‘During the MotoGP race at the Motul TT Assen, an incident between #20 fabio quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and #41 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) saw rider #20 crash and make contact with #41 at Turn 5,’ read a statement from the FIM Stewards.
‘The FIM MotoGP Stewards panel deemed Quartararo was overly ambitious in attempting to overtake A Espargaro. #20 was not in a position to successfully complete the move and subsequently crashed, causing contact with #41 and forcing him to run wide.
‘The avoiding action undertaken by A Espargaro allowed him to avoid crashing and rejoin. Nevertheless, his race was severely impacted. Quartararo has been given a Long Lap penalty to be served in the MotoGP race at the Monster Energy British Grand Prix’.
After finishing all ten previous MotoGP races this season, reigning champion Fabio Quartararo fell twice in the space of 10 dramatic laps at Assen on Sunday. Pecco Bagnaia went on to win the race.
Quartararo labelled the first incident, a clash with title rival Aleix Espargaro during a fumbled pass at the hairpin, as a ‘stupid mistake’.
But he felt lucky to escape the second, a nasty highside due to a possible traction control failure, without any broken bones.
“I made a stupid mistake,” Quartararo said of the lap 5 lunge inside Espargaro for second place, which resulted in the Frenchman losing the front of his Yamaha and crashing into the Aprilia.
“It was not necessary to make this kind of move on the [5th] lap, but I’ll learn from that mistake.
“Pecco had made a good gap on the first lap, but then Aleix and I were able to catch him,” Quartararo added. “I just saw an opportunity. The previous lap I saw that I could make a move, now I was a little bit more far and I braked too hard.
“I thought I could make it, but I didn’t.”
While Espargaro was forced through the gravel trap before starting a remarkable charge from 15th to fourth, Quartararo remounted in last place.
Struggling to match his earlier pace due to possible bike damage, the Frenchman then pulled into the pits for what looked like a retirement.
But after discussions with the Monster Yamaha team, he was sent back out.
“I don’t know [why]!” he admitted. “Basically, I was one lap [down]. I came into the pits because I felt there was a problem, but the team told me to go out again because maybe there was rain coming.”
Quartararo almost paid a very high price for that decision when he was thrown into a brutal highside, at the exit of the same Turn 5 hairpin, on lap 12.
“I feel lucky not to have something broken after that,” he said, before confirming likely damage to his traction control system from the earlier incident.
“They are looking right now, but I’m pretty sure that the sensor of the traction control was pretty damaged.
“[The bike] was almost straight [when it highsided]so… it [the TC] was damaged.”
The impact left Quartararo with a sore shoulder, “but in any case it’s a shame, because it’s all my mistake and I could make a much better result than crashing on the [5th] lap and then crashing again.
“We crashed only two times during all the first part of the season, and now twice in 10 laps, so pretty bad!”
The fact Quartararo had also tangled with his nearest title rival gave the first incident added spice, although he was quick to apologise to Aleix afterwards.
“It’s racing. You want to fight with your opponents,” he said. “It was not a thing that I make on purpose, of course, but just a stupid mistake.
“Before the race, we spoke with the team and the strategy was going to be; if I was first, try to push. But if I was behind, try not to make any mistakes.
“And I did the reverse.”
Quartararo and Espargaro are now separated by 21-points in the world championship standings and, Quartararo revealed, about 200 metres between their respective homes in Andorra!
“For two days I will punch myself, but then of course you will think about all the previous races that I did well,” Quartararo said of his feelings heading into the summer break.