French Grand Prix polesitter Fabio Quartararo insists his strategy for Sunday’s Le Mans race won’t change owing to MotoGP title rival Joan Mir’s worst qualifying result of the season.
Petronas SRT’s Quartararo and Suzuki’s Mir are split by eight points at the head of the MotoGP standings, with Quartararo blitzing the field for a home pole position at Le Mans.
Mir failed to make it out of Q1 and will line up in 14th, offering a prime opportunity for Quartararo to extend his points lead on Sunday.
Quartararo is flanked by the fast-starting Ducatis of Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci on the front row, but is confident his pace in the first sector hasn’t already resigned him to a losing battle with the Desmosedicis.
He also insists he is “not thinking about Mir” right now and how that could force him into banking points instead of going for the win depending on where the Suzuki rider ends up.
“We know that they [the Ducatis] start really well, but we can manage to get good starts,” Quartararo said when asked by Autosport how Mir’s qualifying and starting alongside Ducatis would affect his approach to the race.
“So, I’m not really thinking about it. [I will] try to do my best. The first sector I’m actually good, so we’ll do the best as possible to make a good first sector in the first lap. But we’ll see.
“But, honestly, I’m not thinking about Mir. I just want to enjoy. I think we have great pace to fight for the podium and for the victory. So, [I will] just try to be calm and do our best. This is what I’m thinking for tomorrow more than the championship.”
Suzuki riders have typically struggled in qualifying this year, with neither Mir nor team-mate Alex Rins making it to the front row in 2020.
The colder temperatures at Le Mans this weekend have exacerbated the Suzuki’s inability to extract the maximum from soft rubber in a time attack mode, with Mir noting he’s losing half a second in the first sector alone.
“Looks like we are coming, we are improving but not enough,” Mir said. “I think we have margin to improve for tomorrow, but the reality is we’ll start really far back.
“We are working to improve in that area, the temperature with the front tyres is something for the moment we struggle with.
“I lose a lot of time in the first sector, because the first left corner I’m not able to stop the bike, I don’t have any feedback and if I try anymore [to push] I just lose the front. This is really difficult, I lose half a second in the first sector and this is a lot of time.
“But the good news is, in the other sectors we are fast. This means we can be fast but we need to find a solution for the first sector. If we improve three tenths, or two tenths in that sector, tomorrow we can make a really good race.”