Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales secured third place on the podium, his sixth podium and fourth bronze trophy of the season. Rossi was strong in the early stages of the race but couldn’t maintain his opening pace and finished in eighth place.
Viñales had a good start from second but had to hand over a position to Marc Marquez before Turn 1. The pace was relentless at the front of the field. The two riders ahead of the Factory Yamaha man consistently set times in the low 1’31s. The Spaniard was pushing on every lap but was unable to stay in touch with the leaders, due to a lack of traction.
After seven laps, the gap to second had grown to over two seconds, but the number-12 rider wasn’t giving up. With the over 1.5s margin to the rival in fourth growing to nearly 10s, it was a lonely ride for Viñales, but he kept pushing all the way through. He finished in third place, having decreased the gap to the front to 1.380s.
Rossi briefly fell back from ninth to tenth position in the first sector of lap 1, but he made the most of the Yamaha’s nimble character in the remaining three sectors and cut through the pack to seventh place. With 22 laps remaining, he also put in a move on Joan Mir. Though the Doctor’s foot slipped off the foot peg in the process, he saved the moment and still managed to defend his newly conquered sixth place.
Then with 16 laps to go, the Italian experienced a severe loss of rear grip, costing him two hard-earned positions. Unable to keep up his early pace, Rossi did everything he could to defend his eighth place for the remainder of the race. He successfully held on, crossing the line 19.162s from first.
Today’s third place sees Viñales move up to fourth in the championship standings, two places ahead of Rossi, with 18 points between them. Yamaha remains third in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also stay in third place in the team classification.
Yamaha extend their congratulations to Marc Marquez of the Repsol Honda Team for taking the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.
Maverick Viñales: “I’m happy, I’m feeling positive, and I accept the third place, but it’s not enough. We have to work harder and make another step. I noticed a difference between myself, Fabio, and Marc, especially in traction areas. But I was still able to hit good lap times and close the gap at the end of the race. This means we have some strong points, but we have to improve the weak points. When you have no traction and a full tank, it’s very difficult to get the lap times. As soon as the fuel went down a bit, I could carry a lot of corner speed and make the lap times again. I had a much better feeling in today’s Warm Up than I had during the race, so we need to understand this and improve for Japan.”
Valentino Rossi: “Unfortunately, I always have the same problem. After seven, eight, nine laps I started to suffer a lot with the rear tyre. It looks like we have a lack of grip on the rear, yet at the same time we stress the rear tyre more, so the rear tyre then loses performance. Unfortunately, I had to slow down. This race was very similar for me to the previous one, which means there’s a problem, because this is not our true potential. It’s a shame because this morning in the warm up we found more grip and I felt good, I was fast. My pace was not so bad, also with the used tyre it was good. But for the race, on the same tyre, but a new one, I had more problems. We need to improve and understand this, because we have four more races to go and we have to keep trying.”
Massimo Meregalli: “A podium is always positive, but we expected to be closer to the front. Maverick’s third place is for sure a good result, but considering our practice session performances we thought we could fight for the victory today. From Valentino’s side it was clear that it’s important to start more towards the first row of the grid if you want to challenge for front positions. That said, we have to analyse the data now after the race, because both riders suffered from a lack of grip, but in different ways. Again, Valentino experienced a severe drop of the rear tyre six laps into the race. Still, overall, it’s been a positive event for Yamaha. We were strong in all the sessions and there are two Yamahas on the podium. We will try harder in Japan in two weeks’ time at Yamaha’s home race.”