Regardless of what happens at the last stop on the calendar, in Valencia , where Pecco Bagnaia has it all in his face to give Ducati the second drivers’ title in its history, no one in the entire MotoGP paddock has any doubt that Fabio Quartararo He has performed this season well above the bike he has ridden. That becomes very evident when you compare his stats with those of the other three riders competing on the same bike. Aside from being the only one of them who has won and been on the podium (eight times), the Devil accumulates 235 points out of the total of 308 that all Yamaha riders share, a proportion of 76.3%.
In line with the numerical issue, most opponents are not short on praise for him either. “ What Fabio [Quartararo] has done this year is incredible. He has a motorcycle with which he can go fast in training, when he rides alone. But in the race he doesn’t give him the option to fight,” said Marc Márquez, last weekend. of week, from Sepang.
There, the #20 performed one of his best performances of the course, managing to get on the podium in a circuit that maximizes the lack of power of his prototype, especially when measured short with the Ducati and their enormous speed. To the technical limitation we must add the physical one, in the form of a fracture in the middle finger of the left hand, as a result of the fall that the boy from Nice suffered on Saturday.
Probably, there is no more rigorous testimony to value Quartararo’s feat than that of Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha tester and who from Aragon replaces Andrea Dovizioso in the satellite team, sponsored by WithU. The Briton knows almost better than anyone that M1, its strengths and shortcomings, and not only because of the many kilometers he has driven with it in the test days, but also because of his ‘forced’ return to racing. ” We need a bike that is capable of putting up a fight against the others, because now we can only go fast if we ride alone. We lack speed on the straight to be able to overtake,” stressed the Coventry rider , also from Malaysia.
The figure of Crutchlow takes on capital importance if we take into account that he is in charge of the development of the motorcycle with which Yamaha must convince Quartararo that he did the right thing by renewing his commitment for another two exercises, until 2024. According to both parties, That signature materialized after the maker of the tuning forks committed to his star to make the necessary extra effort to give him the weapons he needs to fight for the title without having to do it in inferiority. The priority, how could it be otherwise, is focused on gaining power from the propellant. Those responsible for the Japanese manufacturer are aware of the urgency and the need, not to say the obligation, not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
In a chat with Motorsport.com at the Yamaha office in Sepang, Lin Jarvis , director of the brand, detailed where most of the problems that have caused so many headaches for the defending champion come from. Everything responds to a technical setback that during the winter led the engineers to make a conservative decision to avoid greater evils.
“We had a reliability problem with the unit that we had to introduce this 2022, and that we were developing during 2021. That is why we could not homologate it. It does not make sense to use a more powerful engine if it is not reliable,” Jarvis resolved to who writes these lines. ” Obviously the first problem we faced was having to tell Fabio, as world champion. This year he has raced with the same level of power as in 2021, and he obviously didn’t like that.”
Listening to Jarvis’s arguments, it becomes easier to understand that Quartararo has been so respectful towards Yamaha at all times, despite having to race at a disadvantage. He already showed up in Qatar knowing it and, furthermore, the great first half of the season he had, with three wins and six podiums out of a possible ten, led him to dream of retaining the crown, before Ducati’s reaction, personified in Bagnaia, brought him back to reality.
“Fabio could have been much tougher on us than he has been, and for that we thank him,” Jarvis reckons. To correct this lack of punch, the company has put itself in the hands of engine specialist Luca Marmorini , who not only seeks to eliminate that fragility that prevented the use of the specification planned for this 2022, but also to increase its muscle a little more. “ There are times when you have to hit rock bottom to get stronger, and that’s why we signed the Marmorini group this January, to try to straighten out the biggest weakness of the bike,” says the executive.
To ensure the shot, Yamaha works on several lines of development, to try to find an engine that is as close as possible to the ideal. Crutchlow will travel to Jerez this Friday and Saturday, where his main mission in these two days of training will be to fine-tune that propellant, with the intention of making Quartararo see that the reaction he has been asking for for so long is materializing.
“We have gone through four engine evolutions. There is no clear direction yet. The definitive version may not be ready in Valencia. We need more power, we need more top speed. But we also need other things that cannot be achieved in a week”, Crutchlow pointed out, before traveling to Spain.
Yamaha faces a decisive stage. From the test on Tuesday after the Valencia Grand Prix, and until the next championship begins to roll in Portimão, at the end of March, the team’s technical division has to give its spearhead enough guarantees to remove it from the head the slightest possibility of starting to think about changing the scene. Above all, if we take into account the speed with which the market moves. Most of the top runners start a two-year cycle with their respective teams in 2023, but as things progress, grid planning for 2025 will start to take shape before the next summer break. By then, Yamaha must already have shown Quartararo that it is indeed in a position to offer him what he deserves.