PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider Fabio Quartararo has taken the 2019 MotoGP Rookie of the Year title, securing the award in style with a sensational sixth podium finish of the season at the Grand Prix of Japan. Team-mate Franco Morbidelli rounded out a dream day for the squad by coming home in sixth place at the Twin Ring Motegi for another strong finish.
Quartararo rode a textbook race at Motegi to secure second position, getting stuck into the fight with world champion Marc Marquez as soon as the lights went out and trading the top spot with him numerous times. Settling into second as the race progressed, Quartararo was able to manage his tyres to the chequered flag to secure the rookie honours as well as extending his lead in the Independent Riders’ classification to 38 points and moving up to sixth in the overall championship fight.
Morbidelli was also able to get involved in the podium battle early in the race, running in third behind his team-mate in the early laps. Dropping back as the race progressed, he was still able to score his fourth top-six finish from the past five races. Morbidelli also scored valuable points at Motegi to further secure his place within the top ten in the World Championship and to help the team edge closer to the Independent Teams’ championship, where they now command a healthy 76-point lead.
It won’t be long until MotoGP action gets underway again, with next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix kicking off on Friday 25th October, before Sunday 27th October’s race at Phillip Island.
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
“It’s a good result, we showed a lot of strength this weekend, and hopefully, we can bring the potential that we had here into the next round in Australia. That said, I’m a bit disappointed because I was expecting more from the race, but I understood as soon as it started that I didn’t have the same grip as I had had all weekend. We still managed to get the sixth position, which is good considering the feelings I was having on the bike, especially towards the end of the race. The big positive from Motegi is the speed we showed, so we need to find a way now to carry it forward.”
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
“I’m delighted with the weekend because the goal we set ourselves at the beginning of the season was to be best newcomer and we’ve already managed it. We have 163 points, which is an amazing achievement considering we were targeting between 50 and 90. We’ve been a big surprise to everyone, and it’s nice to be able to officially say that I’m Rookie of the Year. When I look back to last year when I was fighting for top 15 finishes in Moto2, I only think about how much I owe everyone at PETRONAS Yamaha SRT and Yamaha for putting their trust in me. I’ve done my maximum to help them believe in me, and together we’ve done an amazing job. We’re still fighting for good positions in the championship but trying not to think about it too much, so we’ll take the remaining races as they come and see what happens.”
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team Manager
“It was a very successful weekend for us and it’s great to see Franco stepping up his game, even though it’s a pity that Cal [Crutchlow] beat him right on the finish line. He’s seen the light now, understanding how to ride this bike in the best way. It was another great podium for Fabio with second place, his third of the year and his sixth podium. We’re on a charge now with three races to go, and we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished. Nevertheless, there’s still more we want to achieve before the season is over.”
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team Principal
“For MotoGP it was a great race for both riders even if it was close for Fabio at the end with Dovizioso closing him down and a shame for Franco getting pipped on the line for fifth by Crutchlow. Nevertheless, Fabio took Rookie of the Year and we scored a lot of points in the teams championships. It’s slightly mixed feelings in Moto3, with John McPhee scoring good points and Ayumu Sasaki making strong progress but our hopes being for slightly better. Adam Norrodin did a great job in Moto2. His remit is to use this part-season as a learning experience and he took another step forward which is all we can ask. We head to Australia after a very good weekend overall and naturally pushing for more of the same!”