were in Jerez, everything was already at the top level – and from that moment, we have just adjusted something. But I think the biggest improvement from that moment was on me, finally on my mentality. In the second part of the season, it was the things I think that have given me more motivation to be here.”

FABIO QUARTARARO

Mission to enjoy yourself and get a result to keep the title alive?

“Especially you know, last races I didn’t enjoy so much but you know right now I’m in a position where I don’t really need to think about anything, just push myself to the limit. It’s of course a different mentality and I will of course make this GP in a different mood.”

 

Fabio Quartararo. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Fabio Quartararo. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

How will the approach change?

“I would not say really pressure but I have the feeling I have nothing to lose right now in this moment, so of course I will approach the race putting myself on the limit from the beginning of the weekend, make some changes on the bike at the beginning of the weekend. Try to make some changes on the bike, I think this is something – every time we go to a track we feel super good and never touch something. I think it’s a good moment to, even if we have a good feeling, try to make an improvement in some areas. I think it’s a different situation than the previous ones.”

Does Pecco’s comeback give you hope?

“It’s not over. If he did it, we can do it. Like I said, of course the second part of the season has been horrible, but we can make it turn and try to really perform during these last two races.”

How do you think this year’s Yamaha will perform in Malaysia?

“Also in 2019 we struggled a bit in the last sector on the two long straights, but it’s a track I really enjoy, it’s one of my favourites. I will do my best to make the best qualifying, this is super important for us, and then we see during the weekend. The pace is always super good in all the places but it depends a lot on qualifying.”

What are you hoping for from Yamaha in 2023 to give you more margin to the limit?

“More margin, not sure as I think these two guys are also pushing to the limit. But just better performance, we are missing in every area, not only engine, so they know what they need to do. It’s not necessary to repeat it all the time, from the beginning of the year we have had meetings and they are working on it, and the Misano Test was positive with the engine. Let’s see if they can make a step on chassis.”

ALEIX ESPARGARO

Proud moment given 300th GP appearance coming up:

“Yes, I’m happy and proud, because to arrive in the MotoGP™ World Championship is the dream of every kid who loves bikes, but to be able to stay for such a long career is even more difficult, and 300 Grands Prix is crazy. I saw the stats last week, I saw the five names in front of me, and it’s unbelievable. I’m extremely happy and proud and hopefully I can make it one to remember here in Malaysia.”

 

Aleix Espargaro. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Aleix Espargaro. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Aim is to enjoy weekend and stay in title contention for VAL?

“Exactly, this is the target. The goal is to try and stop Pecco, which is going to be difficult because the form he showed in recent races – actually, the second part of the Championship – has been amazing, but I will try my best. I have the feeling that it’s more lost than won, this title, for me, so I can risk a little bit more, be a little bit more aggressive on race day, and hopefully bring it to Valencia.”

How much are you looking forward to this weekend and seeing how much your bike has improved since Sepang test?

“I mean, testing is testing, but in pre-season we were very strong, very fast, and we did a fast lap, but also we had consistency regarding the pace. But, from last February to here, everybody has improved quite a lot, but anyway I think it’s a track where the bike will work well. We have a lot of data that we didn’t have in Australia, Thailand, Japan, so, from the pre-season, here in Malaysia we have some data, even if we haven’t raced here since 2019. So, I think the Aprilia will be competitive here.”

What lessons have you learnt to ensure you will be fighting for title in 2023?

“We saw that in the races we didn’t have data, we struggled a lot. We lost a lot of time doing basic things like gearbox and many other things because the data we have from ’19 is completely useless for us – we have changed completely. So, I think it’s a good school for us in the future. We lost a lot of points in recent races, but if we are able to learn about this and change, a little bit, the way we work on these new tracks and we have the data for the future, I think we’re going to be stronger next season.”

ENEA BASTIANINI

Talk to us about the AUS comeback, and could you have won the race without your problems (qual 15th, airbag go off, drop to 20th)?

“It’s always difficult to say this after a race but, on the second lap, I had some bumps exiting the last corner and my airbag exploded; it’s very difficult to do that lap. In any case, after that, my feeling was quite good. The choice to put the hard on the front was the correct one, I think, and I closed the gap on the last lap, and it was possible to try and get onto the podium that Sunday. But, I’m really happy about my race because I have never had a good result at Phillip Island and it’s my first one, and we will see what we can do next year, but I’m happy.”

 

Enea Bastianini. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Enea Bastianini. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Where were you particularly strong here in winter test (when fastest) and can you fight for podium on Sunday?

“When I tried the ’21 bike during the test, I remember I was really excited because the bike was so strong and it was really beautiful to ride here. The conditions are really difficult, also physically at the Malaysian GP. It will be really hard but I’m ready to fight with the other riders and I think it will be more difficult than the test because the other Ducati riders and the ’22 bikes made a good step after two or three races, and my results also depend on this. But, we are ready to start, and to close this season in the best mode possible.”

