Valiant 5th and 12th for Movistar Yamaha in the Final Act of MotoGP in Valencia
MotoGP fans couldn't have asked for a more dramatic Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana today and the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders were there to pick up the pieces. Valentino Rossi rode a very consistent race to secure fifth position. After a small crash in the morning warm up, Maverick Viñales needed some time to make strides. He took 12th place at the finish line.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders could pick up on the excitement in the air as the final race was about to get underway. Rossi had a strong start from seventh, holding his position on the first lap. He then got into a battle with Jack Miller and dropped back to eighth, but the nine-time World Championship cunningly bided his time before taking back seventh position on lap 7.
It looked to be a relatively calm race for the Doctor, but it was just the silence before the storm. With 18 laps to go, he overtook Andrea Iannone, but later had to let Alex Rins pass, just before drama struck. Multiple crashes and run-offs saw the order at the front reshuffled. Yet Rossi remained cool and benefitted from the chaos, settling into fifth place. Unable to make a dent in the gap to the rider in front of him, he held that same position crossing the finish line, 13.817s from the front.
Viñales had a good feeling in the morning, but struggled to complete the testing of some final set-up changes for his YZR-M1 in the warm up session, as he lost some time due to a small crash. In the race he was able to make a solid start from P13, climbing up a place in the first lap, but then had to put a hold on his charge.
The home hero briefly dropped to 15th, but kept fighting. He overtook Danilo Petrucci with 15 laps to go, boosting his confidence. Four laps later he clocked two personal best times in a row, dropping into the low 1'32s. He soon overtook Bradley Smith and found himself moving up to tenth in the rankings, as various rivals crashed out of the race. He was keen on maintaining his position, but in the end took the chequered flag in 12th place, 35.012s from the front.
Today's results see Rossi finish the championship in fifth place with 208 points, two places behind Viñales. The young Spaniard earned 230 points on his first year aboard the YZR-M1, ending the season 68 points behind the leader. Yamaha reclaimed second place in the Constructor rankings, with a 36-point margin to the top. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team are also second in the Team classification, 70 points from first.
The team may have wrapped up the 2017 season, but they will be back in action at the Ricardo Tormo circuit on Tuesday November 14th, for the two-day Valencia MotoGP Official Test.
Position: 5th - Championship: 5th - Points: 208
"We wanted to do better, for sure, but it was the kind of race I was expecting. I knew we had to suffer because my pace during the weekend wasn't fantastic. We didn't have enough grip, so we struggled. Now we think the pre-season tests will be very important, because we have to reduce the gap, improve the setting and try to arrive ready for next season."
Position: 12th - Championship: 3rd - Points: 230
"In the warm up I felt good, but maybe I pushed too much too early. I was feeling really good and that is really important. We're going to try to achieve that again in the test. The race was different, I had some strange feelings. I needed to slow down a lot. Anyway, I'm happy that in the warm up we found a way. We know we can improve during the test and we're trying. We tried different set-ups and we're going to try and adjust."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"It was a very challenging race day for us, here in Valencia, but I'm sure it was still exciting for the MotoGP fans. Valentino made the most of a difficult weekend and rode a mistake-free race today. Thanks to his efforts and the crashes and run-offs, he secured fifth place. It's a shame that he misses out on fourth place in the championship by just two points. Maverick's race today was slightly compromised by the incident in the warm up session this morning, which left him with very little time to prepare a set-up for the afternoon. However, his feeling was actually really good in the warm up. It's a pity he had a completely different experience during the race. Today's final results are not so exciting, but the team did everything they could to push through a difficult weekend again, despite the challenges we faced, and this allowed us to secure second place in the Team and Constructor Championship and Maverick secured third place in his first year with Yamaha. However, we would have liked to end the season differently. We did everything we could, but we haven't been able to achieve what we wanted. The 2018 season already starts on Tuesday. This test will be important to evaluate some new items, but most important is leaving the circuit with a clear idea of the direction we have to take for next year's bike."
