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Yes, you guessed it! It’s Thursday which means it’s time to strap in for another episode of the MotoGP™ Podcast, with hosts Matt Dunn and Fran Wyld being joined by motogp.com pitlane reporter Simon Crafar and guest analyst John Hopkins to debrief the French GP.
The Le Mans weekend was a special few days for a certain 20-year-old rookie who is taking MotoGP™ by storm – Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo. The Frenchman finished 8th at his home Grand Prix after a couple of mistakes in the opening stages dropped him down to as low as 17th. But, having podium pace allowed Quartararo to claw his way back into the top ten. Hopkins shares his thoughts on the Yamaha rider’s weekend.
“He was my dark horse pick for race winner,” comments Hopkins in this week’s Podcast. “I thought he was going to surpass the whole podium thing and actually go for the race win this weekend with his performances throughout the course of the weekend. But should've, would've, could've performance.
“He definitely had the pace to run with and match Marquez mid-race on but that beginning cost him so dearly. I know it was really cold and obviously people had issues, seemingly even on the sighting lap! But that was just a shame to see him drop as low as 17th at one stage in the race! That hurt him, so badly. From mid-race on he was running the exact same, if not better lap times than Marquez.
“I know exactly what that's like chasing your first ever MotoGP podium and that feeling when you finally get it. Honestly, it's like getting the monkey off your back,” continues the American, who achieved four podiums in his GP career.
“I think once he gets that first podium, all that weight will be lifted off his shoulders and the results will flood in from then. His talent's tremendous, he's obviously on a competitive machine and he's consistently one of the top Yamahas throughout all the sessions, and all these tracks. It's weird, it's like everything almost prevents you from getting that first podium. You make little mistakes, you have little bike problems. It's the strangest feeling but once it happens I'm certain all the podium results will flood in from there and he'll be a consistent top runner.”
Watch the battles you missed in the SHARK Helmets French GP
Incredibly, Quartararo has yet to crash a MotoGP™ bike. That includes all the preseason tests too…something everyone, including Hopkins, is hugely impressed by: “To not have a crash at this point in the season as a rookie is amazing because as they say if you're not crashing, you're not going fast enough. Because you obviously have to find the limit, at some stage. It just shows there's that much more pace within him.”
Hopkins also offers his words on Repsol Honda Team’s Jorge Lorenzo, who achieved his best Honda result of the season in Le Mans.
“It was a step forward in his race result but it's not where he or Honda want him to finish. He's still clearly finding his feet with Honda and getting to grips with it and make the bike work for him. That's a track he loves and had huge success at in the past. All the hype leading up to the weekend as well it's almost like he's putting too much pressure on himself to perform.
“You look at his social media accounts and interviews and he's obviously hyping himself up, wanting to get that podium and be a top finisher and as the weekend progresses, again it works against you. Because you start getting flustered, getting worked up and telling yourself 'why am I not at the front? If he's doing it, why can't I do it?' That was always a big thing with myself, I was always saying 'if they're doing it, why can't I?'. It can work for you sometimes, but it can also work against you sometimes.”
Listen to this week’s MotoGP™ Podcast – and every other episode – right here!