In this week's MCN paper: Quartararo - ‘Mentally, I couldn’t manage’

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Dear MCN reader,

Welcome to this week’s new issue of MCN.

Of all the numerous struggles and obstacles that both disrupted and heightened the drama of what turned out to be an incredibly exciting MotoGP championship in 2020, the collapse of Fabio Quartararo’s title challenge was one of the most dramatic (on track, at least).

Having enjoyed a dream start to the season off the back of a thrilling 2019 championship assault, the writing seemed to be painted high and wide on the wall: Fabio was going to be champion. And then it all slid away from him – sometimes literally. So what went wrong? Ahead of this week’s first test in Qatar, we speak to Fabio about the weight of expectation, problems within the Yamaha MotoGP camp and the mental struggles that saw him snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Crucially, he also speaks about the changes he’s made with the help of a psychologist to ensure that he’s properly prepared and tougher than ever for the season ahead. It’s a gritty, honest and fascinating read.

Light at the end of the tunnel

As in any crisis, you soon get to see the very best and worst of humankind. But the sheer volume of good people doing spectacularly good things for others should be what we remember most when this terrible struggle against Covid is finally over.

The timing of the Government’s roadmap to relaxing the restrictions we all live under feels all the more poignant in the week that Captain Sir Tom Moore – a shining light amidst the gloom of Covid – was laid to rest. His love of bikes and racing, and of course his military service, meant he knew what freedom really felt like and that sometimes you have to fight for it. The ‘win’ isn’t always simple or immediate, though – and that’s very true of our prospects for getting back on two wheels.

With some of the Government’s guidance being a little vague, we spoke to the Cabinet Office this week to find out just what you can and can’t do as the restrictions start to ease next week. Possibly the most thrilling biking summer ever is just around the corner – and we’ve detailed what you’ll be legally allowed to do, and when, so you can start planning your return to biking freedom in 2021.

And there’s more…

Elsewhere in this week’s issue we ride the brand-new Yamaha MT-09. It’s got more power, less weight and has dialled up the fun factor while also playing host to a burgeoning suite of rider aids. It feels like the MT has really come of age – but is it enough to beat increasingly tough competition in the middleweight naked class? We also grab a first test of the Kawasaki’s extreme new ZX-10R, the basis of bike that Johnny Rea will be hoping to pilot to a seventh WSB title this year.

At the less scalpel-esque end of the biking spectrum we also pitch BMW’s new R nineT against Triumph’s Speed Twin on our exhaustive road test routes; our spy photographer captures Kawasaki’s new Ninja H2 SX being tested on the road with some interesting new tech on show; look at the budget bike brand that’s shaming bigger manufacturers with anti-theft tech; select our top five iconic 90s bargain buys; review six of the best 3-season gloves you can buy; and say a very heartfelt goodbye to the brilliant Fausto Gresini, who sadly lost his battle with Covid-19 last week.

Enjoy the issue,

Richard


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Richard Newland

By Richard Newland

Editor