Quartararo back on top in MotoGP as Bottas bags second F1 win this season

Best moment: MotoGP rider Fabio Quartararo gets emotional after winning the Catalunya Motorcycle Grand Prix. Inset: Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas celebrates on the podium after winning the Russian Grand Prix. — AP

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas has every reason to rejoice on Sunday after MotoGP rider Fabio Quartararo won in Barcelona and Petronas Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas earned his second win of the season in Formula 1 in Russia.

For Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider Quartararo, Sunday’s dominant win brought him more satisfaction than the two earlier ones he achieved in Jerez in July.

Getting back to the top of the podium was like getting a huge weight off his shoulders after a podium-less run in the last five races after Jerez.

The Frenchman is the only rider to win more than one race this season and now with three under his name, he has regained the MotoGP championship lead with 108 points.

Suzuki rider Joan Mir of Spain, who finished second on Sunday, is now the closest contender – eight points behind – as the riders head to the French Grand Prix in Le Mans in two weeks’ time.

It was not an easy race by any measure for Quartararo as he did not make the best start off the line and lost places in the first couple of corners.

However, Quartararo was able to find his way through to second on lap six before taking the lead from Italian teammate Franco Morbidelli on lap nine.

“This is the best moment that I have had in a long time, ” said Quartararo.

We have had some tough times since Jerez, so this actually feels better than those two wins. I was not expecting to be so fast in the opening laps, but those two guys (Joan Mir and Alex Rins) were so fast at the end of the race.

“We need to look at why we are struggling at the end of the race. We know that our bike is better in qualifying, so we need to balance this a bit better but at the end of the day the race result is the most important thing and we won.

“It feels so good to be back on the top step of the podium. I am also so happy that I am able to race at my home GP next because there are not many races this season.

“My thanks to the team for the win in Barcelona, ” said the 21-year-old.

Morbidelli was not pleased with the fourth place finish after failing to hold on to his early race lead.

“I am a little angry about finishing fourth but it is a positive thing as it means we are at a good level.

“I am angry because I made a mistake in the race, I started a bit too hot and wore the tyre out too much early on. When fighting with Fabio, I was too much on the limit and trying to recover in braking, in the end I lost two seconds running wide and the chance for a podium.

“I still feel like this was the best strategy though. However I cannot complain about this weekend.

“I got pole position and I was really fast in general, so I am happy. Now we rest a little bit and try to also be fast at Le Mans, ” said Morbidelli, who maintains fifth place in the championship standings with 77 points.

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