Quartararo bids to halt Bagnaia title surge

MotoGP champion hoping to get the right result in ‘not our best circuit’ at Austrian Grand Prix

AFP August 19, 2022


France's world champion Fabio Quartararo starts the Austrian MotoGP on Sunday looking over his shoulder at surging Francesco Bagnaia.

Quartararo leads Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, who will compete despite a broken heel, by 22 points but Italian Bagnaia, who finished fast last season, is third 49 points back after winning the last two races.

Last season Ducati's Bagnaia was second in the race with Quartararo seventh on his Yamaha, although the Frenchman had finished third in the Styrian MotoGP on the same track a week earlier.

Ducati won seven straight at Spielberg, including the first Styrian MotoGP in 2020, before KTM won both races last year.

Quartararo's eighth place in the British MotoGP a fortnight ago was a rare blot this season – he has three victories and six podium finishes in 12 races – and he takes heart from two of his previous rides in Austria.

"We know that Spielberg is not our best circuit, but I was third here in 2019 and 2021," said the 23-year-old.

"If we keep the right attitude and work hard, we can get the right results.

"After Silverstone, I was a bit disappointed, but I used that energy in a productive way.

"I've been doing a lot of training, and I feel focused and ready for the weekend."

Last season Bagnaia was fourth in the standings, 70 points behind Quartararo at the end of August. But the Italian won four of the last six races to finish second. This year he has started his surge earlier.

"At Silverstone we gained several points in the overall standings," he said.

"But for the moment I do not want to think about the Championship.

"I must stay focussed, race by race, trying to get the best possible result.

"In the last GP, I got an unexpected victory, and I think it was one of the best of my career."

The 25-year-old is encouraged by Ducati's dominance in Austria.

"We will have to see what it will be like with the new chicane, but I am convinced the conditions are there for us to do well," he said.

"I am ready and excited to race there again."

Quartararo and Bagnaia will be to the fore on Sunday and perhaps the most interested of the spectators will be six-time MotoGP champion, Marc Marquez.

The 29-year-old Honda rider's season has again been blighted by injury but he will be in the paddock this weekend after being absent since the end of June.

The Spaniard underwent a fourth operation on his right arm which has caused him problems since a crash in 2020.

Marquez says there is no fixed date for his return but he feels better.

"At the end of August I have another medical check up," he said.

"At that point we will be able to take a step forwards in terms of rehab and really beginning to make progress.

"I am optimistic (about returning to MotoGP), but I do not wish to say too much given we have not yet had the check-up."


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