Fresh from the Brno Test, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi heads to the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg circuit for this weekend’s eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. Maverick Viñales’ crash in the Czech Republic last Sunday prevented him from attending the test, but he is happy he can join team activities this weekend for round 11 of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.
Rossi arrives in Austria holding second place in the championship standings. He was able to try some new setting solutions and a new fairing during the Brno test just two days ago and is eager to show great speed in Austria, though the nature of the Red Bull Ring traditionally doesn’t play into Yamaha’s strengths.
The Doctor secured his first ever podium at the Spielberg track with a third place in the 125cc class in 1996 and followed it up with a second place in the same class in 1997. The Italian is determined to add an Austrian MotoGP rostrum to his résumé this time round, as well as decrease the current 49-point gap to first place in the championship rankings.
In the last two years, Viñales took solid sixth places in Austria, but this year nothing but a podium result will do, as he aims to make up for last week’s DNC.
The Spaniard was feeling sore on the Monday after the crash and decided to skip the Brno test in order to be fully recovered at the start of this weekend’s GP, though the decision left him with some regret. The youngster had planned on working on acceleration, which is a vital point at the Austrian circuit. However, feeling close to 100% fit again, he is ready to reclaim third position in the rider standings by bridging the 4-point gap.
In 2016 the Spielberg circuit hosted its first MotoGP Grand Prix after nineteen years. The circuit was constructed in 1969 and was rebuilt in 1996 to the track’s current lay-out. The circuit stands out, as it has only ten corners in total (three left and seven right). Other features include a 626m longest straight and an 18-metre-high landmark “Bull of Spielberg” in the track’s centre. The circuit’s design puts the emphasis on top speed, acceleration and braking stability, allowing the riders plenty of opportunity to fully open the throttle.
Championship: 2nd – Points: 132
“August is a very intense month. After the race and the test in Brno we will immediately get back on track in Austria. This will allow us to continue the work we are doing to improve the bike. The Austrian circuit has never been very positive or a favourite for us and last year we suffered. But this year’s bike has improved and we will try to have a good weekend and fight for the podium. We will do our best.”
Championship: 4th – Ponts: 109
“The first thing I want to say is that I’m fine after the crash in Brno. It was a weekend to forget, so I can’t wait to arrive in Austria. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for me to test in Brno, because I was a little sore from the crash, and we decided I should rest in order to be 100% ready for the next round. I had planned to try some things in Brno on Monday, like working on the acceleration, that will be very important at the Red Bull Ring where the top speed is crucial considering the track lay-out. However, testing wasn’t possible for me. As I’ve been saying during the last GPs, we know that we have to continue scoring points to be at least in the top-3 in the championship standings and to have the option to win this year’s World Title. Last year in Austria the race was not good for us, we finished sixth and seventh, so I sincerely hope that this year we can bring home a better result and we will work hard for that.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“After the race and test in Brno, we headed straight to Austria for the only European back-to-back race of the year. We’re pleased to be reunited with Maverick, who wasn’t able to take part in the Brno test. Luckily, he is feeling better now, so the entire team will be able to give it 100% again as one united front, as always. Vale and the team have put in hard work in the Czech Republic race and test and we aim to use the new data to our advantage at the Red Bull Ring. Spielberg is a very nice event, so the team is looking forward to it. The track’s lay-out doesn’t match our bike’s main strengths, but we’re going to put up a fight.”