Fabio Quartararo approached MotoGP Catalonia this weekend, his mind now free to focus on defending his world title after stopping speculation about his future.
The first Frenchman to be named MotoGP world champion announced last night in the ninth round of this season, that he has had a fortune against Yamaha for more than two years.
But when the news was announced Thursday, he admitted it was a “big decision” and that it had taken time, after talking with other manufacturers.
“As you can imagine, we’re not just talking to Yamaha, and I take a lot of time because at one stage my head goes to one side,” he said.
Assurances from Japanese employers about better engine performance and increased results with a win in Portugal helped the 23 -year -old decide to stay.
Quartararo became number two after Francesco Bagnaia in Italy last Sunday after coming in sixth in a performance described as “the best of my career”.
That makes the 2020 Catalunya champions eight points ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who won in Argentina and took the podium in the next four races.
On the front tarmac, Aprilia riders hope to benefit from the sleek Quartararo.
“We’ll see if we can’t find a little something extra and fight it out for victory” said Espargaro, who is part of the nine-strong Spanish battalion in the MotoGP field.
But one of those numbers appears to be due to the absence of Barcelona, whose sixth -place champion Marc Marquez in the United States underwent surgery on his right arm.
This is the fourth major operation of a Honda driver on a broken arm due to an accident in 2020 and could eliminate him from the rest of the season.
Honda test driver Stefan Bradl is not the first to be a representative.
Another from this weekend’s home contingent Joan Mir Cut’s unhappy figure after sliding off the Mugello circuit last time out as Suzuki’s winter challenges continue.
Mir ended the 2020 season as world champion but after eight grand prix in 2022 Mir only scored 56 points and teammate Alex Rins was no better with 69.
A major part of the problem Mir said after Mugello was the constructor’s announcement to pull the plug on MotoGP involvement at the end of the year.
“Obviously there was no harmony in the previous team (Suzuki made a public decision to retire last month).
“We have to do whatever it takes, because spending a year like this can be very long,” he said.