On Sunday Francesco Bagnaia can become MotoGP World Champion for the first time in his career. Before the penultimate race of the season, however, he and world championship rival Fabio Quartararo are on edge. Both failed in qualifying, with Jorge Martin taking the pole.
Defending MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo has "nothing to lose" in the last two races of the season. Ahead of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, the Frenchman vowed to push himself to the limit to catch Italy's Francesco Bagnaia, 14 points ahead of him.
But even in qualifying, "El Diablo" probably overdid it. Because the Yamaha star messed up his Q2 completely. Was last there after several slides and has to start the pursuit from 12th on the grid. But his World Cup rival also showed nerves, after missing the direct qualification for Q2, he just made it into the second section, but after a few mistakes, he only finished ninth there.
As in the last race, the pole went to Jorge Martin (Ducati) ahead of Enea Bastianini (Ducati) and Marc Marquez (Honda). The next shock message came for Quartararo after qualifying. After a crash in the fourth training session, he had himself examined by the race doctors after the horror qualifying session.
The diagnosis: a fracture in the middle finger of the left hand and several bruises. He is therefore going into the race on Sunday with an additional handicap
Excited until the last race
Only last Sunday did Yamaha rider Quartararo lose his lead in the World Championship due to his failure in Australia to Bagnaia.
In August he was 44 points ahead of his Ducati competitor after the station in Spielfeld. A meager eight out of a possible 100 points from the last four races ensured that Bagnaia held all the trumps in his hand in the finish.
"In the last few races I didn't enjoy it much but now I'm in a position where I don't have to think about anything. I just want to push myself to the limit and it requires, of course, a different mindset for this weekend.
It's not about having more or less pressure, I just have the feeling that right now I have nothing to lose. But of course, the approach to the race has always involved me riding at the limit since the beginning of the weekend.
I will try to make some changes to the bike. Whenever we go to a new circuit we feel super good on the track and we end up not even touching the bike. I think the time has come, even though I have good feelings about the bike, to try to make improvements in certain areas.
I think the situation is different now than it was last time." explained Quartararo Bagnaia could celebrate his first premier-class triumph as early as Sepang if he wins and Quartararo finishes outside the top three.
The 25-year-old, who won the Moto2 World Championship in 2018, would be the first Italian MotoGP champion since Valentino Rossi in 2009 and the first for Ducati since 2007. "I feel that I’ll start having pressure, but at this moment, I’m quite happy.
I know that we did something really good this year, but we still have to finish the job and my main focus at this moment is on that," said Bagnaia. "But we still have to finish the job."