As usual, MotoGP is preparing to end the year at the Valencia track. A track full of memories for Fabio Quartararo, who arrived at Ricardo Tormo in 2022 in full fight for the title, battling until the very end to reconfirm himself as MotoGP World Champion. A goal that is very different from the one the rider from Nice will fight for here in this last round of a season that is much more complex and disappointing than expected, for the entire Yamaha garage.
“I'm happy to finish and I hope to end the year in a positive way, also because it's always better to end with a good feeling and a good result, rather than with bad feelings - said Fabio - I would like to cry thinking about the last few years. It's hard to be honest, because every time you arrive at a track you remember what you did in previous years. Valencia has been completely different for me in the last two years, but we have to look at things from another perspective and think that we have accumulated a lot of experience this year."
Just like last year, the Valencian Community Round will decide the fate of the World Championship, but this time there will be Jorge Martin, instead of Quartararo, as Francesco Bagnaia's pursuer.
“I don't have any advice for him. He had a fantastic year, as did Pecco. They are experienced riders, who know what to do, so I really don't know what to say to them. The only advice I can give to Jorge is to try to do his best,” commented the Yamaha rider.
Among the aspects that have made this championship different from previous ones is the introduction of the Sprint race in all events, which has made the season much longer and more stressful than in the past.
“If I'm honest, last year, 2021 and 2020 were much more stressful for me, due to my results in the championship: the stress level is much higher when you are first or second in the standings, rather than now that we're not fighting for anything - observed El Diablo - I do my best, trying to get the best possible result, and I still feel a bit of stress before the start, but I also know that a bad result doesn't change my life. However, it was a very long and tough season."
Such a tough year that no race was run with an entire full grid.
“It's not a coincidence, it's a big problem. It is a dangerous sport in itself and as a rider I can guarantee you that in some Sprints you get even more tired than in a Grand Prix. Our bikes are increasingly physical and I don't think there is a need to have a Sprint race in every single event. I mean: we're at Valencia, it's the last round of the season, and we know that it's already full, so why add another race to Saturday? Even in F1 they only do some Sprints, but we cannot continue on this path. I don't know what the other riders think, but for me it's not the right one" commented Fabio, who added regarding the two more races on next year's calendar: "Forty-two or forty-four makes no difference, but it's a pity that we do all these races and we haven't seen one with a full grid. It's a disgrace".
Could the riders’ association serve to change things in the future?
“I honestly don't know. I think it is impossible for all the riders to agree, also because this is my fifth year here and it has never happened that we agreed on something other than a wall, or a hole on the track. I don't know how it can work, but I believe that until there is something written, or a majority that wins, it will be very difficult - replied the Frenchman - Also because it is normal that out of 22 riders not everyone agrees, 15 maybe they want something and others don't, or vice versa. I'm sure some riders like Sprints, but I don't. So, what do we want to do with Sprints? It's a very complicated situation."
As complex as the contractual situation being experienced in MotoGP, given that four days before the end of the season the HRC team has not yet announced Marc Marquez's replacement.
“I remember that I signed my first contract as an official rider with Yamaha in 2019 for 2021, therefore a long time before, while now, with four days to go, we don't know who will race in VR46 and HRC - underlined Quartararo - It's quite logical what will happen, but you never know until the signature is there. I think we'll know between today and tomorrow, but it's still very late. I have always respected contracts and I always will."
Before thinking about the race weekend, the rider from Nice made one final comment on the controversy triggered by the title won by Jaume Masia in the Moto3 Qatar GP, after a borderline duel with Ayumu Sasaki.
“Both deserved to fight and win the title, but the race wasn't run correctly. The Leopard team didn't behave in the right way with Ayumu, but in the end that's the way it went - said Fabio - Ayumu's own teammate didn't help him in Malaysia, although I can understand his point of view given that he wanted his first victory, but the way he was attacked in the race was not correct. There were many who played dirty, especially Masia's teammate. It was really bad to see the way he kept pushing Ayumu and it made the race less interesting."