MotoGP Phillip Island: Quartararo apologises, ‘Thailand was tough’

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo addressed the MotoGP media from Phillip Island on Thursday for the first time since the Thai GP.

Apologising for swerving the post race commitments at Buriram a fortnight ago, the reigning champion explained the mistake that lead to a ‘tough race’ while brushing off the disappointment as he looked towards a much more favourable circuit for the YZR-M1.

“I expect much better race, of course,” Quartararo said of the rain-struck race which saw him cross the line outside of the points. “We made a mistake from the beginning, starting from really high [tyre] pressure and at the end of the race, of course it was tough.

“I took the decision not to talk to media. I apologise to all the people that were in Thailand. It was especially tough, no feeling and yeah, that was a tough one.”

Switching his attention to Australia and the 4.5km fast and flowing Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, the Frenchman’s spirits were immediately lifted.

“Is one of my favourite tracks actually,” he confirmed. “Really fast. 2019, I twist my ankle in FP1, I couldn’t make a lot of practice and second corner, I just went to the grass so not a lot of experience, but really looking forward to be here again.

“First of all the place is quite unique. In MotoGP, you don’t have that much time to look but in Moto3, you can see really the water and everything. Really, really fast corners - turn three, seven, eight, nine, last corner, it’s really fast and I think that’s why we like it.”

While the circuit is high on every rider’s list, conditions at Phillip Island can be challenging and unpredictable. Thursday has already seen the track flooded after heavy rain ahead of the weekend but despite his recent wet weather difficulties, Quartararo is unfazed.

“This year in every wet condition - okay, Indonesia was pretty special because I never felt that good on the wet - but in Portimao in practice, I was feeling good. Japan I was not so great, but I was feeling also good and we clearly had a mistake in Thailand. So actually I’m not really worried, just we know what happened and we are ready if it rains.

“Actually, you know, it was pretty funny because in the beginning of the year when we arrived to Barcelona, Mugello, we say ‘Oh, is going to be tough tracks’ and actually we take 45 point out of 50. Every track we say is going to be okay, we always make something strange so actually I don’t really see that ‘good track or bad track’, I think is for everybody the same.”

With three races left of 2022 the title race is as tight as it’s ever been. Just two points separate the Yamaha rider from Ducati’s main challenger, Pecco Bagnaia, with five riders within 40 points, and 75 still up for grabs. While the task is tough, especially compared to the 91-point advantage he held earlier in the season, he is utilising his previous championship-winning experience to keep him calm and grounded as the fight intensifies.

“We have to think about the championship!” Quartararo confirmed. “But actually, I want to take it race by race because at the end is like the beginning of the championship right now.

“We are almost equal points with Pecco, but I don’t only see Pecco. Of course, Aleix [Espargaro] is here, Jack [Miller], Enea [Bastianini]. So we are five in not a lot of points. Okay, top three is a little bit more close but I think we have to think race by race and I think this one can be a good one for us.

“2020 was a year where I was fast, we had of course problems in Yamaha but apart from that, I was always looking at my first rival, that was I think, Joan [Mir] at that stage. And actually last year, that I won, I needed to be fast in all the circumstances and having the title from last year it brings me a lot of confidence, and much more experience. So of course the experience of the last two years helps me a lot to be calm in this situation.”