Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) season continues to go from strength to strength. On a track that typically doesn’t favour the YZR-M1, the rookie sensation was able to claim Yamaha’s second podium at the Red Bull Ring after taking the chequered flag in P3 in Sunday’s myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich.
The Frenchman launched from P2 but lost out to Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) into Turn 1. However, with the Ducati rider and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) running wide at Turn 3, Quartararo was able to sweep through and lead the race in Austria. The 20-year-old kept the two giants behind him for as long as possible and stuck with the runaway duo for as long as he could. But, while he didn’t have the pace for the win, Quartararo will take a third-place finish at the Red Bull Ring all day long as he now sits top of the Independent Team Rider’s Championship.
“We never expected to lead the race,” began Quartararo, who now sits on 92 points – just 10 off Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and 11 off Viñales’ teammate Valentino Rossi. “I made a really good start, losing only one position, and in the braking zone Marc and Dovi were really close and I managed to get into first and lead the race,” continued ‘El Diablo’.
“It wasn’t easy as I exited with the soft tyre and I still don’t have experience of taking care of the rear tyre. But this race I took a lot of experience by picking up the bike in the fast corners. Finally, we finished on the podium and as the first Yamaha.
“I was the only Yamaha to go with the soft tyre today and I managed to lose the lap time but by not so much from the beginning to the end. In the beginning you have more grip but, in the end, you have less fuel so you can brake later, so that’s something that I learnt a lot today because this is one of the tracks with the most aggressive braking. So, it’s so good to be on the podium at a track that is one of the most difficult for me on the calendar.”
This was the 20-year-old’s 11th premier class race and, as Quartararo mentioned, getting a podium on a track that doesn’t suit the Yamaha is a phenomenal achievement. In addition, what’s even more impressive about Quartararo’s performance, is the speed charts. Top speed wise, the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider sits bottom, 3.4km/h slower than Hafizh Syahrin’s Red Bull KTM Tech 3 and a full 14.2km/h slower than Dovizioso and Marquez. The speed difference was highlighted when Dovi blasted past Quartararo on the start-finish straight to take the lead, with Marquez then making the Yamaha look like a sitting duck immediately after on the run down to Turn 3.
On a much slower machine – at least in a straight line – Quartararo still produced the goods. And, according to the man himself, he couldn’t have done any better: “I made no mistakes, which impressed me. Normally in the race you will make a small mistake, going wide somewhere, but during all the race I never missed the braking point or the apex once. So that’s something that’s really pleased me, as when you do 28 laps without a mistake it shows that you’re really strong and physically, I’m feeling good.”
Silverstone is up next for Quartararo, who will head to the British GP confident of challenging for podium number four of his rookie campaign.
“For sure, Silverstone is a track that looks like it will suit the Yamaha. We will try to do our best. It’s good to go to Silverstone after a podium here.”