Seventh and Fabio goes up

First podium: Franco Morbidelli of Petronas Yamaha SRT showing off his MotoGP trophy after coming in second at the Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno.

PETALING JAYA: Despite finishing only seventh in the Czech Republic Grand Prix, Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider Fabio Quartararo has widened his lead to 17-points at the top of the MotoGP overall standings after three races.

However, the Frenchman knows the world championship title fight is now wide open.

In Brno on Sunday, it was the unlikeliest riders who were on the podium, something that has not been seen for a long time.

South African Brad Binder delivered a shock MotoGP win for KTM, becoming the first rookie in seven years since Marc Marquez to win in the premier class while Quartararo’s teammate Franco Morbidelli of Italy pushed hard for second place to ensure his first career podium.

Then, there was Johann Zarco of France in third place in a Ducati bike Czech from last season.

Quartararo struggled with tyre wear after starting from second in what he described as the most difficult race of his MotoGP career.

Despite the tough race, Quartararo still managed to increase his advantage over nearest rivals Maverick Vinales of Spain and Andrea Dovizioso of Italy, increasing his lead to 17 and 28 points respectively heading into the first of two back-to-back Red Bull Ring races this week.

Vinales finished 14th while Dovizioso was 11th.

“We know that in Austria, KTM have done a lot of testing too, so we need to be careful. We will need to be really smart to try to make a lot of points,” said Quartararo.

“Let’s also see the weather forecast also because it looks like it’s a little bit rain, sun and cloud.

“After the two Austrian races, we have Misano, Barcelona and Le Mans, so it’s still a long way to go.”

Quartararo won the first two rounds in Jerez last month and was disappointed that his winning streak came to an end in Brno.

“It was really tough. When you come from winning two races in a row by five seconds, you want to be up there fighting for victory again.

“I just did not have the same pace as I did in Jerez. I had a big slide from the rear early in the race and I knew the potential of the rear tyre was really bad and it was difficult to manage.

“It was also difficult to stay calm because when I was overtaken, I couldn’t do anything.

“We need to see where the problem is and my crew chief and engineers will check a lot of data. I think we made a few mistakes during the weekend but not huge.”

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