Motorcycling Quartararo promises aggression in Malaysian MotoGP with championship on the line

(Reuters) – Reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo “has nothing to lose” after surrendering top spot in the riders’ standings to Francesco Bagnaia and promises he will push his limits at the Malaysian GP when the season winds down nearing its end.

Bagnaia raced to the top of the World Championship standings with a third place finish in Australia on Sunday after Quartararo fell.

Quartararo held a 44-point lead over Bagnaia after the Austrian GP in August but has gained just eight points in the last four races – crashing twice and finishing 17th in Thailand.

“The last few races haven’t been that fun for me, but right now I’m in a position where I really don’t have to think about anything,” Quartararo, who is now 14 points behind Bagnaia, told reporters on Thursday.

“I think it’s obviously a different mentality and I’ll be driving this GP in a different mood. So I’ll go into the race and push myself from the start of the weekend…”

There were positive signs for the Frenchman on Friday, however, when he finished seventh in the first free practice session, ahead of Bagnaia (11th).

Bagnaia can secure the title with one race left if he wins on Sunday and Quartararo finishes outside the top three.

He wants to become the first Italian MotoGP champion since 2009 and the first Ducati rider to win the championship since 2007.

“Sure the pressure is there. I’m starting to feel the pressure but right now I’m pretty happy and I know we’ve done something really good this year,” Bagnaia told reporters on Thursday.

“Nevertheless, we have to get the job done and that’s what I’m concentrating on at the moment.”

MotoGP action will return to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on Sunday for the first time since 2019 after the last two editions of the race were canceled due to COVID-19.