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Quartararo: Dovizioso a bigger title threat than Vinales

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo sees Andrea Dovizioso as a bigger threat to his 2020 title aspirations than Yamaha stablemate Maverick Vinales.

Dovizioso closed to within 11 points of Quartararo by winning at the Red Bull Ring, with Vinales a further eight down after a difficult Austrian Grand Prix.

Quartararo will join Vinales at the works Yamaha team in 2021, but is hoping to sign off from the Petronas Yamaha satellite outfit with a world title – his chances boosted significantly by the dominant 2019 champion Marc Marquez’s season-opener injury and subsequent absence.

Asked after the Austrian GP whether he now saw Dovizioso as a bigger title contender than Vinales or Marquez, Quartararo – who was hindered by a brake issue at the Red Bull Ring – said: “Of course Marc will be a top contender, but actually now I see more Dovi than Maverick for title contention.

“We know that Dovi has a lot of experience, he knows how to fight, also he has a kind of bike that is maybe more easy to fight [with] in the last laps.

“So I see Dovi much [more a] contender than Maverick because with Maverick I know that if something happens we have more or less the same bike, so I can fight.

“But with Dovi, when you have a kind of top speed like this, it’s amazing. Must feel great to be 10km/h faster than us. So, yes, I see more Dovi like a contender.”

Dovizioso credits new braking approach

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati, at the Austrian Grand PrixThe Ducati top speed advantage that so concerns Quartararo was a major benefit in the first Red Bull Ring race, at a venue where Ducati is yet to lose in MotoGP, yet the Austrian GP also marked a turnaround in form for Dovizioso.

The three-time MotoGP championship runner-up has struggled to adapt to the new Michelin rear tyre this year, but feels he made a breakthrough this year.

And though Michelin brought a harder-construction variant of the tyre to the Red Bull Ring, Dovizioso said the impact of that particular change was negligible.

“The tyre was different but the way it worked is the same,” he said. “The casing is adapted to this track, but every year here happens something like that, like in some other tracks.

“The way you have to brake and ride is exactly the same, the characteristics are the same.

“It was just our improvement. Still we are not 100 percent, but we did a big step.

“Normally I’m quite aggressive, my DNA is to be very aggressive from the beginning of the braking. And the Michelin tyres didn’t like [this].

“I adapted this in the last three years and it worked very well. But with this new tyre it’s even bigger, that characteristic.

“I didn’t approach the braking in the right way in the first three rounds, because our normal set-up from last year didn’t work. So we were trying to adapt to the situation, but we couldn’t, in the first three races.

“The situation for us [became] more clear on the data, and gave us a clear idea in the way I had to change, and we did it.”

Vinales struggles to hide Yamaha frustration

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha, leads Fabio Quartararo, Petronas YamahaVinales had started the Austrian GP from pole, but his race was undone by a slipping clutch after the red flag – caused by the Johann Zarco/Franco Morbidelli accident that Vinales himself had miraculously avoided.

Dropping to last in the order, Vinales was preparing to retire his Yamaha when the situation improved and allowed him to recover to an eventual 10th place.

“Two races in a row that we have problems on the bike,” Vinales said afterwards, making his discontent clear.

“It’s a bit difficult and frustrating because it’s two races where I had the rhythm to be at the front and to fight for the podium.

“We are losing points and points, it’s difficult to fight for a championship like that.

“But anyway we need to insist, we need to continue like that, but it’s very difficult to keep myself motivated with those kinds of mistakes.”

It wasn’t just the slipping clutch that left Vinales displeased though, as he had dropped from first to fifth before the red flag and was left to rue Yamaha’s top-speed deficit.

“I could not fight against Suzuki, Ducati or the other guys. For me it was very difficult, honestly, to be on the bike, and very frustrating, because in some parts of the track I was much faster, but then when the straight arrived it was difficult.

“For one lap I can give all my best, through my riding style, I can put a lot of effort in, but then in the race you cannot jump other riders. It always happens the same.”

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