Fabio Quartararo wins in Mugello, though we lose a friend, a rider. Remembering Jason Dupasquier after a tragic loss
Author: Myanna Wedes
The Mugello race weekend brought happiness, sadness and tears with Fabio Quartararo winning after a dominant race display though a tragedy occurred on Saturday making our hearts skip a beat and emotions run high with the loss of Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier. The events on Sunday were not like a normal race because at one stage, it was praying for a recovery and then it was an announcement of the young riders passing. The Swiss rider was incredibly talented, well-loved in the paddock and a promising young rider. We wish all the best and send our support out to Jason’s family.
In between the chaos, we had an incredible weekend of racing across all classes. There was non-stop racing competitiveness in Moto3 with riders swapping positions, Moto2 finishing with the second closest finish in history with Remy Gardner winning and Quartararo extending his title lead after Pecco Bagnaia crashed out of the lead!
One of the hardest things to do during a race weekend is ride after the loss of a fellow member of the paddock. Once the minute of silence was honoured, the riders had to shift their mindsets into race mode. It does take a certain type of individual to push past the adversity and race on the limit which took place between Quartararo, Miguel Oliveira, Johann Zarco, Jack Miller, Joan Mir and Alex Rins to name a few.
All of the riders mentioned raced with precision even when the starts were rough and the tyres not working to the optimum level. The Yamaha rider “El Diablo” was on another level and once he found clear air, was able to extend his gap out the front and focus on his own race. Whilst the ride from Mir was truly remarkable putting his Suzuki to the test and finding incredible corner entry and exit speed which certainly helped propel him forward. The last lap was not short of controversy with both Oliveira and Mir exceeding track limits, swapping positions and then swapping them again. The hard work was over!
“In short, there was a lot of emotion today. It was an amazing day for us, but it was so difficult to stay focused. Honestly, I don’t know how I was able to keep up this pace because every lap you do, you are thinking about Jason Dupasquier. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I think that all the riders rode for him. My thoughts are with his family. My strategy today was to see which position we would get with the use of the holeshot device. I am super happy with it. I was in second place at the first corner. I remember 2019, when I started from second here and I think I was eighth or ninth in the first corner. So, it was amazing to arrive at the first corner in fourth gear and in second position today. I was riding easily behind Francesco Bagnaia, and when I saw him crash, I wanted to try to ride five laps at my maximum. But then Johann Zarco overtook me. So I said, ‘I need to do aggressive moves’. First of all to make him lose time and also to open up a gap. I thought, ‘if I can hold on to first going into the first corner, it’s good’, and that’s what happened. So, I’m really happy about my race.”
“Well, actually I didn't have enough feeling with the front. I struggled a lot. Somehow, I was so good during FP1, but at that time I was riding with the soft front. So we need to check what makes such a big difference in the front feeling between compounds for us. We need to find out why I struggled with the medium front tyre this entire weekend. I couldn't turn and couldn't make a big improvement in my lap times. Basically, during this race I struggled a lot. It wasn't a good weekend for us unfortunately, and overall today was a sad day. It was very emotional to stand on the starting grid before the race for the one-minute silence in remembrance of Jason Dupasquier. I send my condolences to his family and friends as well as his team.”
The biggest mistake of the weekend goes to Bagnaia. He was leading the race! Within a fraction of a second, he was crashing and hands covering his helmet as he realised that his fate was sealed and that a Mugello victory was gone plus vital Championship points lost. They are riders though also human, so losing today was shadowed by the events of the weekend. It was a relief to see Bagnia unhurt and on his feet, looking forward to the next race in Barcelona. On the other side of the garage, Miller did the best he could with the circumstances of the race and tyres. The result was key points though not reflective of the true speed Miller has when he is comfortable on board the Ducati. The soft tyre was like racing in wet conditions so mediums were the chosen option. Those who gambled on softs, suffered greatly and Ducati were dethroned in Mugello by the Yamaha crew. Every time Quartararo rode into turn nine, he thought of Jason whilst Bagnia lost concentration. It really is a fine line as to how you will go throughout a race and with such a physically demanding circuit there to test you in all department of riding a motorcycle. We are proud of Miller and look forward to seeing Bagnaia back on track as well bringing some more results home for Ducati fans.
