Fifth Place for Vinales after Drama-Filled Argentina Grand Prix
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales showed a strong race pace today at the Gran Premio de la República Argentina and took fifth place in the final results. Valentino Rossi was shadowing his teammate for most of the race but saw his crucial championship points go up in smoke when he crashed, due to an incident involving Marc Marquez. The Italian was able to re-join the action and finished in 19th place.
The tension was palpable during the starting procedure. Spots of rain fell on the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit just 15 minutes before the start of the race, causing chaos on the grid. Though the race was declared wet, a dry line formed rapidly, which resulted in all riders but pole man Jack Miller heading back to pit lane to switch to slicks, leading to a delayed start due to safety conditions.
At 15:15 local track time (GMT-3), the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders headed back out for a quick re-start procedure. Apart from pole-sitter Miller, who was already on slicks during the first starting procedure, the entire rider field was moved to the back of the grid by Race Direction (maintaining the qualifying order), leaving a four-row gap. Despite new spots of rain the teammates opted to begin the race, which was shortened from 25 to 24 laps, on slick tyres.
Once the field got underway, Viñales slotted into 12th place in the first corner. He needed some time to get a feel for the conditions and he dropped back a place, but soon muscled his way through the pack, taking teammate Rossi with him. With 10 laps to go, he overtook Andrea Dovizioso for fifth place and then focused on decreasing an over 13s-gap to the front group.
With a clear track in front of him, the Spaniard put his head down. He was mainly riding in the high 1'40s, but was unable to get closer. The 23-year-old had to let Marc Marquez pass in the last sector of the final lap and crossed the line in sixth place, 14.941s from first. However, due to Race Direction giving Marquez a 30s-penalty after the chequered flag for his race incident with Rossi, Viñales regained fifth position.
Rossi was quick to work his way up to eighth in the rankings. He aimed to close a 2s-gap to the group of riders in front of him, but got into a scrap with Andrea Iannone and had to delay his charge.
The Doctor was soon joined by Viñales, who he followed past Iannone and Hafizh Syahrin to eighth place. Together the teammates rode their bikes to the front of the second group and attempted to reel in the leading pack of four. Rossi was in sixth place, trying to stick to the rear of the number-25 YZR-M1, but the nine-time World Champion's efforts were disrupted when Marquez collided with him in turn 13 on lap 20, causing the Italian to go wide and crash on the slippery wet grass. Rossi was able to re-join the race, but came no further than a 19th place finish, 52.082s from the front.
Today's race results see Viñales climb up to fourth place in the championship standings, with 21 points. Rossi dropped back to eighth place, holding a 16-point total. Yamaha remains in third place in the Constructor Championship with 36 points, while Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is now in joint second position in the Team Championship, together with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team, having scored 37 points each.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in two weeks' time at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, in the United States.
Position: 5th - Championship: 4th - Points: 21
"I think today's race was very important to understand many things. I think that for sure now we can only further improve. I saw many things we can improve in the rain and also in the dry, so I'm feeling quite happy and positive about that. I'm not happy about the result, I wanted to try to win. At the end of the race I had the pace to be at the front, but anyway, I saw many things that will be useful and for sure we are going to improve a lot. Especially in the rain we have to focus in another direction. Now we're on the safe side with the tyres, we have to try and be more aggressive."
