MotoGP leader Quartararo out to arrest recent slump


Down the ranks: Fabio Quartararo has not earned a podium finish since winning the opening two races of the season. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing team rider Fabio Quartararo will be out to arrest the slide in his charge for the MotoGP crown in the upcoming back-to-back races at the Misano Grand Prix in Italy starting this weekend.

The Frenchman is eyeing podium finishes and big points at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli after losing ground over the last three rounds.

After starting the season with a perfect pair of wins at Jerez in July, Quartararo has been in a slump finishing seventh, eighth and 13th in last month’s MotoGP races.

He is still leading the world championship standings but only by just three points ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Quartararo has set his mind on getting back on track beginning with this weekend’s sixth round of the world championship on his favourite circuit.

Returning to the track named in honour of the late Italian MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli who passed away in a fatal incident at Sepang in 2011 brings back nothing but good memories for Quartararo.

It was here in his rookie season when he battled Honda world champion rider Marc Marquez for victory until the final lap last year.

“I finished second but it could have been my first win of my career, so this is a track I really look forward to.

“We need to return to the podium in the next few races and grab as many points as possible at a circuit that suits our bike better.

“The target is to get back the feeling on the bike we had in the first two races in Jerez.

“We fought for the win until the last lap for the first time last year (at Misano), so we will try to repeat this over the next two Sundays,” said Quartararo, who is certainly hoping Yamaha has resolved the braking issues plaguing their bikes for the last two races.

Marquez will not be present to trouble Quartararo this time around but he still has his hands full holding off his rivals from KTM, Ducati and Suzuki.

“Misano is one of my favourite circuits because it has a little bit of everything – slow corners, fast corners and switching from left to right.

“I am curious to see how it works with the new asphalt and if the conditions have changed a lot since last year.

“It is a very beautiful circuit and I can’t wait to be riding there this weekend,” added Quartararo, who is one of only three riders (along with Dovizioso and Takaaki Nakagami of Japan) to have scored points in all five rounds so far.

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