Ninth for Quartararo in Tough MotoGP Season Opener

Ninth for Quartararo in Tough MotoGP Season Opener
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Ninth for Quartararo in Tough MotoGP Season Opener
MotoGP made its highly anticipated return to action this weekend at the Losail International Circuit with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo kicking off his title-defending season with a top-ten finish.

It was a beautiful night at the Losail International Circuit – the perfect setting for the first race of the 2022 season. The anticipation was palpable on the grid as the 24 riders were preparing themselves to dive into the first turn.

Starting the opening race of the year from 11th, World Champion Fabio Quartararo made a blistering start, temporarily moving himself to seventh, before slipping back to eighth at the end of lap one. Trying to hang on to the leading group, Quartararo couldn’t defend anymore, dropped back to tenth, but when Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin crashed out, the Frenchman was back inside the top eight. Controlling his medium rear tyre, the Frenchman stormed on and ultimately took the chequered flag in ninth place, after being narrowly beaten to the line by compatriot Johann Zarco.

On the other side of the garage, Franco Morbidelli had a difficult start amongst the mid-field, dropping to 16th position at the end of the opening lap and later lost a further position. Determined to score a solid result at the 3.34-mile Qatari venue, the Italian pressed on. The rider from Rome was elevated to 11th courtesy of crashes for his rivals. With a clear track ahead of him, the 27-year-old settled into his rhythm and crossed the line in 11th place, securing five points in his season-opening Grand Prix.

WithU Yamaha RNF Racing got their 2022 campaign underway with Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder finishing the 22-lap race in 14th and 16th places respectively.

Dovizioso, who started the Grand Prix in 20th, made a strong start, sitting in 17th at the end of the first lap. Aiming for points, he pushed on. Twice a winner previously in Qatar, he got muscled back to 21st by lap five, but that didn’t faze the experienced Italian. Following crashes for rivals, the 35-year-old was back in the points with five laps remaining. Locked in battle with compatriot Luca Marini, Dovizioso fractionally missed out on 13th, ultimately finishing the Grand Prix with two points in 14th.

MotoGP rookie Darryn Binder had an impressive debut in the top-flight. Starting from the back of a grid after a late Q1 crash ended the South African’s session, Binder made a cautious start, aiming to stay out of trouble in the hectic opening lap. Settling into his first MotoGP race, the former Moto3 race-winner continued to make progress and was in the points by the halfway stage. A last-lap battle with fellow rookie Remy Gardner saw the Yamaha man miss out on a debut point by 0.012 seconds – finishing 16th.

The MotoGP paddock head to MotoGP’s newest venue in two weeks’ time, as the series returns to Indonesia for the first time in 25-years at the Mandalika International Street Circuit in Lombok, Indonesia.

Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, 9th
“I had a good start, but from the start the tyre pressure was super high. That was a bit strange but I pushed to the maximum, and I expected to have a bit better pace. We couldn't do better than this today. Of course, we had hoped for more today, but my job is to be 100% prepared and focused for every race. I always give my 100% in every position: whether I‘m fighting for the victory or P3, P5, P15. I do my best, regardless of what position I‘m in.”

Franco Morbidelli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, 11th
“It was a difficult race. We struggled this weekend in terms of rear grip. That prevented us from having a wonderful performance. Speaking about my race: I had a really poor start. I wasn't cunning enough to make the right moves in the first laps, and I lost a lot of time. And then when I picked up my pace, I was not so bad. I was close to my maximum, that felt good. The problem is that our maximum was not enough to be on top this weekend. But it's just the first round. We know Qatar is a particular track and a particular weekend, so we move forward. We keep in mind the problems that we have, and we'll work on them for sure. But we go to Mandalika with the same energy as always, we will try to do a good job there, and then we‘ll see where we stand there.”

Andrea Dovizioso – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team, 14th
“I can’t be happy. At the beginning of the race, I was gaining some positions, but I had a problem with the front pressure, I couldn’t stop the bike, I almost crashed three times and I went out from the track two times. I was losing a lot, but after that when I was alone the pressure becomes acceptable and I was able to push again and start to do a normal lap time. But anyway, my speed is still not good, you have to ride the bike in a specific way or you will use even more of the tyre, even if you are not that fast also. I can’t be satisfied about that, so we have to study and try to understand what we have to do.”

