MotoGP Assen: ‘Mythical track, every rider wants to win’ - Quartararo| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Fabio Quartararo began his Assen weekend by unveiling his place on the city’s ‘Walk of Fame’ due to his victory last year.
“Assen is a track that, from my point of view is mythical and is a track that every rider wants to win, like Mugello, Phillip Island. Is some tracks that are super special, from my side and you have this thing on the street of Assen is something super special,” Quartararo said of the new dedication.
Having begun 2022 fearing his Yamaha M1 wouldn’t be up to the task of defending his MotoGP title due to a top speed deficit, the Monster Energy rider sits 34 points clear in the standings at the half way stage.
“Has been a great first part of the season,” he confirmed from the Dutch TT paddock. “Qatar, Argentina and Austin was quite tough. I think like I said many times, I was complaining a little bit too much about my top speed and I was not focused on my riding. Then when we arrived to Europe I could really focus on riding, made great, great results and, of course, from Portugal to now we have made almost all the time podium, just in Le Mans we finished fourth.
“I think that we made a great, great first ten races, exactly same points as last year on that stage, so I think we are on a great way.”
When asked for his highlight so far, the Frenchman had a few to choose from.
“Of course the win in Portugal, because when you come from really tough moments and you win, in Portugal was I think one of the best,” he answered before continuing, “but of course, Sachsenring I never really expect to win on that kind of track and then yes, of course the victories, the podiums, the race of Mugello, where I was struggling all the weekend. So yeah, it was pretty great races in Europe.”
While Assen comes as the last race before the summer break, the North European weather could throw a less-than-summery feel to the action.
“I think on Monday or Tuesday, looked like was full rain Friday, Saturday, Sunday but today I’ve just seen that it changed for Saturday and Sunday with better weather,” the Yamaha rider said of the weekend’s expectations. “Now I think I improve quite a lot my riding on the wet but when you arrive to one kind of track like Assen you want to have a dry track, because for me, it’s one of the tracks you enjoy the most. I think is quite one of the most mythical circuits of the calendar so we hope a dry, race.
“Aleix [Espargaro], you never know what to expect because already last year here he was fast,” he continued on his current closest rival in the title fight. “Every track he come he make a massive, massive step. Of course he will be there to fight on top because I think since the beginning of the season, he’s always really in the top five/top six. Apart from Austin he has always made top results so I expect him to fight for the podium.”
While the Aprilia rider has been a sensation this season, there has been another rider quietly chipping away consistently, Pramac’s Johann Zarco. Despite not standing on the top step, the Frenchman is the highest placed Ducati rider, 61 points adrift of his fellow countryman.
“I think both of us didn’t start the season like we did in 2021,” Quartararo said of Zarco. “But then when we arrived to Europe, I think we both make a big step and I think we share a lot of podiums. Of course if you check the last five/six races, Johann has always been on the top, fighting for the podium so of course he’s, for me, the most consistent right now of Ducati.
“It will be great to have a fight like last year for the championship, like the first half in 2021 and I don’t understand why he’s not going also to the full factory.”
While all eyes are on the championship fight and who’s going where for 2023, there’s another rider on Yamaha’s radar. WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu finally got his hands on the M1 earlier this week with a private test at Aragon, and Quartararo is fully aware of the Turk’s potential.
“For me, he’s an extremely talented rider,” the 23-year-old said of Razgatlioglu. “You can see on his riding style, how much he push the bike. I’ve seen also a save he did in Estoril, I think, on the last chicane. The way he’s riding the Yamaha on the limit, I think he has the potential to jump in MotoGP. Of course it’s a total different story than Superbike. I think he knows from the test of Aragon that is much more rigid bike, much more different to ride. But for sure if he’s in full motivation and he can really be on MotoGP, I think he can be a really fast rider.”