Morbidelli claims best Independent Team Rider whilst Quartararo is struck by bad luck
Raceday at Jerez was a bittersweet one for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. After riding for much of the race in the top three, Franco Morbidelli finished in seventh place, claiming the best Independent Team Rider moniker for the first time in 2019. Fabio Quartararo's race ended prematurely, when a gear shifter problem forced the poleman to retire from second position.
For the second consecutive race, Morbidelli finished a MotoGP round inside the top ten. Starting from second on the grid, the Italian rode in that position from the second corner of the race. He held onto a podium spot until lap fifteen, when he began to drop off the pace of the leaders. He then focused his efforts on defending his position as best Independent Team Rider, earning the accolade for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT for the first time.
Quartararo suffered terrible luck on race day after earning a terrific pole position on Saturday. The Frenchman was in second place early on, but an unfortunate mechanical problem with eleven laps to go ended his hopes of a top finish. Up until then, Quartararo had shown strong pace and was on course for a podium.
With today's result, Franco Morbidelli is tenth in the overall standings with 25 points, while Fabio Quartararo is 13th and the Top Rookie with 17 points.
The next race for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT will be the French GP at Le Mans on May 17th-19th.
Position: 7th - Time: +8.228
"With this seventh position we have rounded off a good weekend for us. We were very quick at the start of the race and I was feeling good and comfortable with the pace of the front runners. I also felt comfortable with the tyres, although as the laps went by I lowered my speed because that changed. In the end, we managed the tyre wear well, so that on the last few laps we would have the ability to fight for the top Independent Team Rider honour with Cal Crutchlow. It's the first time we have achieved this, so it's a positive thing that we should repeat many more times. This is a good result for us and it shows that we are improving every day. Now we will try to do a good job at tomorrow's test, which is also here at Jerez, to be as prepared as possible for Le Mans."
Position: 7th - Time: +8.228
"You could say that I am both disappointed and happy. The race was very good; I felt very good on the bike and it was fantastic to ride with the top riders. That was until we suffered a small mechanical problem with the gear shifter. It's something very small but it affected us a lot, forcing us to abandon the race. Despite this, I'm happy with the work that we've done during the weekend and we will continue in the same way at the coming races. The whole team have done an exceptional job, but in this sport there are things that you can't control. As we did in Qatar, we will take away the positives - there were many of those at this GP. Before the season began, none of us expected to be fighting for the podium and to get a pole position in the fourth race of the year, so we should be happy with the work that is being done. I'm looking forward to the next race, which is the only home GP I have - I hope to do my best."
PETRONAS Yamaha SRT - Team Principal
"Our fairy tale story came to an end today, but it was still a happy ending. Our riders have shown that they have the pace to be competitive. It's the first time that both riders have ridden at the front and we must remember that this is only the team's fourth race. Unfortunately, racing can be very harsh and that is what has happened to Fabio [Quartararo] with the mechanical issue.
Franco [Morbidelli] was the top Independent Team Rider today. Our goal is to always be the best Independent Team, so that is a goal we fulfilled. I know that Franco aims higher and he is certainly capable of even stronger results. Of course, after seeing what our riders have done this weekend, we want more of the same. But we have to improve step by step and both the riders and the team will learn together. We have done a very good job at this GP and we have great potential. We are looking forward to Le Mans, which is also Fabio's home race ."
PETRONAS Yamaha SRT - Team Manager
"The final result of the Spanish GP have been a bit like in Qatar; everything was going almost too well. It goes to show that this is a sport where the mechanical side is crucial; you can be doing a great job and finally a problem can leave you with a zero by your name. There is no one to blame because the whole team have done a great job and Fabio [Quartararo] has shown throughout the weekend that he never stops learning and growing. These things happen.
Both he and Franco [Morbidelli] had great pace at the beginning of the race. Franco struggled to maintain that feeling he had on the first ten laps after the midway point. He started losing half a second per lap and that made him drop positions. In the end, he focused on not giving up seventh position and being the top Independent Team Rider. He fought for that and achieved it, so that is another positive. In general, we can be proud of what we have done "