Team ENEOS Salvages Points at Australian MotoGP 2023
Due to forecasts of bad weather, the 2023 Australian MotoGP took place on Saturday instead, and was a challenging competition for Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli; they finished the 27-lap race in 14th and 17th respectively.
Quartararo qualified P17 but a three-place grid penalty for Augusto Fernandez allowed the Frenchman to start P16 instead. Without a solid start he found himself in last place negotiating the opening corners, but overtook Takaaki Nakagami to finish lap 1 in 20th place. He closed the gap to Morbidelli on lap 9 and overtook him, then moved up to 17th after Joan Mir and Fernandez crashed out.
During the final third of the race, El Diablo overtook Pol Espargaró, leaving only one rider between himself and a championship point. He rallied to pass Raul Fernandez on lap 21, and with five laps remaining he overtook Marc Marquez in the final corner of the last lap to finish 14th, 20.949sec from first.
“It was a tough race, and we had to work hard to take small steps forward,” Quartararo said. “I expected much better, but we have to keep working hard to find solutions.”
Morbidelli started P20 and climbed to P18 on the opening lap, but had to focus on defending his position from Miguel Oliveira. It was a good fight but he dropped to 19th, just slightly ahead of Quartararo, who eventually overtook him. He then began his battle with Nakagami and held firm, overtaking him and Espargaró on the last lap to finish 17th, 37.663sec from first.
“I was content with the first half of the race, but I simply dropped too much during the second half,” said Morbidelli. “We have to keep believing anything is possible as we try to progress.”
Quartararo holds tenth in the overall standings with 134 points, and Morbidelli dropped to 13th with 79 points. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP remain sixth in the team standings with 213 points, and Yamaha holds fourth in the manufacturer standings with 154 points.