Yamaha boss Massimo Meregalli claims that despite a challenging 2022 MotoGP season, the Japanese manufacturer would never give up on returning Franco Morbidelli to his race-winning form of 2020.

Morbidelli, who won three races on his Petronas SRT-run 2019-spec M1 and finished second in the championship to Suzuki’s Joan Mir, was Yamaha’s top rider in 2020.

Since then, he has had trouble regaining that form. His 2021 season was marred by an ageing bike and injury issues, and joining the factory team forced him to deal with a challenging transition to the Yamaha of 2022.

Morbidelli’s fate for 2023 was briefly in doubt despite having a signed contract because he currently ranks 19th in the standings with only 25 points, compared to teammate Fabio Quartararo’s 172 points at the top of the rankings.  But Yamaha is determined to uphold that and is making efforts to restore him to his original form.

“At the moment Fabio is really the only one who can exploit the good points of the Yamaha, but we are really working hard to try to get back Franco where he was in 2020,” Meregalli said ahead of the summer break last month. “We all know his capability and we will never give up until we reach this target. We are convinced about the speed and the performance Franco has.”

“At this moment we are really looking for a solution that will allow him to be more comfortable on the bike, to be faster and consistent because probably the race results don’t show what he is doing in the recent races but the pace he is showing in the practices is already improving.”

Morbidelli’s qualifying performance, according to Meregalli, is what conceals the real pace advancements he has achieved this year.

“What he’s missing now is the time attack, it’s also very difficult to understand,” Meregalli added. “He complains that he has too much grip and he can’t turn and let the bike spin as he would like.”

“I’m quite convinced with a better starting position for sure his results in races will definitely be better. It’s not easy for us to recover positions during the race. So, for the moment we will achieve the goal to take him to starting more towards the front we will start seeing Franky back on his speed.”

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