Movistar Yamaha Race to Hard-fought Fourth and Heroic Fifth Place in Aragon

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales was on the move today at the final stages of the sunny Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. The Spaniard gradually increased his pace to take fourth place in the last part of the race. Teammate Valentino Rossi, opted for the opposite strategy. The Italian had a superb ride as he threatened to take the lead in the early race laps, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury, before settling into fifth place, which he held over the line.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales was on the move today at the final stages of the sunny Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. The Spaniard gradually increased his pace to take fourth place in the last part of the race. Teammate Valentino Rossi, opted for the opposite strategy. The Italian had a superb ride as he threatened to take the lead in the early race laps, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury, before settling into fifth place, which he held over the line.

Viñales had a less than perfect start on the short drive-up to the first corner, but he recovered quickly, slotting into second place. However, he had to let Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez pass him on the first couple of laps of the race as he was struggling to find grip.

The third lap of the race was a turning point for the Spaniard; he got into a good rhythm and steadily started to catch up with the men in front of him. On the final six laps, when he began to press forward, he first took fifth place from Dovizioso and then proceeded to take on his teammate.

The youngster was insistent, but Rossi wasn’t going to hand over fourth place easily. A close fight between the two Factory Yamahas had the fans on the edge of their seats. With three laps to go, Viñales successfully passed the nine-time World Champion, but the gap to the top-3 was too large for him to close in the final laps. He crossed the finish line in fourth place, 5.256s from first.

Rossi had the crowds rooting for him during his first race since his enduro accident. Though he had a difficult launch from his starting position, he held on to his third place going into turn 1. Seeing Jorge Lorenzo trying to take off at the front on the first lap, the Doctor wasn’t about to waste any time and responded by passing his teammate a couple of corners later. He set a provisional fastest lap on lap 2 of 1’49.334s as he chased down his rival, and soon closed the gap.

Despite riding with a leg injury, Rossi was pushing to the fullest. The top-4 riders bunched up as the Italian started to pressure Lorenzo, but he was unable to make a move whilst fending off Marquez and Dovizioso.

With 11 laps to go, fatigue had the number 46 rider slow down a couple of tenths, allowing Marquez and Dani Pedrosa through, but he still had some fighting spirit left. He had the fans hold their breath as he battled hard with his teammate for fourth position, but ultimately took the chequered flag in fifth place, 5.882s from the front.

Today’s results see Viñales remain in third place in the championship with 196 points, 28 from the top of the standings. Despite his brave ride, Rossi dropped one position to fifth in the rankings, with 168 points. In the Constructor Championship, Yamaha is in second place with a 17-point margin to first, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team must breach a 30-point margin to jump up from second to first in the Team Championship.

The Yamaha Factory Racing Team will travel to Asia next, to take part in the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi track in three weeks’ time, which will be the manufacturer’s home race.

Maverick Viñales

Position: 4th – Championship: 3rd – Points: 183

“The hard tyre was working really badly for us, especially on the first laps, but then it was working quite well at the end. Not so much in terms of grip, but it was improving lap by lap, but anyway it wasn’t enough. Folger used the medium tyre and said he had no grip, so it was really difficult to understand which tyre we could use. For other races it was quite clear, because we were able to do many laps on the tyres so we knew which way to go, but here it was very difficult. I tried to use the same tyre as the opponents. Normally Valentino has a good feeling with the tyres and pushes on the hard option. For the next races we will have to work even harder on the Friday. It’s important to keep pushing and working and keep our motivation high. We have to work even harder, though it’s difficult, and we’ll go to Japan to improve and we’ll try to be stronger.”

Valentino Rossi

Position: 5th – Championship: 4th – Points: 157

“I’m quite proud, because a week ago I didn’t know if I would be able to race. Achieving a start from the first row yesterday was already great, I was very happy. I knew I had to suffer in the second half of the race. I had some pain and we also suffered from the degradation of the tyre. The work continues after this race. The calendar works out well for me, I have two full weeks to train and improve my leg’s condition. After this we have Motegi, which is going to be very important, but we also have three races in a row. This will be very difficult for my leg, so I want to try to arrive in Motegi – maybe not at 100% – but quite fit.”

Massimo Meregalli

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director

“The tyre choice played a big role in the outcome of today’s race. We only had limited time to try the different specs on the dry this weekend, so this made the decision quite difficult. Both riders decided to use the hard rear tyre option for durability reasons. Though they managed the tyre life by trying to ride as smoothly as possible, in the end the tyres still dropped. Furthermore, Maverick had difficulties getting heat into the tyre at the beginning. It was unfortunate that, by the time the tyre started working better, the gap had become too big for him to close, but I think we all got a thrill from his fight with Valentino. It is fantastic to see Vale already battling at the front in the race, just 24 days after his accident. He did a truly amazing job today and has consistently exceeded our expectations throughout the weekend. We look forward to seeing him race again in Motegi, when he has had time to further recover from his leg injury.”

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