Quartararo struggling in mixed conditions at Misano

Fabio Quartararo in practice at Misano. Picture: Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo and the Monster Energy Yamaha team have admitted they are struggling when conditions are mixed at the Emilia Romagna MotoGP round.

Quartararo is just 16th-fastest after the two Friday practice sessions at Misano, where he has his first ‘match point’ in the championship contest.

The Frenchman has a tendency to battle when it rains, and was visibly frustrated at the end of Free Practice 2.

However, it was a drying track to which he attributed his poor pace, and he was in fact reasonably satisfied with his performance in full wet conditions.

“FP1 was quite difficult,” said Quartararo.

“In FP2 I was really happy because from the first lap I improved my lap time from FP1, and I managed to get a good place.

“I was P7 when I stopped, but as soon as the track dried it was a disaster. I had no feeling, and it was like we had completely changed the bike.”

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli fared even worse in 20th on the combined timesheets, but the Italian is still recovering from a knee injury and was expected to be far from his best anyway.

Team director Massimo Meregalli remarked, “It was a difficult first day for us at the Emilia-Romagna GP, especially when the track was drying. We suffer a lot in mixed conditions in general.

“Franky’s situation in FP1 and also Fabio’s when FP2 was still completely wet were not so bad. Both riders were quite comfortable with the general behaviour of the bike.

“For sure, we are not at all happy about our current position, but we still have two more practice sessions to improve.

“On a positive note, Franky’s condition got better. It’s true that you can’t force yourself over the limit too much in these conditions, but he was still able to do a proper evaluation of his current fitness level.

“We will put in the hours [overnight] to come up with a solution to make both riders feel more confident tomorrow in similar circumstances.”

Quartararo holds a 52-point lead over the Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia with just three races remaining in 2021.

It means he potentially need only finish just behind Bagnaia to seal the title with two rounds to spare, although #20 says he is not overawed by the occasion.

“I feel like this is ‘a normal weekend,’” added Quartararo.

“I’m not saying there’s no pressure, but I feel like it’s normal.

“We take today as something we need to improve, because next year it will surely be important to be consistent and in a better position if we have rain races.

“It’s a little bit frustrating not to be in the top 10 today, because I feel that in the full wet we would have had the potential. It’s tough, but we will try to make a great result in FP3.”

Free Practice 3, Quartararo’s last chance to earn direct passage to Qualifying 2, starts this evening at 18:55 AEDT.

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