A weekend to remember for Fabio Quartararo, who was able to savour the taste of fighting for the top positions again on the Mandalika circuit. After directly qualifying in Q2, Yamaha's Achilles' heel, which saw him start from fourth place, the Frenchman gambled on the soft front to tackle what turned out to be a race fought out above all on tyre management.
After moving up the rankings, the rider from Nice managed to close the gap with the leaders Bagnaia and Vinales, and in the final laps he tried everything, without however managing to make the final push despite his pace being of the highest level. A third step of the podium, a success in any case and the best podium of the season according to the Frenchman: a boost in confidence before tackling the Australian weekend at Phillip Island.
“It was great! – Fabio declared – Especially the second part of the race. To be honest, my feeling this morning was not good in the first laps. On the warm-up lap I pushed a lot because we were struggling to heat up the rear tyre and then after 2-3 laps it was ok. Our pace in the middle part of the race was good and although I couldn’t try and overtake it was a great race. I think I was 3.5 seconds from Pecco at one stage of the race. To finish really close was good for us.”
It certainly hasn’t been an easy season for Fabio, who once again had the opportunity to demonstrate his talent in Indonesia. An incentive to remember that with a more competitive bike he would have everything it takes to fight with the best in the standings.
"To be honest, throughout the season the main problem has always been qualifying, I almost never managed to start from the front rows, yet I still got a few podiums, I'm thinking of Austin, India and today here in Indonesia. I think that by continuing to work on the bike the results can come because we are competitive in terms of pace."
In the final stages of the race the Frenchman really gave everything on his Yamaha in an attempt to overtake Vinales' Aprilia and Bagnaia's Ducati. However, in the last two laps did the opportunity arrive or did you prefer not to take risks?
"Both Maverick and Bagnaia were already at their limit. With the Yamaha I certainly was, and I was already having an excellent race, there was no chance for us to overtake them, it would have been too risky."
A problem, that of not being able to overtake, which Fabio has already complained about several times.
"The only one I actually managed to overtake was Aleix, because he too had a soft tyre and because he seemed to be in difficulty. The problem is always linked to power, which we don't have, I would like it if next year I could have a bit more power. With that perhaps I would have more room to manoeuvre on the straight, especially in the braking distance. Today I was at the limit everywhere."
Indonesia divided the riders on the choice of tyres, between those who bet on a hard compound on the front, like Bagnaia, and those who instead opted for a soft one, like Martin and Quartararo.
"For me the sensations were excellent, I'm happy with the choice, even if in turns 1 and 10 it was really critical, in some moments I went slightly wide off the line. On the other hand in the fast corners, especially the ones on the left, I felt really comfortable, especially in turn 12. The left side of the rear, however, gave me some problems."
What feelings does this podium give you, and what expectations do you have about the GP at Phillip Island, where the weather conditions will be radically different?
“This is the best podium of the year,” the Frenchman commented, visibly satisfied – In India I was nine seconds from Bezzecchi and in Austin I made the podium but I was a little bit too far from the winners. Today, I really recovered to the top two and really caught up with them due to my speed. It’s the best podium of the year but Australia is different. Last year we suffered a lot and it’s a track where you have to take care of the tyres. It’s going to be tricky. My main target will be to get into Q2."
Soon there will also be a riders’ association, headed by Guintoli. What will change for you?
"It will certainly be a step forward in terms of communication. There have been races in the wet, like at Silverstone, in which we were not able to communicate all together. At the moment it is really difficult for a rider to be able to make himself heard. Not that we haven’t made requests in the past, many of us have done so, but no response has ever been received. Being all united in the same direction I think would be of great help for us riders in the future."
"Sicuramente sarà un passo in avanti in termini di comunicazione. Ci sono state gare sul bagnato, come a Silverstone, in cui non siamo riusciti a comunicare tutti uniti. In questo momento è davvero difficile per un pilota riuscire a farsi ascoltare. Non che non abbiamo fatto richieste in passato, lo abbiamo fatto in molti, ma non è mai arrivata alcuna risposta. Essere tutti uniti nella stessa direzione penso che sarebbe di grande aiuto in futuro per noi piloti".