Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales showed great stamina and character in today‘s sweltering Gran Premio d‘Italia Oakley, riding back from a provisional 12th to take sixth place at the chequered flag. Valentino Rossi was fortunately unharmed but unable to continue after an unlucky fall on lap 7.
Starting from P7, Viñales lost a few positions in the tussle of entering the first corner and settled in twelfth position. After a few laps he gained two places and tucked in behind fellow Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo, hoping to join the rider group of nine in front.
With relentless focus he reeled them in and tapped them on the back lying in ninth place when Francesco Bagnaia crashed out with 11 laps to go. But soon the group was pulled apart again. The Spaniard, however, used his experience and kept his head cool. Like he predicted yesterday, he managed the tyres and used his great physical fitness to bring a strong challenge to the riders ahead of him in the final stages.
With eight laps to go he gained a place as Jack Miller ended up in the gravel, which was the no.12 rider’s cue to start his late charge. Over the next two laps he overtook Quartararo and Crutchlow, moving up to sixth place. With an over 1s-gap to the rival in front of him, the Yamaha man pushed to the max but was unable to inch close enough. He finished sixth, 7.481s from first.
Rossi had a decent start from P18 and, despite the flurry of activity in the busy rider field, gained two positions before crossing the line for the first time. The home hero began his chase, showing good pace, but with 19 laps to go he had to do the work all over again. Having taken 15th from Jorge Lorenzo, he was in the groove but clipped the rear of Joan Mir going into Turn 4 and had to skillfully steer his YZR-M1 through the gravel trap. He rejoined the track in 22nd place.
The Doctor soon moved up a position again as a rival crashed out, but it wasn’t to last. Bad luck struck twice when he restarted his hunt. He suffered a crash in Turn 9 with 16 laps to go and was unable to continue his home GP.
Today’s unlucky 0-point finish pushed Rossi down to fifth position in the championship standings, with a 43-point gap to first. Viñales‘ sixth place result moves him up from tenth to eighth in the rankings, with a 75-point margin to the top. Yamaha is now fourth in the constructor standings, whilst Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP continues to hold third in the team classification.
The team will be back on the track in two weeks‘ time for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Maverick Vinales – 6th
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“Today I struggled a lot. I had no feeling with the bike during the race and the tyres were very slippery. I tried to push in the correct way and manage the tyres in the best way I could, but anyway it wasn’t enough. I don’t think we should be on the level of getting sixth places, we need to push more. I really don’t know what to expect for Montmeló. For sure, during the practices we can be there, but in the race it’s a different story. Our bike suffers a lot when we don’t have grip. So, we need to keep working to see if we can improve the feeling and take steps forward.”
Valentino Rossi – DNF
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“It was a very difficult weekend, because I was always very slow. We expected to be more competitive, so it was difficult to manage. We also made some mistakes in the practice: I made a mistake in FP3 and because of it I started very far towards the back of the grid. In the race, my pace wasn’t fantastic. I tried to overtake Mir, but he tried to defend his position, and unfortunately we touched. Luckily, we didn’t crash, but we went onto the gravel. After that I tried to push to recover and I lost the front and crashed, so it’s a bad end to a difficult weekend, especially since it’s in Mugello. But that’s the way it is. We will try to do better.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Naturally we are very disappointed. We knew this weekend was going to be really difficult, but we had higher hopes for our team‘s home GP than the results we got today. We have to give credit to Maverick though. His start was far from ideal, but he fought his way back to sixth, which was realistically the best could do, considering his race pace. Valentino had a nightmare of a day… It was going to be hard starting from 18th on the grid, but the incidents on track ended his race. All in all, it’s a GP to forget for him. We as a team, however, will be doing the opposite: we have to learn from this and find something for the next race in Catalunya in two weeks‘ time.”