Quartararo predicts ‘big accident’ in MotoGP Sprint races

Fabio Quartararo in the MotoGP Sprint race at Portimao. Picture: Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo in the MotoGP Sprint race at Portimao. Picture: Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo believes MotoGP’s new Sprint race format will produce “a big accident”, after a wild encounter at Portimao.

This year marks the most radical change to event weekends in history, with a half-length contest to be held on Saturday afternoons at each round, followed by the traditional Grand Prix race on the Sunday.

The Portuguese round is opening the 2023 season and hence saw the first ever Sprint race, which certainly featured plenty of action over the 12-lap journey.

Quartararo was in the thick of it immediately, losing five positions on Lap 1 when he was hit by Joan Mir, who would be issued a long lap penalty for the incident.

The 2021 champion thinks that the Sprint promotes excessive risk, and went as far as saying that another full-length race instead would be a safer option.

“There will be a big accident,” predicted Quartararo, who dropped from 11th to 14th in the opening corners due to a launch control problem.

“I mean, it’s a jungle. We are not in cars, that in the end you touch and it’s not a problem.

“It’s the same for everybody. I don’t want to complain, but at the end, it’s safety. It’s not a problem to touch in the last laps with Alex [Marquez] – we touch three, four times [but] it’s racing.

“[But] in the first laps this is about getting crazy.

“I think that for safety, it’s better to do two 25 laps than 12 laps. You also have a little bit more time to recover if you lose positions.

“It looked like the first lap was the last lap… it is normal because you don’t want to lose positions. In the future, everybody must have to fight like this. That’s what I think is quite dangerous.

“Today only [Luca] Marini and [Enea] Bastianini crashed. For sure in the future, there will be many more crashes.”

Bastianini’s fate is significant in the context of Sprint races, as he is now out for the balance of the Portugal weekend and also next week’s Argentina round having broken a shoulder blade when he was taken out by Marini.

Marc Marquez, however, thinks that the Sprints are not particularly risky at all.

The Repsol Honda rider, who took the chequered flag in third position on Saturday afternoon at Portimao, also suggested that there are mitigating factors this weekend.

He reasoned that there is more aggression than usual because riders have honed their craft on the circuit given it also hosted the final days of pre-season testing.

“I mean, about the Sprint race, when they propose the Sprint race it’s for that,” said Marquez of the prospect of action-packed racing.

“It’s not necessary to have the first Sprint race to realise that everyone will attack, like when we have a red flag in the long race.

“But especially in this circuit… We need to wait more for the other circuits. Here, we have a very similar pace to everybody because of the test, many laps in this circuit, everybody is in the perfect way.

“So, let’s see. But we are taking a lot of risk during all the weekend, because the last 15 minutes of FP2 is a quali, then another quali, then the Sprint race, then tomorrow the long race.

“So, we will see. Of course, today I was a bit calm. At the start I was aggressive, but then calm because my position was better than what I expected and main target was top five.

“Step-by-step I started to lose and I was aggressive again, but it was more or less the same risk I take in a normal race.”

The Warm Up takes place tonight at 19:45 AEDT and then the Grand Prix race from 00:00 AEDT.

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