MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo said he and Yamaha were “very far behind the others” in qualifying and he was desperate for a solution.
Quartararo will start this weekend’s race at Misano with a modest eighth place, having completed 0.347 seconds from pole in a mixed-weather session that nevertheless ended with a virtually dry track surface.
The Frenchman is known as a qualifying specialist, having become MotoGP’s youngest poleman in his first year and then winning the BMW M Award for the best qualifying record of the season in 2020 and his victorious 2021 season.
Still, his qualifying record in 2022 has been a sharp drop, Quartararo has been on pole just once and on top four more times this season so far.
“I’ve only had one pole position this year. Indonesia, new track, because the conditions were tricky and we had the new tire [with a revised carcass]that we didn’t have the test and that we had to adapt quickly.
“But we are super far from the others. In one run.
“At the end it’s disappointing,” he said of his eighth-place finish. “We always fight with the same guys, but they [the Ducatis] are fast, the bike is the benchmark right now. But of course it’s hard. Because today I gave my 100%. I gave the best of myself.
“But it’s only P8. It’s only three tenths, but it’s P8 and really disappointing.
Ducati had six bikes in the top seven in qualifying, with Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales – a former Quartararo team-mate – the only ‘intruder’, fifth fastest.
Quartararo admitted that the qualifying situation was special. As the track dried out it “took many laps to really get there” in terms of confidence, and the water meant he had to stay out of the curbs.
“In these conditions I couldn’t go on the pavement in some corners, so I couldn’t really carry the speed like you have to on the Yamaha, and we have no acceleration.
“Of [Turns] 6 to 7 wasn’t great. [Turn] 15 I had to take less speed in the corners because I couldn’t really use the curb.
“I’m disappointed but it’s still the same problem [lack of top speed] and I’m starting to have a lot less fun than before, and a solution has to be found.
If Quartararo recovered from what looked to be an equally precarious situation at the Red Bull Ring – starting behind four Ducatis but climbing back to second place, a charge completed by a sumptuous pass over Jack Miller in the chicane – he did not didn’t seem convinced. to rush through the peloton this Sunday, despite a steady race pace.
“This year, the most important thing is qualifying. Because right now I’m already thinking – if I have the pace that I think we have, a fast enough pace – where I can overtake. Because there’s nowhere I can overtake…in turn 8, in turn 1, maybe turn 4, but it’s still a question mark.
“But of course for a lap you need grip, Ducati has a lot of that, but they can combine it with power, that’s something we have to use.”
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