Morbidelli needed Argentina MotoGP sprint result “a lot” after 2022 struggles

Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli says he is “full of joy” after finishing fourth in Saturday’s MotoGP Argentina Grand Prix sprint race, which was a result he needed “a lot”.

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing

The 2020 championship runner-up endured a torrid 2022 campaign with the factory Yamaha squad as he failed to get anywhere near the podium and was outclassed emphatically by team-mate Fabio Quartararo.

After a tough start to the 2023 season in Portugal, in which he was 14th in both the sprint race and the grand prix, Morbidelli has been the strongest Yamaha rider in Argentina so far this weekend.

Qualifying fourth, Morbidelli briefly led the sprint and held onto a podium place for much of the 12-lap contest before eventually finishing fourth.

This was in stark contrast to team-mate Quartararo, who struggled to 10th in qualifying and could only make up one spot in the sprint.

“It was nice,” Morbidelli said after registering his best race result since he was third at the 2021 Spanish GP.

“I had a good start, I was a bit too excited in the first corner and there was a big wet patch and I got scared and I went wide and lost first.

“I was able to recover and even led the race for a couple of laps. It felt unbelievable, it felt so good. And then I had less potential than the Ducatis.

“I tried to make the maximum, and bring home the best result I could.

“It’s a fourth place, I’ll take it. The team deserves this, the team is working so hard to catch up. We need to work even harder together. These kinds of performances are good fuel for me.

“[I needed this] A lot. I’m full of joy.”

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing, race start

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing, race start

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Morbidelli was able to stay with the bikes around him in the slipstream and defend, praising Formula 1 engine guru Luca Marmorini for the work he did on the 2023 M1’s motor.

“I was thinking about all the engineers and Marmorini who helped me in the straight to keep that position,” Morbidelli added.

“We were able to be very difficult to overtake. We need to take this as a positive. Last year we would get smoked on the straight.”

Quartararo believes Morbidelli’s pace in Argentina can be attributed to the fact the Italian is generally strong around low-grip venues, but notes the data on offer to him now from his team-mate will benefit the Frenchman in the grand prix.

“I think with Franco [and me] we have two riding styles that are totally different,” said Quartararo.

“In tracks where there is low grip, like Barcelona, Malaysia in the first test, he’s always fast.

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“And this is something like [being] really aggressive on the brakes and doing corner speed, but I’m missing in some areas. Here I’m struggling to do it.

“This is going to be good tomorrow [Sunday], because already looking at a few bits of data we are seeing two small things that were a little bit strange, especially to slow down the bike.

“I was braking much more, but I was not slowing down. So, this is interesting, and I think it’s going to be great data for [the grand prix].”

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