Movistar Yamaha Persistence Pays Off with Double Podium on Phillip Island
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales were front-runners in a fierce Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Phillip Island circuit. With seven riders fighting aggressively for a place on the podium, the teammates had to give their all to put their YZR-M1s inside the top-3. They did just that and secured second and third place respectively and delivered the team its fourth double podium of the season.
Rossi had a strong start from seventh on the grid and soon found himself in fifth position after the first few corners. He continued to push hard on lap 1, crossing the line in fourth place, right behind his teammate. An early battle with Johann Zarco saw him move back to fifth, but he was soon riding in third place, with 25 laps to go, when Marc Marquez and Zarco went wide. Passing Viñales, the Doctor looked to be on a roll when he overtook Jack Miller for the lead two laps later, but chaos was about to ensue.
Zarco and Marquez made a comeback as Rossi went wide in turn 4, with 18 laps remaining, and Miller did the same shortly after. The Italian didn't hesitate to fight his way back to the lead again, but he was unable to break away as the battle at the front continued.
The Doctor was riding in second place when, with eight laps to go, a touch of Marquez' front wheel pushed him back to fourth. Yet, a manic four-lap dash at the end of the race saw the nine-time World Champion retaliate. He set consistent personal best times in sectors one and two to start the last lap in second place. With a two-second gap to Marquez, he focussed on holding off Zarco and Viñales and took the chequered flag in second position, 1.799s from first. This result earned Rossi his 17th podium finish at the Phillip Island track.
Viñales had a good start and immediately looked threatening behind frontmen Miller and Marquez. After two laps his tyres were warm and he was ready to make a move. As he overtook Marquez, he took Rossi with him. His teammate passed him with 23 laps remaining as they continued their chase after the leader, but the Spaniard wasn't to be shaken off easily.
When Rossi overtook Miller, Viñales launched himself past both. He was leading the race, but it wasn't to last in today's frantic MotoGP battle. He soon had to deal with Marquez, Zarco and Miller again and the Spaniard found himself in fifth place, with 15 laps to go, behind his teammate.
Seeing Rossi carve through the field, Viñales cautiously picked up places, but it remained a push-and-pull fight at the front. He had his head down, but soon had to start all over again as fighting with Zarco and Andrea Iannone pushed him wide and made him fall back to seventh place. He climbed back up the rankings, picking off Miller and Cal Crutchlow with five laps to go, and used his saved-up tyre life to perfection in the last laps to breeze past Iannone and overtake Zarco over the line for third place, pipping him by 0.016s, to take third place, 1.826s from first.
Today's race results see Viñales hold third place in the championship with a 50-point gap to the leader, while Rossi regained fourth place in the standings, 81 points from the front. Yamaha moved up to second place in the Constructor classification, 34 points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP are in second place in the Team title challenge, with 36 points to the top of the rankings.
The team will soon head north again to take part in next week's Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.
Position: 2nd - Championship: 4th - Points: 188
"I enjoyed the race very much. This track is unbelievable and it was a great race! All the riders in front were very aggressive, so you need to be more 'stupid', more aggressive, than they are. It was a great battle with Zarco, Iannone, Marquez and Viñales. I wanted to try the maximum to be on the podium. In the end I'm in second place and I'm very happy. I want to say thanks to all my team, they always work very hard, and thanks to all of Yamaha."
Position: 3rd - Championship: 3rd - Points: 219
"I had planned on attacking with five laps to go. On the previous lap, I had already overtaken Johann and tried to overtake Valentino at the last part of the straight, but I went wide. I had a moment with Johann on the outside and then went towards Andrea. I lost my race there, but in the end I recovered really well. I started to overtake the other riders fast and, honestly, I was quite far back from where I needed to be in the last corner, but the bike accelerated really well and I even thought I could pass Valentino. In the end he was a bit too far ahead, but I'm still really happy. The team was working really well and especially this morning in the rain I felt great and that's a good starting point for Malaysia. There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend, especially on the soft tyre. The championship challenge is gone, this is not good news, but we already knew all season it was going to be difficult, especially during the second part. We have to try to be strong, as always, and try to be on the podium again in Malaysia. I want to recover some points to Andrea, which is important. We're going to try to make the bike work and try to have one of our strongest weekends."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"It was a fantastic race! The adrenaline levels were very high throughout all the 27 laps. Since Valentino and Maverick decided to use two different tyre options, I wasn't able to relax, as I was unsure which was the right one, but in the end both choices seemed to work out well as both riders finished on the rostrum. This double podium result is very important for the team, especially after the challenging race in Motegi, and gives us a boost for Malaysia. This morning we made a good step in the wet and this improvement is another positive point that we take away from this Grand Prix. I want to thank the riders, team members and engineers for their hard work. We aim to continue this momentum in Malaysia as we still fight for the Team and Constructor titles."
