Fabio Quartararo kept his 2022 MotoGP World Championship hopes alive this weekend as he flew to third position at the Sepang International Circuit aboard his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP machine.
MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo battled his way from 12th on the grid to ultimately finish third in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, keeping his title hopes alive ahead of the season finale in Valencia.
After typical Malaysian mixed weather during the weekend, a further chance of rain threatened the 20-lap Grand Prix, but despite the looming overhanging clouds, the rain stayed away.
Heading into the Grand Prix injured following a small crash in free practice four that fractured a finger on his left hand and compromised Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session, Quartararo had his work cut out from 12th on the grid.
Despite not getting the best of starts, a brave opening couple of corners from the Frenchman saw him leap up to sixth before picking off team-mate Franco Morbidelli into turn nine. Crossing the line to end the opening lap inside the top five, the 23-year-old had his sights set on the leading group but was quickly losing valuable time behind the fading Marc Marquez.
Eventually passing the Repsol Honda machine at turn one on lap five, the number 20 rider was then promoted onto the podium when Jorge Martin crashed ahead. With a provisional podium place in his pocket, the World Champion withstood immense pressure from behind as his one-second advantage over Marco Bezzecchi quickly evaporated, but Quartararo had the edge at the end of the race to hang on to a podium finish, keeping his title hopes alive ahead of the final race of the season.
A strong weekend saw Franco Morbidelli cross the line in 10th place but was handed a post-race three-second penalty for his pass on Aleix Espargaró, putting him in 11th in the race timesheets.
The Italian made a strong start and slotted in behind team-mate Quartararo and the Suzuki of Joan Mir at the end of the first lap. Re-passing Mir at turn one, the Italian acted as the perfect wingman for his team-mate up ahead as he kept Mir and Alex Rins behind for as long as possible before completing his first of two long lap penalties for irresponsible riding in practice three.
Re-joining the race ahead of Darryn Binder, Morbidelli swiftly completed his final long lap loop, demoting him to 14th. A strong race pace aided the former Moto2 champion and gradually worked his way through the rankings to cross the line in 10th before being dropped to 11th for his final lap pass on Espargaro.
The WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team secured points in their home round as British rider Cal Crutchlow battled to 12th.
After topping a drying practice two on Friday, confidence was high for the Honey Badger, who made a strong getaway from 15th on the grid. Featuring in the points battle for the majority of the race, the Yamaha test rider kept a consistent pace and quickly worked his way passed both Maverick Vinales and Miguel Oliveira before crossing the line in 12th for his best result of the year.
It wasn’t the best of weekends for team-mate Darryn Binder, who after gaining 13 places in the opening stages to go from 24th to 11th, sadly crashed out unhurt.
Thanks to his podium finish, Fabio Quartararo remains a title fighter as he trails heads into the title-deciding round with a 23 point-deficit. A strong haul of points sees Morbidelli consolidate his 19th in the championship positions while Darryn Binder and Cal Crutchlow sit in 22nd and 24th places respectively.
The MotoGP championship will return to Europe and enjoy one week off before the final round of the 2022 season, held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain from 4-6 November.
Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, 3rd
“I feel so good. It was a long time that I didn‘t get on the podium. I gave my maximum today. I couldn‘t have done better than this. I‘m proud of myself because our main rival had a good day, but we also had a good day in the end. I know exactly where I was losing time today. As for my riding, this was one of my best rides of the season, especially the first laps. I‘m feeling super happy. At least we bring the title fight to Valencia. Even if our chances are super slim, we did everything we could to end the championship fight in Valencia.”
Franco Morbidelli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, 11th
“I have to be happy about this weekend. I was fast throughout all the practice sessions. I had a really good pace. I was also able to be quick in qualifying, which was the most important thing. I started the race and I needed to do these two long laps. After I cleared out the two penalties, I got back in – I don’t know if my tyres got dirty or something – but I lost some speed and some grip right away. It was difficult to get back up to the speed that I think I possibly could have achieved otherwise. But anyway, I was able to catch up, catch up, and catch up. Then, on the final lap, I got another penalty for normal last-lap overtaking. I’m sorry about that, but in my opinion there was enough space to go into that corner. We can discuss all day long if it was me going towards Aleix, or him towards me. So, finally, I got the penalty. But this doesn’t take away from my good race and good weekend.”
Cal Crutchlow – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team, 12th
“I was pleased to finish the race actually, it’s a difficult race to finish because of the tyre situation and managing the race. I didn’t have a great pace in the race, we had a small problem. I had an amazing start, probably the best start I had on any Yamaha all year, but then I went into turn two and nearly crashed like in the Qualifying yesterday where i lost the rear. I lost some positions but I was quite comfortable, I was pushed out at one point where I went back four positions. In the last three laps, I managed to pass both Maverick Vinales and Miguel Oliveira and got some good points for the team. In the end, we can go away happy as a team, I did my job and now we’re on to Valencia.”