Are you thinking about your chance for the Championship?

“My chance is very small, but I’ll try to do my best and it will be important to be fast on Friday because qualifying is always key to MotoGP™ now, and if you start behind, it’s difficult. Also, at this track, it’s really hot, and the pressure in the tyre will come up, but I’ll try to close this Championship in the top three because I think Aleix is the closest and can be our target.”

Do you think Bagnaia will win Championship this weekend?

“I think Pecco has this potential because Ducati is so strong but also Pecco is really fast at this track. But it depends also on Fabio because he has to be motivated to try to win the title and I think we will see tomorrow his potential for the weekend.”

MARC MARQUEZ

What did the result mean to you and the team?

“Yeah of course we take away from Australia really positive energy and some extra motivation I would say. When you, Honda, the engineers are working so hard, when the team has suffered, I suffered at home but they suffered at the track all season, and when some good news arrives, some good results – already in Japan with the pole, Thailand fighting with the top guys and the podium in Australia, means a lot. It’s important, it’s an important boost for next year. It’s true we’ll come back to our real place here because Australia is a very special circuit and one of my favourite tracks, but we’ll keep working for 2023, my main target is to keep on that positive evolution and it looks like we achieved it.”

 

Marc Marquez. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marc Marquez. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Is keeping the balance between working for 2023 and focusing on now tricky?

“In Phillip Island we had many new items and we tried on Friday, then on Saturday I pushed to change the schedule because I saw it was possible to take a good result. I said ‘please, I want to concentrate for the race’, and then we forget a bit and we concentrate more on the weekend. But Malaysia is a good track to try new things, I will try a few new things tomorrow and we will continue if the weather accepts, I will continue on trying new things because it’s important, it’s the deadline for the Valencia Test. I will try the maximum, we will go out there and take a risk but always thinking about trying new things.”

Are these things already tried but are they new things for this weekend?

“In Australia I didn’t get to finish trying all these things. For example the tail wings, one example, the one you can see. The others I can’t say. I tried one run and we didn’t get good information so I will try here, but we have a few different things that someone inside Honda needs to try and we don’t have time, so we need to do it during a race weekend so I accept this role.”

Will this be the biggest physical test since the 4th operation?

“As I say in Thailand, three races in a row I felt like I needed a rest but it was important, but as soon as I got on the bike in Australia I felt a big improvement. Not only in the Australia GP, the way the muscles recovered from Australia to Malaysia was faster, and the muscles are relaxed in a better way. This track is one of the most difficult and most demanding for the hot conditions. But we are ready to fight and I don’t want to think about the arm anymore, it’s true we’ll improve especially during the winter, but I will try to give my 100% as we are.”

Thoughts on the Championship…

“Yes it’s the first chance for Pecco, he has a big chance to do it here. But I will say it’s the last chance for Fabio so he needs to react, and as a Champion he will react I expect. It will be nice to see how they will push all weekend, especially Fabio, as we did in Australia he took a risk, but here he has to take the real risk if he wants to have a chance in Valencia.”

ALEX RINS

How many times have you watched Phillip Island race already, and how much of a boost to you and Suzuki?

“For sure, we watched the race three or four times with the team before getting on the plane. It was so nice; I mean, it was an iconic race. As you said, it was the second-closest top 10 finish, so it was unbelievable, but I’m already thinking about the Sepang GP and let’s see. I have good memories from recent years here – 2018, ’19 – and also in the pre-season test, we were able to do a good test, a good set-up on the bike. We have some new items on the bike compared to February that can help us a little bit to improve the pace that we were doing in the winter test, so let’s go for it.”

 

Alex Rins. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Alex Rins. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Does your February performance make you confident of fighting for podium?

“I mean, it’s the target. The target always, in every race, is to try to fight for the podium positions. I think we have the level, we have the bike, so let’s go for it. Everything can change. Also, we need to see the weather conditions – it looks like on Sunday for the race, from 2 to 4pm, we will have rain. But we will start from Friday, giving everything, and then look at our chances.”

What has been your assessment of Honda’s performance?

“Sincerely, for me, Honda started the season quite strongly in Qatar. Pol made the podium, he was super-fast, also in the pre-season test he was impressive. After Marc came back, it’s true that he’s riding with some new items that the others, I think, are not riding with, and I saw the bike quite good. For sure, they need to improve a little bit more, but in the race in Phillip Island, when he was riding in front of me, I saw the bike turning quite well. Let’s see.”

Do you think Bagnaia will win Championship this weekend?

“For sure, he has the first chance to win the Championship here in Malaysia. It will be difficult for Fabio and Aleix because, as Enea says, in the winter test, the Ducati guys here were riding quite fast. But, I hope it waits until Valencia; it’s more exciting. It’s the last GP, the last in Spain – I would like it to wait until Valencia.”

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