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Quartararo: France “first race this year that I feel competitive” in MotoGP

Yamaha MotoGP rider Fabio Quartararo says he is “happy” with his French Grand Prix despite a late crash “because it’s the first race this year that I feel I’m competitive”.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Quartararo enjoyed one of his stronger weekends on the weak Yamaha package in 2024 in front of his home crowd at Le Mans, qualifying eighth and fighting inside the top eight in the grand prix.

The 2021 world champion was running sixth when he crashed out at Turn 9 on lap 17 of 27, but walked away from it still content with what he was able to do on the M1 last Sunday.

“To be honest, I’m happy,” he said.

“I’m happy because it’s the first race this year that I feel I’m competitive and I’m fighting with riders I used to fight with in the past, like Aleix [Espargaro].

“I was seeing Maverick [Vinales] and Marc [Marquez] in front of me. 10 laps to the end, I crashed.

“So, I feel happy and unfortunately, we crashed, but being in this position in P6 without many crashes in front of me was the first time.

“So, I gave it everything and I wanted the maximum. Unfortunately, we crashed but we gave it our 100%.”

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Yamaha tried a new set-up on Quartararo’s bike that, he said, it expected to offer him a completely different feeling.

However, he felt the changes made the bike only a little better but enough to have a positive impact and perhaps become his base setting going forward.

“We made a massive change on the bike [in warm-up] that the team expected for me to say ‘it’s completely different’ or ‘bad’ or something – they expected me to feel a big difference, but I felt a small difference in a better way,” he explained.

“So we raced with this bike. For me, it looks like it’s going to be our new base.

“And after [Monday] we will have two days of testing in Mugello, so we will have also the chance to compare in totally different tracks.

“But today I think I was riding really, really well and hopefully we can carry on.”

On the benefits of the new set-up, Quartararo added: “Little bit of grip, especially going in but slightly.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Marc Fleury

“But clearly, we got the ideas of what to improve, but it’s going to take time.

“The electronic [setting] we are using, or how we are using it, is not in a good way.

“But we are learning step by step. You can see from Turn 5 to Turn 6 that our bike is always moving a lot compared to the guys who were in front.

“Our bike is super heavy, it’s not turning. But step by step we are trying to improve these things and I think we are going in a good way.”

Quartararo, who sits 12th in the standings on 25 points after five rounds, says battling at the sharp end again was a mental boost – more so than his shock sprint podium at Jerez (which was then stripped from him for a tyre pressure infringement) as his French GP performance was genuine pace.

“For me, mentally, it was good,” he noted.

“This is why, of course, I’m frustrated to not finish the race, but for me to battle with Aleix, to see that at the end the podium guys were in front, then Marc [Marquez] pulled away.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Marc Fleury

“But I was able to see them not too far and my pace was not too bad, because in Jerez, yes, we made a good sprint but half of them crashed in front of me and I did a really good start.

“But today was the first race where really we were able to fight.

“This, mentally, is good and step by step we are improving. It’s going to be a long way but we will arrive.”

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