Darryn Binder – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team, DNF
“Overall, it’s been a little bit of a difficult weekend. Unfortunately, starting at the back of the grid today, I knew that I would have to get a good start and make some places up in the beginning if I wanted a chance to fight for some points. I managed to get a really good start and was feeling good in the first six laps, and then started to struggle a little bit and I didn’t have the same pace as the group that I was in, but at the same time I was just trying to keep my rhythm and keep myself inside the points. Unfortunately in lap 11, I took the front going into turn five. A really disappointing end to the weekend. But anyway, we go to the last race and we will do our best.”
Massimo Meregalli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Team Director
“We can only be satisfied with our performance today. The odds were against us at this track, but we did some damage limitation and gave it our all to keep the championship fight alive until the final round in two weeks‘ time. Fabio did everything right today. He has a hand injury, yet you would have never guessed it by the way he was riding. He kept his pace over the entire race and couldn‘t have done better. This podium is important for him and the team, because we‘re showing we are not going down without a fight. Franky rode a really impressive race. He helped Fabio in the opening laps to keep the Suzukis behind him for as long as possible before he had to do the long-lap penalties. To come back from that and still take tenth place shows how strong his pace really was today. The 3s penalty in the end puts him in 11th position, but we will focus on the positive side, which is that this was probably his best ride of the season. After a long and busy overseas period, we now travel back to Europe. We have one week to recharge and prepare for battle. No doubt we will give it our all again in Valencia.”
Razlan Razali – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team, Founder & Team Principal
“It was a good showing from our riders especially Cal Crutchlow who finished 12th and for Darryn who started from the back of the grid but made a great start by being up to 11th in the first few laps. Unfortunately, his pace dropped and he ended up crashing. But solid points from Cal to end with four points and a relatively good showing for the team as the objective is to collect as many points as possible. It was a very good Malaysian Grand Prix weekend and a good homecoming for the team. Now, we rest for a little bit before the final race in Valencia.”
MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix Results:
- Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team
- Enea Bastianini – Gresini Racing MotoGP +0.270
- Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team +2.773
- Marco Bezzecchi – Mooney VR46 Racing Team +5.446
- Alex Rins – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +11.923
- Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team +13.472
- Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team +14.304
- Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +16.805
- Johann Zarco – Prima Pramac Racing +18.358
- Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia Racing +21.591
- Franco Morbidelli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +23.235
- Cal Crutchlow – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team +24.641
- Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +24.918
- Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team +25.586
- Raul Fernandez – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +27.039
- Maverick Viñales – Aprilia Racing +30.427
- Alex Marquez – LCR Honda CASTROL +33.322
- Remy Gardner – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +33.691
- Joan Mir – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +41.838
- Darryn Binder – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team
- Fabio Di Giannantonio – Gresini Racing MotoGP
- Jorge Martin – Prima Pramac Racing
- Tetsuta Nagashima – LCR Honda IDEMITSU
- Luca Marini – Mooney VR46 Racing Team
MotoGP 2022 World Championship Standings
- Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo team 258 points
- Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 235 points
- Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia Racing 212 points
- Enea Bastianini – Gresini Racing 211 points
- Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team 189 points
- Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 168 points
- Johann Zarco – Prima Pramac Racing 166 points
- Alex Rins – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 148 points
- Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 138 points
- Jorge Martin – Prima Pramac Racing 136 points
- Maverick Viñales – Aprilia Racing 122 points
- Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team 113 points
- Luca Marini – Mooney VR46 Racing Team 111 points
- Marco Bezzecchi – Mooney VR46 Racing Team 106 points
- Joan Mir – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 77 points
- Pol Espargaro – Repsol Honda Team 56 points
- Alex Marquez – LCR Honda CASTROL 50 points
- Takaaki Nakagami – LCR Honda IDEMITSU 46 points
- Franco Morbidelli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 36 points
- Fabio Di Giannantonio – Gresini Racing 23 points
- Andrea Dovizioso – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team 15 points
- Darryn Binder – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team 12 points
- Remy Gardner – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 10 points
- Cal Crutchlow – WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team 10 points
- Raul Fernandez – Tech3 KTM Factory Racing 10 points
- Stefan Bradl – Repsol Honda Team 2 points
- Michele Pirro – Aruba.it Racing 0 points
- Lorenzo Savadori – Aprilia Racing 0 points
- Tetsuta Nagashima – LCR Honda IDEMITSU 0 points
- Danilo Petrucci – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 0 points
31. Kazuki Watanabe – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 0 points