Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi held firm in today‘s hot Gran Premio de España. A good start by Viñales and great pace in the final stages were key to him taking a well-deserved third place, which moves him up six places in the championship standings. Starting from the fifth row, Rossi had a tough race ahead of him, but he managed the busy mid-pack activity well, riding to sixth place for some crucial championship points.
Viñales had a strong start from P5, moving up to fourth through the first corner. He was pushing a 100 per cent right from the start to tack on to the back of the leading group of three riders, with Alex Rins on his tail. With 15 laps to go, the two Petronas Yamaha SRT riders in front of him started to battle each other. The Factory Yamaha rider seized the opportunity to close the gap, but then got involved in a fight himself for fourth place with Álex Rins.
Three laps later he gained a position as Fabio Quartararo had a technical issue. Smelling a podium place once more, Viñales overtook Franco Morbidelli for third with 10 laps to go. With the front two riders too far ahead to bridge the gap, he spent the remainder of the race increasing the gap over the riders behind him.
The Yamaha rider came under pressure from Andrea Dovizioso in the latter stages of the race but defended his position masterfully. He set various personal best sectors and ended on a high setting his best race lap, a 1‘38.157s. He finished the race in third place, 2.443s from first.
Rossi also gritted his teeth until the very end of the race. Starting from P13 is never easy, but the veteran managed his way through the busy mid-pack, immediately gaining two positions at the start and one more soon after, to enter the top-10.
After Quartararo suffered a mechanical issue, the Italian spent most of the race in ninth place, until the last eight laps. Having saved his hard-hard tyre combination, he was then ready to cut through the field. Visibly in his element, he picked up three places in two laps.
Having arrived in sixth place with five laps to go, he had an over 2s-gap to bridge. The Doctor tried his utmost but was unable to inch closer. He crossed the line in sixth place, 7.547s from the top, earning himself ten important championship points.
Today’s results see Rossi now in fourth position in the championship standings with a 9-point gap to first. Viñales made a big step, moving up from 12th to 6th place, with a 40-point margin to the top. Yamaha is fourth in the constructor standings, whilst Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is second in the team classification.
The team will be back in action at the Jerez track tomorrow for the official one-day IRTA test, in preparation for the Grand Prix de France, held at the Le Mans circuit, in two weeks’ time.
Position: 3rd – Time: + 2.443
“To be on the podium feels like a victory to me. I saw that Dovi and Petrucci were behind me, together, so I thought “Woah, Dovi is going to push, so it‘s going to be difficult”, so I just tried to do my best laps and ride the best sectors I could. Honestly, it was difficult because I had just a little bit of tyre left at the end. I don‘t know if I could have done more laps like that last lap, but I‘m happy because the bike was good at the end. It was very important to demonstrate that we could be there. We recovered a lot of confidence, especially with the front tyre. We‘ve done something different on the bike, that gives me more consistency at the start so I can be much more precise. I‘m really happy because we didn‘t lose any positions at the start, we even gained one, and then another during the race. We‘ve been working really good during the whole weekend. After FP3 we were out of Q2, which means that, since then, we‘ve improved the bike quite a lot. Today was a good test to see where we are. It‘s important that we weren‘t so far from the front in the end. The most important thing is to be on the podium consistently. If we give our best, I think I can arrive at the top, but honestly there‘s no time to relax. Especially tomorrow, we need to do a good test. It‘s very important tomorrow to get everything done and go to Le Mans with a good mindset.”
Position: 6th – Time: + 7.547
“We made the choice of the tyre at the very last moment. I wanted to race with the medium, but later the temperature rose a lot and we thought “Medium or hard? Medium or hard? Medium or hard?”. In the end we put in the hard, and I think this is the big thing we could have changed. I’m very curious to try the race with the medium, because at the end Maverick was good. I did a good start, but at the beginning I didn’t have enough pace to overtake, but on the second half of the race I was good. I was stronger and my pace wasn’t too bad, good enough to overtake, go, and take some points, which are good for the championship. I think that if I had started more towards the front I could have stayed with the front group, around where Maverick was. The pace of today’s race was very, very fast. I was like 25 seconds faster than my race last year, the gap to first position is less, I felt more comfortable on the bike, and especially on the last lap I was fast. Now we have to concentrate on the next few races.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Considering where we were at after FP3, we welcome today‘s results with open arms. A lot of work has been done this weekend. We found a good set-up for Maverick in FP4. He had a really good start and positioned himself at the back of the front group, that was a key factor for today‘s podium. Also, he kept a really good pace the entire race and fended off Dovizioso, setting a 1‘38.1s on the last lap. We‘re very pleased with this third place, because it‘s a great confidence booster after a couple of tough races for him. Valentino‘s race had been compromised by the Q1 session and, at a track like this, starting from the fifth row is a huge set-back. The beginning of his race wasn‘t as good as usual, and he wasn‘t feeling comfortable with the hard front tyre for most of the race. Still, there are some positives to take away from this round. We arrived here with some doubts, because the last two years we have struggled here, so today‘s third place is a testimony to the hard work we have done and improvements we have made over the winter. Tomorrow we have a few things that we would like to try, especially concerning the electronics settings. If we find positive results, then we will use this new solution in Le Mans.”