Remarkable Zarco Powers to 2nd in Memorable Season Finale - Inspired Performance by Van der Mark
Johann Zarco stole the limelight in Valencia today after narrowly missing out on his first MotoGP victory. The French star undertook a rocket start and lead for almost the entire race as he rode a formidable pace. After an intense duel with Dani Pedrosa right until the chequered flag, Zarco surged across the finish line to seal the third podium in his rookie season in what was a truly exceptional end to the 2017 campaign.
Meanwhile, Michael van der Mark impressed once again in his second MotoGP race. The young Dutch rider started the GP from the ninth row of the grid and powered onwards before notably fighting his way up to 16th. A small error saw him drop back but he remained focused to eventually finish the sprint in 17th. Monster Yamaha Tech3would like to thank Michael for his efforts.
Position: 2nd - Championship: 6th - Points: 174
"I am so happy about today because I was competitive enough to fight for the victory and, like I said yesterday, I knew I can do this because I have all of the elements that I need to go for the win. When I felt Marquez, who was really strong, I had things under control but I didn't want to let him take the advantage and run away. He had to control it too, yet, I was thinking about the victory and possibly overtaking again and then I passed him. This is why I am pretty happy and finishing 1st or 2nd doesn't change anything about the race quality that I did. I can enjoy this moment and it must be pleasing for Dani also. He overtook me in a good way on the last lap, at the first corner and he then waited a bit and I couldn't enter the corner effectively. I lost too much distance and when I tried to catch him again, I almost crashed. Nevertheless, this second place finish is the best way to finish my season."
Michael van der Mark
Position: 17th - Championship: Not classified
"It has been a challenging weekend but I really enjoyed the race today. I had a very strong start and moved up a couple of places, whilst I had some nice battles on the track. This Grand Prix was great fun and I want to thank Hervé for the opportunity. It was always a dream to ride a MotoGP bike and to do two races with this amazing team was special for me. If he asks me again, then I would be delighted to ride with the team. We just need to work more with the setup of the bike for my style but overall, I have enjoyed this weekend so much."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"It was an amazing final for the MotoGP World Championship. We knew that there would be a lot of tactics and strategies between Dovi and Marquez. Clearly, Johann realised this, took the lead and then tried to break away, because he was willing to take more risks than the others, who had a lot to lose. He rode incredibly in the opening laps and remained at the front until almost one lap to go. Unfortunately, Dani was really strong in the last ten laps and he made his move at the correct corner, which was turn 1 on the final lap and that was it, despite Johann's efforts. Of course, a win is something magical and what everyone was hoping for, yet, this experience will certainly help him to be stronger. The last four races have been unbelievable with four consecutive front row starts and a second successive podium. In addition, I think we gave some valuable information to Factory Yamaha who tried our bike today. They could see that maybe it was better in some departments but not overall. Anyway, our rider showed that it doesn't matter what people are saying because he is the one making the difference and getting the results. I'd like to congratulate him for the whole season, which has been like a dream and say thanks for giving us the rookie of the year and top satellite titles with 6th in the championship. Furthermore, he has helped us to complete the campaign as the top Independent team. Another fantastic achievement is that this year, Johann has led the second highest number of laps, with 64, after Marquez. On the other side of the pit box, Michael made a lot of progress compared to Sepang and I'm sure that the dry weather helped him. He fought with experienced MotoGP riders and did a great job so we are happy with how things progressed and we know that it was not easy, but I would like to thank him for replacing Jonas. He is smart and he deserves more opportunities so I will try to do my best to give him some chances if it is possible to do so, in collaboration with Yamaha. Additionally, I really hope that Jonas watched this race and it will push him to work hard to recover. We need him and I hope that we can see number 94 on the other side of the garage soon. Thanks to the whole team for their hard work, it was an unbelievable season. Finally, I would like to say farewell to Wil Moody who has been a fantastic asset to the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. I want to wish him good luck with his new adventure and say thanks for all of his work."