"Today was a race of survival and, with the wind, I struggled a lot. I did my best, trying to make up positions towards the end, but I didn't feel completely comfortable. In any case, today, we take some important points for the overall standings. Now we have to leave Mugello behind us and move on to the next race in Barcelona, where we'll definitely aim for a better result".
"First of all, I want to apologise to the whole team. I made a mistake, and it's a pity because we've worked hard all weekend and had the potential to fight for the win. Unfortunately, after the news of Jason Dupasquier's passing, I couldn't keep my concentration. Now we have to move on and start focusing on the next race, which will take place next week in Barcelona".
Fitness wise, Marc Marquez is still not 100% and you can feel the pain this weekend pushing himself at Mugello. We think that some time off to repair even further will do Marquez wonders, though he has a few tasks to overcome between now and the summer break. It was unfortunate for Marquez who miscalculated Brad Binder’s positioning and caused the two to hit and send Marquez packing for an early shower. The problem with this, is that Maruqez needs ride time to reacquaint himself and the more DNF’s the worse it will be to race on the limit and feel the positive points of the bike. Honda are certainly struggling in comparison to the rest of the manufacturers on the grid. Look at Aprilia Gresini for example, Aleix Espargaro is doing wonders with the bike even when his arm pump surgery left him with an arm to drain fluid from all weekend long, to the size of a coca cola can to be exact. He is proving himself as a valuable asset to the team and certainly his brother Pol Espargaro would be watching with interest to learn how he has mastered such a challenging bike because the Repsol Honda is a beast he has yet to tame. Finishing fourth for big brother Espargaro was well earned and we know deep down, Papa Espargaro would have been relieved to get home and hug his children after an emotionally draining weekend.
“It has been a very hard weekend for MotoGP, we have lost a young talent, a young rider inside the paddock. This situation is very hard for everyone, and we wish everyone close to Jason all the best. Unfortunately we finished the race much earlier than we were expecting and it was really not a good situation because I need laps on the bike. I had contact with Brad Binder, it was a racing incident, and this happens many times here at this track. I thought that Binder was further back and in the change of direction, we touched, it as my mistake. Luckily no one else fell. Now we prepare for Catalunya after this difficult weekend for the MotoGP family.”
“This was a demanding day for me. We missed going straight through to Q2 this morning due to a problem and that forced me to do an extra session, which is certainly not ideal for the situation with my arm. Then, the bad accident in Moto3 shook me up. I am a father and certain things strike me particularly hard. In any case, I was able to refocus well enough to go through Q1 and do two great laps in Q2 as well. Taking the Aprilia this high here in Mugello is a source of great satisfaction for me. I am extremely satisfied with my performance in all conditions. It will be a difficult race tomorrow. I’ll most probably have to grit my teeth and we’ll have to manage rear tyre wear. But I won’t rule out any result.”
“Today our results are not the focus, the most important thing is thinking of Jason and his family. Today we all had him in our hearts and minds when we raced. My race was difficult today, the start was ok and I was behind Taka. Then something happened with the wing and I lost it, which made it very complicated. I was losing a lot of aerodynamics, changing direction was very hard and the bike was not behaving. This happened on lap four or five so it was difficult. We will keep working in Barcelona.”
In comparison, both KTM riders of Oliveira and Binder were superb. The KTM riders have profited from the change in chassis and fuel supplier. The race pace and display of confidence from the Portuguese rider was wonderful to see as the 2021 season to date has been hard for the Austrian factory. The results of this weekend provide clear insight as to where they can pick up the groove and bring home points plus podium positions. Binder had a moment with Marquez which upset the rhythm and air bag, although his recovery to ride with a calm mindset was rewarded. Moments like this enable riders like Oliveira and Binder to see what can be achieved and the glory on offer.
“It was a good race and a strong weekend. We saw we had one of the best race paces out there. I was not strong enough to push at the beginning with the tires but then I got in my rhythm, I managed to get to 2nd and then could keep Joan Mir behind me, which was not easy. I would have liked to have made this podium in different circumstances. We can be happy but not completely, and our thoughts are with Jason’s family right now.”
