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In 2020, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) is one of the most talked-about riders on the MotoGP™ grid. But just over two years ago, that certainly wasn’t the case for the reigning premier class Rookie of the Year and speaking on MotoGP™’s latest Instagram live, the Frenchman opens up on the 2018 Moto2™ campaign that saw him go from P28 to P1.
Firstly, Quartararo is asked about what felt better – his maiden Grand Prix win or his first podium in MotoGP™. “Honestly the first victory was really good because after many years of bad results and bad situations, tough years let’s say – from the middle of 2015 to 2018 I was not feeling very good let’s say.
“Mentally I was really up and down and finally when we arrived in Barcelona I got pole position, the fastest lap of the race and won the race so that will always be one of my best memories. For sure the first podium in MotoGP was also really special.”
Quartararo then chats about that Catalan GP victory in 2018, a win that ultimately bagged him a MotoGP™ ride for 2019 with Petronas Yamaha SRT. The celebrations were understandably wild in parc ferme, but did he plan the ‘salt bae’ reaction over the line for months before?
“Honestly it was the first thing that I thought about. It was the first time I’d really led the Moto2 race and you know, it was so stressful the last five laps and I was thinking about things that was not possible to think during the race,” admitted Quartararo. “I don’t exactly remember but nothing about racing – like what I will eat for dinner or something like that. And I was in the race… the situation was something I’d never had and actually at the end of the race I was feeling so good because it was a really tough moment.
“It was the passion of all the team,” continued the 21-year-old, talking about the parc ferme scenes in Barcelona. “In Mugello we struggled a lot with the speed, the Speed Up was 10km slower than the Kalex and the KTM and I told my crew chief that if we are fast on the straight in Barcelona, I can win the race. And he said ‘ok’ and he worked day and night to make something, and I got the win so that was even better for the team. Actually it was a cool year because we start really at the bottom, and we finished in a really good way.”
The Barcelona victory was just reward for ‘El Diablo’ and his team’s effort in the opening few months of 2018. Quartararo had three different suspension manufacturers that season and in Argentina qualified 28th, crossing the line on Sunday in 22nd. Fast forward from April the 8th to June the 17th and the number 20 was a Grand Prix race winner, with a MotoGP™ contract coming his way soon after.
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“Yeah it was so quick but also the year was so strange. We changed suspension manufacturer three times, we started in Qatar with Ohlins and it was like starting pre-season again. We were P28 in Argentina, I said “what am I doing here, come on, wake up” and at the end, step by step, I improved myself, the bike, the team and yeah it was a really fun year. Like I said it was from the bottom to the top and actually I had the best teammate ever – I was with Danny (Kent) and every time we weren’t racing we were having fun and it was a really fun year.”