Fabio Quartararo says he suffered “belly ache” due to nerves ahead of the Americas Grand Prix, the Frenchman having now taken another step towards earning his first MotoGP championship.
Quartararo managed to make a crucial pass on title rival Francesco Bagnaia at Turn 1 as the race got underway to slot in behind leader Marc Marquez, and despite finding himself ultimately unable to seriously challenge the Honda rider for victory, he crucially managed to outrun Bagnaia to finish as runner-up and extend his points advantage from 48 to 52 with only three races to run.
The factory Yamaha racer reckoned his second place felt “even better than a victory” when taking into account his championship position, though he insisted he was putting no pressure upon his shoulders to secure the title he has “been dreaming about for 15 years” at the next round in Italy.
“This result felt even better than a victory because you are getting closer to the championship, and now there is one less race,” said Quartararo.
“When you have ten races to go you don’t think about one (as a big deal) but now with four, and now three it’s an amazing moment and I feel I’m in the best moment of my life right now and I’m enjoying it so much.
“Of course it feels good (chance to be crowned champion at Misano) but this race I had a lot of pressure just from myself, I had a bit of belly ache before the start but now we have 50 points of advantage I have no pressure at Misano, and if we can’t get it there then Portimao will be the moment to achieve it.
“I’m in championship mode but if I can fight for the victory in Misano I’ll go for it, but we’ll take it step by step.
“There is a lot of emotion, I’ve been dreaming about this for 15 years and now we are a big step closer for that.”
Quartararo’s Circuit of the Americas outing ended up being a rather quiet one after the respective challenges of Jorge Martin and Jack Miller faded in the closing stages, the eight-time premier class winner revealing he had to push “to my maximum” due to the big group of riders behind.
He accepted he was consistently around “three or four” tenths slower than the eventual race victor, but says he is “very happy” to achieve his goal of scoring the tenth rostrum result of his 2021 campaign.
“I tried (to catch Marc Marquez) because there was a big group behind me so I tried to push at my maximum,” added Quartararo.
“I wasn’t sure why Marc was at that pace at the beginning but then he pulled away so fast and I just tried to do my best pace, and this was about three or four tenths slower than him but my goal was to be on the podium and I achieved it so I’m very happy.”
Quartararo’s run to second meant that the number of riders still with a mathematical title shot reduced from five to two as reigining MotoGP world champion Joan Mir, Pramac’s Johann Zarco as well as Miller all dropped out of the running, therefore just leaving Bagnaia in play to deny him.
Quartararo will win the title at Misano either if he finishes ahead of the Italian or if he concedes less than two points, though this won’t be easy when bearing in mind Bagnaia’s electric form at the venue-having won there just two weeks ago as well as only losing success last season due to an errant helmet tear-off.