Yamaha race director Lin Jarvis warns against giving up on defending the title already and can imagine there will be a surprise at Valencia
Ducati factory rider Francesco Bagnaia’s victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix gave him an early lead in the world championship duel with defending champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha). Before the final race, Bagnaia is in the lead with 258 points, Quartararo has 235 points and is thus 23 points behind. If Quartararo wins, a 14th place finish would be enough for Bagnaia to secure the title.
Yamaha’s chances are thus extremely slim, as a Quartararo win alone should be difficult under normal circumstances. Last year Ducati dominated the season finale in Valencia. Back then, Bagnaia won ahead of his brand colleagues Jorge Martin and Jack Miller.
Yamaha race director Lin Jarvis is clinging to a theoretical chance of defending the title ahead of the season finale. “We are still in the race. We have to be happy with that,” Jarvis commented to ‘MotoGP.com’ after the Sepang races.
Bad memories of the 2006 MotoGP season finale
The Yamaha race director recalls the season finale 16 years ago in this context. Back then, Yamaha factory rider Valentino Rossi came to Valencia as the world championship leader. World Championship rival Nicky Hayden (Honda) had 236 points on his account before the final race, while Rossi travelled to Spain with 244 points and was therefore the clear favourite.
The World Championship celebrations were already set, but a crash by Rossi and a third place finish by Hayden turned the championship around at the final race. Hayden took the MotoGP title with a five-point lead. Yamaha and Rossi were in shock.
“I remember Valencia 2006,” notes the Yamaha race director. “It was supposed to be just a formality then, but in the race the unthinkable happened. Valentino crashed and Nicky took the title. Valencia is a very difficult track. Anything is possible. “
The form curve of Yamaha and Quartararo has been showing some signs of improvement recently. After Quartararo collected a meagre eight points at Aragon, Motegi, Buriram and Phillip Island, the Frenchman made it back onto the podium at Sepang.
“He was able to use his natural style again. He rode very fluidly and precisely. I think he got a lot of confidence back because of that,” explains Yamaha Race Director Lin Jarvis, adding: “Everything is still possible, but we need some help from the top. “