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Crafar: Quartararo 'not the favourite' for back-to-back MotoGP™ crowns

18/05/22

The Frenchman faces an uphill battle.

Reigning MotoGP™ World Champion, Fabio Quartararo, faces an uphill battle if he's to retain the world title for Yamaha this year; that's the view of Grand Prix race-winner, turned TV pit lane reporter, Simon Crafar, who features on the latest episode of the In The Fast Lane podcast.

Quartararo leads the standings by four points after the first seven Grands Prix, but Ducati riders have won four races and taken five pole positions with one-third of the calendar completed.

The Frenchman has fought a lone hand for the Japanese manufacturer, teammate Franco Morbidelli the next-best Yamaha in the standings in 17th place. Speaking on the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's official podcast, Crafar feels Yamaha's lack of progress could thwart Quartararo's bid for consecutive crowns.

"This year's going to be real hard, I don't think he's the favourite for the championship," Crafar said.

"Fabio is the only one that can get the maximum out of the Yamaha, and he's riding so well. His race pace is as good as anyone's. The problem is, his bike is slow in a straight line. It's a beautiful bike and they've refined it … it's really sorted, except it's slow.

"I believe they turned up with a new engine at the first test in Malaysia and it wasn't reliable. They've stuck last year's engine in, that's what I believe. So, Fabio's riding the same bike as last year.

"If the bike was faster, I think this year Fabio would run away with it, he would be leading by now by a good amount of points. But the problem is that because the bike is slow, he gets stuck in the pack and it's so hard to overtake. If he doesn't get the holeshot (off the start), he's doomed."

Last weekend's French Grand Prix winner for Ducati, Italian Enea Bastianini, has won three Grands Prix this season to sit third in the standings, with Ducati stablemate Jack Miller fifth overall after the Australian finished second at Le Mans.

Despite Ducati's prodigious pace, Crafar isn't convinced the Italian manufacturer can snap a world championship drought that dates back to Australian Casey Stoner in 2007.

"Last year, they missed an opportunity," Crafar said.

"Coming into this year, I said Ducati have the best bike, but do they have a rider to win the championship? I doubt it. There's a long way to go so I hope someone proves me wrong. Jack's really close … (Jorge) Martin and Enea are impressive, and then if Pecco (Bagnaia) can keep his form, then they do have someone … but can they pull that off this year?"

The In The Fast Lane podcast is available on Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts platforms.



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