Fabio Quartararo makes official MotoGP debut with fifth fastest time, Morbidelli finishes seventh despite FP2 spill.
The PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders produced standout performances on the opening night of the 2019 season at the Losail International Circuit, with Fabio Quartararo finishing fifth fastest in free practice and his teammate Franco Morbidelli overcoming a crash to take seventh. As both riders backed up their good form at the test last week and booked provisional places in tomorrow night’s Q2.
Morbidelli set a best lap of 1’55.324 in the first free practice session of the weekend. The Italian kicking off his second season in the premier class in style on the new YZR-M1 as he established himself amongst the lead riders in seventh place. Meanwhile, Quartararo’s rookie campaign started in a creditable eleventh place in FP1, just four tenths off the top in a time of 1’55.509.
The positive early signs continued in the second session as both Quartararo (1’54.154) and Morbidelli (1’54.275) improved their FP1 best, by 1.4 seconds and 0.9 seconds respectively. Morbidelli escaped unhurt from a crash in turn 1 with twenty minutes remaining and returned to the track to post his best lap of the night.
After a fantastic opening night, work continues for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT at the Qatar Grand Prix tomorrow, with two further free practice sessions and qualifying sessions – at 20:00h and 20:25h local time – to decide the first starting grid of the season.
1. MARC MARQUEZ / Honda 1:53.380
2. MAVERICK VIÑALES / Yamaha 1:53.854
3. JACK MILLER / Ducati 1:53.908
4. DANILO PETRUCCI / Ducati 1:54.053
5. FABIO QUARTARARO / PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team 1:54.154
7. FRANCO MORBIDELLI / PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team 1:54.275
#21 Franco Morbidelli
“I felt comfortable over the first few laps tonight and my race rhythm was decent. We’ll have to have a look at what everybody else’s was like but I was happy with mine. We still have plenty of room for improvement so that’s what we have to do. The important thing for tomorrow is to understand the situation and figure out the right way to go with the bike to close the gap to the fastest guys. As for the crash, I was trying to understand a new aspect of the setting that we were trying and it was my first lap, so I think I just went too hard into turn one on used tyres and ended up crashing. Maybe the tyre wasn’t quite ready for me to push so hard, so basically it was my own fault. After the crash we were able to rediscover the feeling very easily and I was able to go fast with the new setting on the second bike. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do many laps on it and we would have liked to have done more on used tyres, which was the plan. Despite that, we were able to get a few laps in so we do at least have some information to work from.”
#20 Fabio Quartararo
“We have managed to maintain a good pace and in particular a fast lap time. I didn’t feel so good on the first tyre but I did have a full tank at that point. After that we tried another tyre and I actually made a few mistakes on my fast lap so it was a surprise to see that I had managed a 54.1, which means I could even have managed a high 53 or an even lower 54. I am really happy with the pace we have set tonight and the job the team has done. We need to stay calm and keep working in the same way. I have felt good so far in the two free practice sessions. In FP3 tomorrow we will have to take the heat into account and then in FP4 focus on our race pace. Then we’ll see what happens in qualifying.”