Fabio Quartararo hails 'incredible' first MotoGP podium

Fabio Quartararo was over the moon with his maiden MotoGP rostrum finish after finish as runner-up to Marc Marquez in the Catalan grand prix at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

The Frenchman started the race from his second MotoGP pole, his first coming at Jerez earlier this year, and got a good start to challenge for the top three heading through the first couple of corners.

However a touch with Marquez dropped him down to eighth and away from the leading pack early on. He was handed a golden opportunity however when Jorge Lorenzo crashed at Turn 10, taking out fellow front-runners Andrea Dovizioso, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi with him out of the race.

The Petronas SRT Yamaha pilot found himself in third behind Marquez and Danilo Petrucci as a result. He then battled for second for the rest of the race with Petrucci’s Ducati as well as the Suzuki of Alex Rins.

Rins then made a critical error while making a move on Petrucci at Turn 1 in the closing laps, running wide and dropping to sixth and allowing Quartararo a free run at the Mugello victor.

He duly made the move stick by driving up the inside of the Ducati at the fast Turn 3 right-hander, immediately gapping Petrucci and even halving Marquez’s 5.3 second advantage by the time the chequered flag dropped.

His second place was also the first for the new Petronas SRT team, which is embarking on its first premier class campaign this year after competing exclusively in Moto2 and Moto3 in the past. Thier previous best result was fifth, captured by Morbidelli at the Northern American round of the championship at the Circuit of the Americas.

Quartararo was robbed of a maiden podium when a mechanical issue struck his year-old M1 Yamaha while running in a strong second at Jerez, his best result until today being seventh, also at COTA.

“It feels incredible. The first career podium of mine in MotoGP,” said Quartararo after the race.

“The beginning of the race was tough as I had a small touch with Marc, and I lost a lot of positions. But at the end I was with Danilo and Alex, it was pretty difficult on the straight as they pulled away so I had to push a lot in the corners and I eventually was able to overtake Danilo.

“Then in this moment I said I need to make a big gap, to not be overtaken on the straight, and I did so at the end I’m really happy.”

Quartararo also reckoned that he could possibly have fought for victory had he not dropped back in the early stages of the race.

"If we (Marquez) started together then maybe we could have had a really good fight, but Marc managed better than me to be at the front.

“But I think it’s normal because he’s got a lot more experience than me, it’s only my second start from Pole so I need to be more aggressive and calm because for sure we could have been in a better position.”