“I’m happy with 5th today, even if I did want more but I had a crazy race. I almost tucked the front on the Sighting Lap, so I was trying to work out the conditions and why I felt different. I didn’t have a perfect start and then I was cautious on the first three laps. Marc [Marquez] rode into me and my airbag fired which meant I couldn’t move for almost a lap! After that I could finally get into a rhythm and chase the group in front of me although I didn’t quite have the pace to get through it. Anyway, I’m pleased with another top five and we’ll try to keep this momentum for the next races.”
Team Suzuki Ecstar did a wonderful job though Alex Rins, once again hit the pavement and entered the gravel. Serious conversations are going to be had with Rins because he is so talented and the results are not how they should be appearing. Mir came to light throughout the race and showed to the world why he became a World Champion in 2020. Dynamic, quiet and putting his moves onto the circuit for others to challenge, it was a race where Suzuki excelled in the corners, lacked straight line speed and continued a nice display of teamwork. Confidence is clear for both riders, though Suzuki need them to finish together and as close to the victory as possible. The front end for Rins is the problem area to focus on, as the team work closely with him to find ways to improve and let his talent be shown on the circuit. The next race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will be a reason to shine!
“It was very difficult to put the helmet on today, a really hard day at the office. What happened to Jason was incredibly sad - we are all humans and part of a paddock family, so of course we feel all these emotions. It’s been the saddest podium of my career, and also for Fabio and Miguel I’m sure. I send my warmest wishes to Jason’s family and team and dedicate this podium to them. My crew did great job this weekend, the bike improved every day and I gave my absolute all, so I’m pleased to repay them with this 3rd place. I would also like to dedicate this result to our team member, Elvio, who was badly injured in an accident last year but was finally able to join us here in Mugello. Now it’s time to rest a bit and get prepared for Montmelo.”
“It’s difficult to say what happened today, because I was riding well behind Joan and holding strong positions and making passes. During the race I felt pretty good with the bike, but not quite the same feeling as during practices. I was struggling a bit with the front of the bike, and we need to analyse what happened because I can’t figure it out. It’s four DNFs for me in a row now, and that’s not normal, so we need to find out what’s going on, causing me to lose the front and crash out. Luckily I’m fine physically, but obviously I am feeling very disappointed. This weekend has been very tough for everybody, and my thoughts are with Jason Dupasquier’s family and friends. Now we need some time to refocus before Barcelona next weekend.”
Finally, we still await news of Valentino Rossi’s plans, although this weekend was a stronger finish for “The Doctor”. Points made him happy though it is not an ideal situation to be in with poor qualifying positions and constant hard work to start from the rear of the grid. The PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team need a result to be proud of and right now, both riders are looking pretty average. It is only a matter of time before change has to be made in order for Rossi and Franco Morbidelli to perform.
My condolences go to the family of Jason Dupasquier, his team and also his friends. When these things happen it is difficult to find the will to race, because you question what is the point of racing? But unfortunately you also ask what is the sense in not racing? You cannot change what happened. It was very difficult to put the helmet on and concentrate on the race today. I lost a bit of time in the first corner because of contact, but after that my pace was decent. I was able to recover, do some overtakes and I could stay inside the top-ten. It is not fantastic, but we have taken some points today.
Today was very difficult to concentrate and be focused for the race because of the very sad news that we received before the race. Our sport can be like this sometimes; unfortunately it is a dangerous sport and things like this can happen. I’m really sorry for what happened, but it’s important to absorb this hard hit and go forward with the same energy as always. My condolences go to all of Jason Dupasquier’s loved ones. Regarding the race, another rider crashed in front of me on the second lap and I had to avoid both him and his bike. I had to try not to crash myself as well, which I managed, but it cost me a lot of time and I was unable to stay with the pack. Anyway, I didn’t have the speed that I would have wanted today and overall it just wasn’t the best of days, for many reasons. I’m now looking forward to forgetting this weekend and to face another race in Barcelona next week.
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