MotoGP Austria: Fabio Quartararo: Sprint races ‘stupid’, Aleix Espargaro: ‘I don’t like the idea’ | MotoGP

Stating that the riders hadn’t been involved in the decision, due to be officially announced in a special press conference on Saturday, Quartararo labelled it as ‘stupid’.

Quartararo’s main objections seemed to be taking the focus off the main Sunday grand prix, as well as instantly doubling the number of races in a season to over 40.

“Well, I think it’s stupid… I think the race is on Sunday. I don’t know why we do something on Saturday,” said the Monster Yamaha rider.

“Honestly they didn’t really ask us and at the end I think we all prefer so much to make a good race on Sunday.

“To have a sprint race [as well as all] the races on Sunday, I think is stupid.”

 

Aleix Espargaro had more technical objections: “I don’t like the idea. I would like to talk about this with Dorna. 

“Full respect to Superbike, but this is not Superbike. MotoGP has a lot of electronics, a lot of aerodynamics, a lot of things, a lot of engineers. To arrive at a good setting is very difficult.

“Now with the [top ten] system – FP1, FP2 and FP3 – it is already like qualifying and it is very difficult if it rains – like here – to have [time to find] a good setting [for the race].

“If they now reduce our [practice] time and we have to race on Saturday, I think it is difficult.

“I love racing, I hate the winter tests, but I don’t think this is a good solution here.”

The Spaniard added: “[More races] can be good for the show, but it’s not ideal because of these bikes; we need a balance.

“We need [practice] time to develop the bikes. What you see on the streetbikes and the Aprilia 1000 is coming from here. The wheelie control that the street bike has we developed for the last three years, the wings [also].

“It is OK if we have to race on Saturday, but at the same time we have to develop things and try things [in practice].

“Before I process this [Sprint race idea] I would like to understand if FP1 and FP2 will change much and if we will give up more practice time.

“Sincerely, I love racing. I hate practicing, but it’s necessary!”

Pol Espargaro: ‘Double work, double risk, same money’

While also awaiting full details, and lamenting riders hadn’t been more involved in the Sprint race discussions, younger brother Pol Espargaro described the idea as meaning “double the risk, with the same money. We race twice per weekend and racing means more risk because you’re closer to the guys, you want to overtake the guy in front. This is more risky.

“I know Superbike is doing that [sprint races] but these bikes are heavier, faster and for sure it’s more dangerous to race with these bikes. If you asked me if I like, I’d say no… It’s double work and double risk. It’s not unbelievably good.

“I’m just answering as a rider. For the TV, it’s double the show. I’d like someone to ask me before we realise we’re going to race twice next year…”

Bagnaia: ‘Maybe it is too much’

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia also had concerns, highlighting the increased physical and mental demands.

“I would like to hear what other riders think and speak about it in the safety commission because this [Sprint races] is a surprise,” he said.

“In a place like Austin, the normal race is already so demanding mentally and physically. Two races there will be so long and difficult. We will speak because every year adding more and more races is mentally and physically more difficult. Maybe it is too much. Maybe we can ask to reduce. It is a bit strange to start from zero with another schedule, for me.”

Quartararo, who starts this weekend with a 22-point title lead over Espargaro, was speaking after being the only non-Ducati in the top eight during Friday practice at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

“The pace looks good, but we know that alone we always have good pace, then in the race things can change,” Quartararo said, referring to being trapped in traffic.

“The good thing is that at least we know we have the speed [here], Rins was also going super fast. It’s strange that with the soft tyre he couldn’t improve, but yes, I think our pace is great.

“It was a shame we had yellow flag. We had a little bit of a misunderstanding with the team changing the front tyre and I did my fastest laps on the lap three and four, so I think we have a little bit of margin.”

Quartararo also quashed suggestions that the new chicane would make one of the Yamaha’s toughest tracks even harder.

“Looking at sector one, we are second [fastest], so for sure it’s better!” he said.

“I prefer the older layout, but at the end you prefer what you go faster on and what is better for you. And for us it’s much better to have this.

“It’s first gear, I didn’t expect it to be that slow. When you go walking or on a bicycle everything looks much bigger, but on the bike it’s so small and it’s [working] better for us.”

The next best Yamaha, after Quartararo, was Franco Morbidelli in 17th.

Bagnaia, winner of the last two races, was a fraction behind Quartararo in fifth, with Espargaro in eleventh place.

“On this track it is very important to stop the bike fully straight and the worst thing of the Aprilia is this,” explained Espargaro.

“I struggle a lot and could not understand how to do it. For the first two runs of FP2 I just went wide everywhere. I didn’t even have a lap-time.

“Today for me was shocking. I just woke up in the last two minutes and did good laps alone close to the fastest guys but I need more time.

“The new chicane is much better but I was not good with my riding today and I didn’t really understand it

“It was my fault, I was not fast enough there but they did a good job and it is much safer.”

Espargaro’s team-mate Maverick Vinales was ninth.

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