Blistering sunshine at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA), with blue sky as far as the eye could see, was an omen for a faultless race by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi. The pair had a rather lonely ride at the Grand Prix of The Americas, securing second and fourth place respectively.
Viñales started from first place on the grid and was in third place after the first corner. He needed a couple of laps to find a good rhythm before he started chasing the man in front of him, with Rossi in his wake.
With 14 laps to go, the Spaniard put in a block pass into turn 1 on Andrea Iannone, so he had a clear track ahead of him to hunt down the race leader. He consistently dropped laps in the 2’05s, but was not able to inch closer and decided to focus on managing the gap to the riders in pursuit. He did so brilliantly, finishing the race in second place, holding a 3.560s gap to the front over the finish line.
Rossi speeded to the first corner from P5 on the grid, but with all riders squeezing through the tight left-hander, he was pushed back a position. He soon reclaimed fifth place though, as he passed Johann Zarco in the first lap in turn 12. The next lap he also picked off Cal Crutchlow, so he was directly behind Viñales.
As his teammate passed Iannone at the start of lap 6, the Doctor pressed to do the same. He was looking threatening behind his compatriot, but couldn’t quite manoeuvre his bike into third position. As his tyres started to lose grip, Rossi lost touch with the fellow Italian. For the remainder of the race he clocked high 2’05s and low 2’06s laps in a lonely ride and finished taking the chequered flag in fourth place, 9.587s from first.
Today’s race results see Viñales climb up to third place in the championship standings, with 41 points. Rossi also gained a place, holding seventh with a 29-point total. Yamaha is now in second place in the Constructor Championship with 56 points, while Movistar Yamaha MotoGP moved up to first position in the Team Championship, having scored 70 points.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in two weeks’ time, when the MotoGP paddock will arrive in Jerez, Spain, for the Gran Premio de España.
Position: 2nd – Championship: 4th – Points: 41
“Starting from the front row made it much easier, and I could breathe more calmly. I was able to control the first three or four riders quite well. I’m happy overall, because the team focused on the weekend in a different way, and that was so good. I think we know how to go fast with this Yamaha and today we proved it. Our bike seems to be stronger than it was here last year, I felt good during the race. Even though it was difficult to challenge Marc, and even with the difficulties we had, we still came in second. I didn’t want to make the same mistake as I made in last year’s race, so I gave up on trying to chase Marc and controlled the gap to Andrea even more. I feel positive, but we have to keep pushing. Every day I’m feeling better on the bike and we’re going to go up and up. The feeling with the bike has changed a lot. I feel good on the bike right now and we’ve got to keep it like that. I can’t wait for the race in Jerez. Now we’ll have four or five races where I like the tracks a lot, I really enjoy riding there. We’re going to go for the win, I know we are not far away, and we’re going to push for it.”
Position: 4th – Championship: 7th – Points: 29
“It was a good weekend because I was already in the top-5, but in the race I expected to be a bit more competitive, to try and fight for the podium. I knew that Marquez and Maverick were a bit stronger. I hoped I was fast enough for a fight for the podium with Iannone, but Andrea was faster than I was. I wasn’t able to arrive, to attack. I suffered a little bit in the hot conditions, because the front gave me more problems than in the practice. We have to work. Now we have ten days. The next round will be in Europe, where the situation will be different.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Second and fourth are good results for our team after a difficult last GP. The weekend in Austin is never very easy for us, but after yesterday’s qualifying we were quite confident that we could give a good performance. Maverick and Valentino were cutting through the field together. Maverick’s race pace was fast, he rode consistent 2’05s laps, collected some very important points for the championship, and closed in considerably on the top of the championship standings. Valentino was also competitive at the start of the race and fought for a top result. He suffered a bit with his front tyre due to the heat, but this fourth place is still a good way to come back. Overall, we’re satisfied because we made another step. We improved the bike and are looking to confirm the findings we made here this weekend at the next round back in Europe.”