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Can Quartararo beat Marquez over race distance?

The young Frenchman has been incredibly fast during race runs throughout the weekend, as he looks to challenge for victory at Mugello

In what was a classic MotoGP™ at Mugello, the Gran Premio D’Italia Oakley looks set to be a classic, with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) already duking it out in qualifying. The Rookie Frenchman became the first rider ever in the history of Grand Prix to lap the 5.2km in under 1’46s, before Marc Marquez eventually struck back in the dying moments.

Whilst suffering a top speed deficit, the Yamahas – and in particular Quartararo – seem to have one of the best handling bikes throughout the rest of the lap, with Yamahas featuring inside the top three in all of the sectors besides the final sector, where Quartararo was losing time in FP4. The 20-year-old and his teammate Franco Morbidelli were the fastest in sector three, with Quartararo nearly two tenths faster than eventual pole-sitter Marquez.

With his second MotoGP™ front row start, Quartararo will hope to convert it into a career-first podium on Sunday afternoon, or even a surprise victory. “It was an incredible qualifying session,” said the Rookie, with his second-place grid slot. “They were some really good laps in qualifying, I didn’t expect to go that fast but I’m really happy about how it went because we managed to make three laps under 1:46.”

MotoGP™ Q2 in Italy: the melee for pole

Quartararo’s FP4 pace was incredibly quick, lapping faster than the fastest laps of the years gone by and consistently lapping quicker than Marc Marquez too. Speaking of his pace again, ‘El Diablo’ continued, saying: “I’m really happy to be in the 45s for three laps in a row, it’s amazing, but Marc managed to make an amazing lap. Of course, tomorrow will be a tough race, but we are ready, and our pace is not so bad.

“Our goal is still to be in the top eight. We make three top eights so far and step-by-step, we will try improving. If a podium happens it’ll be a plus but we’re focusing on a top seven.

“At the moment, the race hasn’t start, so I’m staying calm. We have good points on the bike and negative points, but I think the bike in the turning is good. It’s so good in the fast corners. For sure, I will need to push a little bit more on the first laps as it’ll be a big group, but as soon as the group is separated, maybe six riders, I think I will go easier on the tyres to save them.”

The 20-year-old Rookie has only secured one finish at Mugello, with fifth place in 2016 Moto3™. Will he be able to take another top five, this time in the premier class?

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