PETALING JAYA: Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team MotoGP rider Fabio Quartararo cried foul after missing out on a great chance to make the podium and regain the championship lead.
After spending almost the entire race behind Spaniard Pol Espargaro, Quartararo overtook the KTM rider for third place on the penultimate lap at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.
But his joy was shortlived when he was penalised for running over the kerbs and onto the green paint more than five times during the race.
Since it can be difficult for a rider to tell if track limits have been exceeded, a warning is sent via a dashboard message after three infractions.
But the frustrated Frenchman insisted he did not receive such warning.
“Unfortunately, I got the long lap penalty but the race officials didn’t send me any message of track warning, so I was a bit surprised.
“Normally when you exceed track limits three times, you have a warning. And when you get the warnings you take much more care. I didn’t see any warning.
“This is something they must look into because when you watch a race you see that they send a message to the TV. But you are not looking at the TV.
“I’m so frustrated because when you have a track warning you will be extra careful and since I didn’t see anything, I was riding like normal.”
As well as missing out on his first podium since a double victory in the Jerez season openers in July, the three points lost also denied Quartararo the chance to regain the lead.
With 83 points, he is now a point behind leader Andrea Dovizioso of Italy and tied with Sunday’s race winner Maverick Vinales of Spain heading into the second half of the season, which starts at Catalunya this weekend.
“For me it was a good race. The goal was to finish on the podium and for me it’s like a third place.
“Okay, we don’t have the 16 points but I’m feeling happy because I fought until the end. Just really disappointed not to be up there.”
Teammate Franco Morbidelli, who continued to feel the effects of a stomach bug, put in an heroic effort across the 27 laps.
The Italian, winner at the same track two weeks ago, was caught up in another rider’s crash on the first lap and dropped to 19th.
But refusing to give up, Morbidelli powered through to bring his Yamaha YZR-M1 home in ninth place.
“I’m still trying to recover from a stomach bug, I have been feeling very sick. I have to say thanks to my dietician who gave me the right food to have enough energy for this race.
“Over the weekend I have been getting better, but I will go home and get checked just to see if there’s something to aid recovery further.
“I think we had the chance to be on the podium this weekend but unfortunately, another rider on the first lap took me out. I lost a lot of time there. I’m happy though as I wasn’t expecting to finish ninth.”