Darryn Binder - WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team, 16th
“We finished off the first race in Qatar and overall I’m quite happy. It’s been a difficult weekend with loads of learning curve, there’s not a lot of time in a race weekend to get everything together. Yesterday in the Qualifying I messed up, so today I just wanted to take it step by step and learn as much as I could. I got off to quite an ok start, I was pretty fast in the beginning, so I was making some passes and I was pushing too much for a couple of laps. By lap five I needed to take a step back and find my feet because I had a long race ahead of me. I had a nice battle with Remy (Gardner), I really enjoyed fighting with the rookies, I learned so much throughout the race and by the end, I really wanted to fight for 15th, for the point, but I just missed out. Overall, at least I finished the race, I got 22 laps under my belt now, I know what to expect for next weekend and try again.“

Massimo Meregalli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Team Director
“We already knew that this race would be difficult after yesterday‘s qualifying, but we are still disappointed with today‘s result. Coming to this track, we had higher expectations than what materialised this weekend. Both riders experienced unusually high tyre pressure almost immediately from the beginning of the race. This prohibited them from being on the attack like they normally would. We will be investigating why this happened. Fabio had a great start and that played to his benefit. He did the best he could do considering the circumstances. Franco struggled a bit at the start but then got into a steadier rhythm. We have to make steps for the next round and make sure we are closer to the front, where we belong.”

Razlan Razali – WithU Yamaha RNF Racing Team, Team Principal
“I think it was a good race day for us. We are extremely happy with what Darryn has done to be fighting with all the rookies and losing out to Remy, who is the Moto2 World Champion. While having a point would have been nice, but the experience of finishing this race battling with the other rookies is much more valuable than that one point. There is more potential in what Darryn can do in the upcoming races. With Andrea, he needs to find ways to do better. Already from the feedback that he has given, there’s room for him to improve in the next races. In general we’re happy to be finishing this weekend with some points, we look forward for the next race.”

MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix Race Results:
1. Enea Bastianini – Gresini Racing MotoGP
2. Brad Binder – Red Bull Factory KTM Racing +0.346
3. Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team +1.351
4. Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia Racing +2.242
5. Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team +4.099
6. Joan Mir – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +4.843
7. Alex Rins – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +8.810
8. Johann Zarco – Pramac Racing +10.536
9. Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +10.543
10. Takaaki Nakagami – LCR Honda IDMETISU +14.967
11. Franco Morbidelli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +16.712
12. Maverick Viñales – Aprilia Racing +23.216
13. Luca Marini - Mooney VR46 Racing Team +27.283
14. Andrea Dovizioso – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team +27.283
15. Remy Gardner – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +41.107
16. Darryn Binder – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team +41.119
17. Fabio Di Giannantonio – Gresini Racing MotoGP +41.349
18. Raul Fernandez – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +42.357
NC. Alex Marquez – LCR Honda Castrol 9 laps
NC. Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team 11 laps
NC. Jorge Martin – Pramac Racing 11 laps
NC. Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 10 laps
NC. Marco Bezzecchi – Mooney VR46 Racing Team 6 laps
NC. Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team 6 laps

2022 MotoGP World Championship Standings
1. Enea Bastianini - Gresini Racing MotoGP 25 points
2. Brad Binder – Red Bull Factory KTM Racing 20 points
3. Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team 16 points
4. Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia Racing 13 laps
5. Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team 11 points
6. Joan Mir – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 10 points
7. Alex Rins – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 9 points
8. Johann Zarco – Pramac Racing 8 points
9. Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 7 points
10. Takaaki Nakagami – LCR Honda IDEMITSU 6 points
11. Franco Morbidelli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 5 points
12. Maverick Viñales – Aprilia Racing 4 points
13. Luca Marini – Mooney VR46 Racing Team 3 points
14. Andrea Dovizioso – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team 2 points
15. Remy Gardner – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 1 point
16. Darryn Binder – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team
17. Fabio Di Giannantonio – Gresini Racing MotoGP 0 points
18. Raul Fernandez – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 0 points
19. Alex Marquez – LCR Honda Castrol 0 points
20. Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team 0 points
21. Jorge Martin – Pramac Racing 0 points
22. Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0 points
23. Marco Bezzecchi – Mooney VR46 Racing Team 0 points
24. Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team 0 points