'We did 1,200km every weekend': Quartararo's long road to victory

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) (AFP) –


Fabio Quartararo revealed Sunday the challenges he had to overcome, including regular 1,200km road trips, which have put him on the path to a potential world MotoGP title.

The 21-year-old Frenchman claimed his second successive win in the coronavirus-delayed championship at the Andalucia Grand Prix, backing up his Spanish GP triumph on the same Jerez track last weekend.

As he warmly embraced his "idol", and seven-time elite class champion Valentino Rossi on the podium, Quartararo recalled his tough route to the pinnacle of the sport.

"It was not easy. When I was seven years old we used to take a van with my father to go to Spain and we did more than 1,200 kilometres every weekend for training, for races," he explained.

"You can imagine how hard it was and I never stopped travelling between the ages of seven and 15.

"In France, there were three or four riders who were fighting for the championship but when I arrived in Catalonia, there were 15 ... and they were going faster than me."

Six years on from those exhausting cross-border road trips, Quartararo is already the first French rider to win multiple MotoGP races.

He has done it on a Yamaha satellite bike but in 2021 he will ascend to the factory team replacing 41-year-old Rossi, who was third on Sunday.

"To be on the podium with Valentino is fantastic," said Quartararo who still owns a photo of him and the great Italian taken when he was a child.

Sunday's victory was also a triumph of will and stamina with air temperatures at 36 degrees and the track at a melting 59.

"Halfway through I looked at how many laps were left and when I saw it was still 12, I said 'wow, that's too long'," said Quartararo who eventually came home 4.5 seconds ahead of Maverick Vinales, his 2021 teammate.

"My hands were so hot."

Sunday's win gives the French rider a 10-point lead in the championship over Vinales while defending champion Marc Marquez sat out the race after undergoing surgery on a broken arm.

In a truncated season, Quartararo knows he already has the advantage.

"Marc will come back for Brno (the next race), Maverick is very strong, Vale (Rossi) is back on the podium.

"The championship is very short so if it's possible to have as few rivals as possible, it's good for us."