Phenomenal Zarco Finishes Spectacular Australian GP in 4th - Parkes Perseveres to Complete Home GP
Johann Zarco narrowly missed out on a podium finish after battling at the front of the field for the entire Australian Grand Prix. The French star kicked off the race from 3rdand after slipping back, he relentlessly worked his way through the pack before lunging into the lead on the 9th lap. He consistently traded places at the front and eventually just missed out on the podium by 0.016. Nevertheless, his efforts saw him finish 4th and as the Top Independent rider, which sealed the Rookie of the Year title in the MotoGP class.
Meanwhile, Broc Parkes, who stood in for the recovering Jonas Folger, delivered a determined performance in his race debut aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The Australian fought persistently as he diced with the experienced MotoGP riders, before eventually completing the GP in 22nd. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team would like to thank Broc for his efforts and professionalism at the Australian Grand Prix.
Position: 4th - Championship: 6th - Points: 138
"It was an amazing race today in Australia and I am so happy that I could fight for the victory but Marquez broke away at the end, yet I still managed to lead the Grand Prix. After the tricky start, where I had to close the throttle to avoid touching someone, I lost a lot of positions. However, I was strong and I then overtook many riders and it was an amazing feeling. I had some moments on the track that I thought I would never live in my life so it was very good to take this experience. I could also analyse my rivals and see how they were so fast. On the last lap, I was running in 3rd and trying to get 2nd, and I attempted to overtake Rossi at the final corner on the acceleration. I changed my line to pass him and instead of 2nd, I finished 4th. It's a big shame to miss out on the podium but I need to enjoy what I achieved today."
Position: 22nd - Championship: Not classified
"I just did not have the rear grip from the start. Maybe it was because I didn't have a lot of track time this weekend so I struggled a little bit. In the race, I thought I could stay with the Ducati's and Lowes but unfortunately, I dropped back from them. However, it was hard to come back and I rode on my own for a while. I wanted to do better but I'm happy to have completed my home Grand Prix and to have ridden here in front of everyone. Thank you to Hervé and the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for giving me this opportunity."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"Phillip Island always produces some unbelievable racing but I think that this one is going to remain as maybe one of the best in MotoGP history. We feared the rain, however, fortunately, it did not happen which allowed the crowd and the viewers to enjoy an incredible show. We were right in the mix at the front and the start was ok but Johann touched Miller so he had to let a lot of people pass to avoid crashing. After that, he showed incredible speed and overtook every other rider to take the lead. Once he was there, he tried to open a gap, yet, it was so difficult because Phillip Island is a slipstream track. We know this as we won the 250cc World Championship with Olivier Jacque against Shinya Nakano in 2000 and the slipstream was highly instrumental. We could see that Johann was losing out on the straight and especially if someone was right behind him. Up until the last lap, he was in a position to fight for 2nd as Marquez broke away in first. Yet, I think he wanted it a bit too much so he tried to pass Valentino on the inside. However, he lost some speed when entering the straight and Maverick, who was behind, took the slipstream past him and we lost the podium by almost nothing. We are in Parc Fermé as the Top Independent rider but we have shown that we can fight at the top. The team did a great job and the suspension, tyres and rider were all perfect, and even if our man was aggressive, it wasn't too much. Plus, we consolidated 6th position in the championship, which is important. Nevertheless, I am happy but there is a slightly bitter taste in my mouth because a podium was certainly possible. On the other side, I have to thank Broc Parkes a lot as it was not an easy weekend for him due to the fact that he had to learn the YZR-M1 as well as the Phillip Island circuit on the 2017 Michelin tyres. In addition, the track conditions for the entire weekend were difficult but he did well and made almost no mistakes. We knew the race was going to be tough and sure, he needs more track time to be closer to the guys, yet, he was impressive in all departments. I would like to thank him a lot for his professional approach. We never know what will happen in the future, but we met a top rider and a super nice man. So many thanks again to him for what he did for Monster Yamaha Tech3."