Front row start for Quartararo and Morbidelli at Brno
After a dramatic qualifying day at the 5.4km Automotodrom Brno circuit, which saw crashes for both Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli, the pair will both start tomorrow’s race from the front row of the grid – second for Quartararo and third for Morbidelli. A first for the team in 2020, and the fifth time in the year and a half history of PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Striving to make the bike and the tyres work for him on the bumpy, low grip Czech track, Quartararo was back to his usual form in the day’s two Free Practice sessions and looked a lot more comfortable aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. His 1min 56.134secs time in FP3, which was good enough for third, saw the Frenchman straight through to the second qualifying session. Further progress made in FP4 meant that confidence was high going into the afternoon’s pole position shoot out. Fabio was on provisional pole until fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco knocked him off top spot in the closing stages. Trying one last attempt on used tyres, Quartararo unfortunately ran out of grip and crashed in the second to last corner. His initial time of 1min 55.990secs was still good enough to secure second place on the grid.
Team-mate Morbidelli was also in fine form today, helping to show the strength of PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. The closing stages of FP3 saw riders treat the last few laps as a mini qualifying session, which Franco stamped his authority on with a 1min 56.037secs lap – a time no one else could beat. The Italian did add his name to those who made a visit to the gravel traps at Brno today, but he didn’t let it disturb his rhythm. A strong qualifying session, which saw him among the top riders for the majority of the 15 minutes, finished with only 0.008 seconds between him and team-mate Quartararo. Franco’s time of 1min 55.998secs secured him the final spot on the front row.
The PETRONAS Yamaha SRT pairing will be back out on track at 9.40am local time (3.40pm MYT) tomorrow for Warm Up, with the 21-lap MotoGP race due to kick off at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).
Obviously the last lap I tried to do my best, but when the tyres have already done a flying lap on this track you know you’re likely to be slower. I gave it a go anyway and unfortunately I crashed in the second to last corner. I feel great though as we made a big step forward in FP4 and the bike is feeling really good. I think it’s a great moment for the team with both Franco and myself on the front row, and we can be confident that we can challenge for the podium tomorrow. The track conditions are really difficult, which makes it hard to understand the tyres properly and get them working well. It’s the same for everyone though so we just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow; we are ready for the third race of the season!
It’s been a positive weekend so far: we had a good pace yesterday and today as well. I did have a small crash, but I was able to get back my rhythm and feeling very quickly. I was able to get a good lap time in and tomorrow we will start from the front row, which is very important for me. We will have to see where we are after the first lap to understand what kind of race we will and what we need to do. Our team is very strong at the moment and we have a lot of people working very hard to make it so. This helps to give us the best situation to do our job, as riders, and I have to thank them a lot for this. The job we are doing is also a reflection of the work they put into the bike.