Franco Morbidelli
News News 27 October 2019

Disappointment for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT at Australian GP

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team had a disappointing Australian Grand Prix after Franco Morbidelli finished just shy of the top ten and Fabio Quartararo was left watching from the sidelines at Phillip Island after being taken out by another rider on the opening lap.

Showing strong pace all weekend despite mixed conditions and high winds blasting the seaside track, Morbidelli went into today optimistic about what he could achieve when the lights went out. However, struggling first in this morning’s rescheduled qualifying session, he then wasn’t able to find the pace he needed to be competitive in the race. Dropping back to 14th at the start, Morbidelli was able to regroup and recover a number of places before riding a relatively lonely race to finish in 11th.

Quartararo went into the race nursing an ankle injury after a heavy crash during Friday’s FP1 but was able to bounce back to start second after qualifying. Lining up on the front row, he made a strong start to battle for the lead - but ran wide on the opening lap before being struck by another rider as they crashed behind him, ending Quartararo’s race prematurely. 

The team maintain a healthy position in the championship standings, with Fabio staying sixth and Franco tenth in the overall rider standings. Quartararo still leads the Independent Riders’ award by 22 points and PETRONAS Yamaha SRT is 58 points in front of its nearest rival in the Independent Teams’ series and stays fourth in the general Teams’ classification.

The team can bounce back imminently, with action resuming in only five days’ time. Practice starts for their home race at the Sepang International Circuit on Friday 1st November ahead of Sunday 3rd November’s Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Franco Morbidelli

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

“It was a difficult race for us. From qualifying this morning we’ve struggled; I had been feeling good all weekend and I was aiming for a better position on the grid, but this morning we had a big drop in performance. This meant we didn’t start the race from where we hoped and we weren’t able to improve from there. I had to manage the tyres and be precise over every lap, but the pace was not forthcoming. We have to investigate why we lost pace today as the rest of the weekend had looked promising. Obviously, we want to be fast again in Malaysia.”

Fabio Quartararo

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

“It was a tough weekend, with a big crash on Friday and a crash on Sunday. This morning we were able to do something incredible, taking part in my first MotoGP Q1 then going through to the front row. That was a really nice start to the day. In the race, if Petrucci hadn’t hit me I would probably have run onto the grass and lost a lot of positions anyway, but it’s still my rookie year and I’ll learn from it. I’ll now take the opportunity to rest and recuperate as much as possible before the next race in Sepang where I want to reward the circuit and PETRONAS with a strong performance.”

Wilco Zeelenberg

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team Manager

“It was a bad day at the office for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. The weekend did not start well with Fabio’s crash on Friday, but Franco also had mixed fortunes all weekend; in some sessions he was fast but in others, he struggled. In the race, Franco couldn’t maintain pace and find the correct strategy to keep his tyres alive. Fabio had a good chance after the disaster of Friday, but he was taken out by Petrucci at turn two. Both were on hard tyres, both had a little slide at the same time, and it was basically the opposite of Silverstone where Fabio took out Dovizioso. The most important thing is that both riders are okay. We need to put this weekend behind whilst learning from it, which was always one of the goals in our rookie year. We share success just as we share the more difficult moments. Now we have a great opportunity to bounce back at the best place possible in only five days’ time in Malaysia.”

Razlan Razali

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team Principal

“That was our most challenging weekend of the year in MotoGP. The conditions at Phillip Island were harsh and it was hard work on track for Fabio with his injury and being taken out of the race as well as for Franco finding race pace. Nevertheless, we did get a few valuable points to ensure we are still very much in the fight to be best Independent Team. In Moto3 it was an intense battle over an exciting race. John was right in the mix and Ayumu fought well through the field. In Moto2, Adam continues his learning process with a lot thrown at him over the weekend. Sepang will be a key race as Adam’s home event, so he should be able to push for a further step forward. We have great anticipation for Sepang with a lot of local supporters ready to get their first glimpse of Malaysia’s first MotoGP team. Our target is to maintain the momentum of the season.” ?