Fabio Quartararo (Nice, 24 years old) has not tasted the sweetness of victory for almost a year. His situation is similar to that of the other champions of the event who ride Japanese machines. If the Hondas have been performing well below the European factories for a long time, with Joan Mir and Marc Márquez fighting between constant falls, the situation for Yamaha begins to despair of the 2021 champion, a local idol this weekend at the French GP. Despite the heat from the public, one of the most faithful and loudest in the event, the most popular rider in the World Cup —according to a survey carried out by MotoGP last year— is crude about the team’s situation.
“It’s my worst moment since I’ve been racing with Yamaha,” he admits from Le Mans, where he was twelfth on Friday, a position that forces him to go through the Q1 playoffs this Saturday. “Right now we are not prepared for victory,” he adds. The young banner of the brand with the three tuning forks was pointing to a great favorite to defend his title in 2022, when he reached the halfway point of the World Cup with a 91-point lead over Pecco Bagnaia, ultimately champion with Ducati after a scandalous comeback . Since last year’s German GP, his last win of the 11 he has accumulated in the premier class, the Frenchman’s collapse is flagrant. “We are not losing, it is that the others have taken giant steps. We are trying to change the mentality of Japanese engineers to emulate the Italian style ”, he resigns himself. At the appointment at his home he arrives in eleventh position in the table, 47 points behind number one and leader of the contest.
At Yamaha, as at Honda, they have been trying to hit the key for a long time without success. New chassis concepts have been tested that have not yet convinced their only benchmark and have gained some power, their great scourge in the final stretch of last year and the main request this winter. In the process, however, they have lost their balance and their greatest strength, stability and cornering.
“We are in an unprecedented situation,” says the Devil, who says he can’t drive as he knows how. Even after his only podium finish of the year, in Austin, he was critical of his mount for forcing him to go well over the limit to stay in the lead. “On the track, sometimes I scream under the helmet, I go crazy,” he acknowledged in an interview in La Gazzetta dello Sport. In team meetings, when they look for solutions, questions remain in the air: “Many times there is silence, nobody speaks, nobody knows why we suffer so much.”
“If Fabio were not at Yamaha, the disaster would be at the level of Honda. When you are very close to the limit, you do not have time or room for maneuver to investigate in other lines”, explained to EL PAÍS Ramón Forcada, one of the most reputable chief mechanics in the paddock, when the decline of the brand began to be sensed. This 65-year-old Catalan engineer worked from 2008 until last year for the Japanese factory, where he won three titles with Jorge Lorenzo. The Mallorcan ex-rider recently stated that he felt wasted when he experimented as a test rider, a key role as Dani Pedrosa and the KTMs demonstrated in Jerez. “He’s a legend, but I don’t think he could have changed anything. with Carl [Crutchlow, piloto de desarrollo de Yamaha] we work piecework”, agrees Quartararo.
As the Nice rider already pointed out to this newspaper in the last round of last year in Valencia, if Yamaha does not improve, he will think about other teams for 2025, when he is released from his current contract. The fastest this Friday at Le Mans was the Australian Jack Miller, from KTM. Marc Márquez, on his return to competition after a month and a half absence, managed to qualify directly for the fight for the pole position with an eighth place despite suffering two falls.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits