Le Mans (France) (AFP)
Fabio Quartararo kicks off his home Grand Prix at Le Mans this weekend trying to reassert his grip on the MotoGP title race after problems last time that forced him to undergo surgery.
The Frenchman took the lead in the Spanish MotoGP standings, quickly took the lead on his Yamaha and looked set for his third victory in four races this season. But muscle problems left him with no strength in his right forearm.
He finished in 13th place and in tears.
Jack Miller won, while his Ducati teammate Francesco Bagnaia came in second to take the championship lead.
After the race, Quartararo underwent surgery for “chronic exertional compartment syndrome”, known as the “arm pump”.
His first task on the Bugatti circuit, devoid of spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be to show that he is ready to resume the attack.
“At the moment, everything is fine,” he said. “I’m not trying very hard at the moment. It is going on its course and I hope to know about it this weekend. “
Yamaha appears to have overcome the issues with the bike set up at the end of last season that cost Quartararo the title as he rode for his Yamaha-SRT satellite team.
The main threat will probably come from Ducati at the French Grand Prix.
Bagnaia leads Quartararo by two points in the championship and the Italian machines are on a roll after Miller’s victory in Spain.
The other French MotoGP rider, Johann Zarco, on a Ducati-Primac satellite which is the same as the factory models, hopes to take advantage of the forecast rain to secure his first MotoGP victory.
“In the rain we could have an advantage with the Ducatis,” said Zarco, fifth in the championship.
The weather also helped Ducati last year at Le Mans when Italy’s Danilo Petrucci, now with KTM-Tech3, won a Ducati, taking advantage of a downpour just before the start.
– ‘Step by step’ –
The weather is not the only unknown as the weekend approaches.
There’s Suzuki’s disappointing form just months after rider Joan Mir won the 2020 world title.
There is also the slow recovery of Marc Marquez, who returns to his Honda for two races after a year of absence after breaking his right arm. He struggled to regain the pace that won him six world titles, finishing seventh and ninth in his two starts.
“The goal for this weekend is to have fewer complications and to keep working to improve,” said the Spaniard.
“Step by step we are getting stronger and our goal is to continue the progress we have made. The weather in Le Mans can always make things a bit tricky but we’ll manage no matter what. “
Meanwhile, his eternal rival, seven-time premier class winner Valentino Rossi, now with Yamaha-SRT, is a shadow of himself.
He hasn’t had a single top 10 since the start of this season, which at 42 could be his last.
In Moto2, the first four races saw three different winners.
The Australian Remy Gardner, son of the 500cc world champion in 1987, Wayne, leads the championship.
In Moto3, 16-year-old Pedro Acosta will be looking for his fourth consecutive victory this season as he makes his championship debut.
© 2021 AFP