Position: 19th - Championship: 8th - Points: 16
"I'm OK, but this is a very bad situation. If you take what happened this weekend as an example, one incident can happen to anybody, you can make a mistake in braking, you can touch the other guy. It can happen, it's racing. But from Friday morning on, Marquez did this to Viñales, to Dovizioso, to me, and on Saturday morning, and today he went straight through four riders. If you start to race like this, you raise the level to a very dangerous point. If all the riders race like this, this will become a very dangerous sport and it will finish in a bad way. It's a very dangerous situation and I hope that what I said to Race Director Mike Webb makes them take more responsibility, they have to do something. I'm scared on the track when I'm with Marquez. I was scared today when I saw his name on the board. I'm not Race Direction - they will decide - but like this he is destroying our sport, because when you do 300 km an hour on the track, you have to have respect for your rivals."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"It was a dramatic day, in the sense that a lot of things happened that were beyond the team's and our riders' control, but they played a crucial role in the outcome of today's race. The re-organised starting grid was something never seen in Grand Prix racing before. Despite the confusion and the chaos of the re-start, Maverick and Valentino both kept their focus. Valentino was riding in sixth place, behind Maverick when his race was compromised by Marquez. Whilst we respect Race Direction's decision to impose a 30s-penalty on Marquez, we feel his dangerous riding style should be further discouraged for safety reasons and for the sake of the sport. Maverick moved back up to fifth place in the race results, but a lot of damage has been done, considering that Valentino misses out on quite a chunk of championship points. It's a disappointing end to the race weekend for him, but the entire team will pull together to make up for today's loss at the next GP in Austin, where we hope to see fair racing only."
Supreme Zarco Snatches First Podium in 2018 – Syahrin Powers to Remarkable Ninth in Argentina
Both Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders delivered an incredible performance on race day at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit, taking home phenomenal results.
Johann Zarco came off the line well to fight inside the leading group from the beginning in one of the most exciting races ever. The French star got the very best out of himself to storm to second position, earning the honors of a first podium in 2018 as the top Yamaha rider.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage Hafizh Syahrin performed in an outstanding way. The MotoGP rookie made up eight places in just his first lap and was threaded his way through the field of the much more experienced competitors to eventually see the chequered flag as the best rookie in ninth.
Position: 2nd – Championship: 3rd – Points: 28
"It was a pretty difficult race, overall when we had to choose and then the delayed start was quite good for all the riders. Just Jack (Miller) chose the slick from the beginning. From the start there were not so many options for the best line, but behind Dani (Pedrosa) I felt I was stuck, so finally I did the maneuver, tried to overtake him. Because of the conditions I went a little bit wide, but that was the way to pass him. I'm sorry that he crashed there. Overall it was a very difficult race today, I was almost crashing. I did my maximum from the start to the end. In fighting with Cal (Crutchlow), I didn't want to do a mistake, so in the end, he deserved this win today. I'm really happy, that I was able to catch this second place!"
Position: 9th – Championship: 13th – Points: 9
"I'm so happy about the result today! I pushed really hard all the weekend, the team did a very good job. I felt truly strong this weekend, we only struggled in qualifying, because I didn't find good grip to stop the bike in a decent way. For the race I was fully motivated, I pushed and when I saw that I was in P15 after the first lap, I was surprised. My pace was really strong and I was able to follow the Factory Yamaha quite easily, but it was difficult to pass the Ducati, because it's very fast on the straight. I tried it many times, but it was not possible. In the end P9 is a really amazing result for me, I have a fantastic feeling with the team and want to pass my congratulations to Johann for his podium. We are very happy and leave Argentina with a great result. I hope I can do also a good race in Austin and will continue to work hard on myself."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"This was an incredible weekend! It was very tense tough and very difficult to cope with the crazy weather we had here. I think everybody was worried, start delayed, will it rain or not, it was difficult, but to finish a weekend like this in that way, is just unbelievable. The tension was so high. Johann did again an astonishing race, full of speed, but also full of wisdom. He is showing race by race, that he is mastering his emotions, that he is studying his rivals and he did the perfect race, almost perfect, because completely perfect it's just, when you are winning. I'm very proud of Johann and of the whole crew. Thanks to Yamaha for that great bike they are giving us. Today we almost got that elusive win, we are chasing, but fair play; I think Cal was a little bit stronger. Congrats to him. I can't stop here without saying huge congratulations to Hafizh Syahrin, who did an exceptional weekend without any mistake. He was just a bit too nervous for the qualifying, so he could not show what he was expecting. But starting from almost last to finish the race in ninth position, fighting with all the factory guys, I think this is something that is going to boost his confidence. I'm very proud of him and I'm very proud to have selected him for the season, because he is showing, that when you have the right attitude coming from this fantastic Moto2 class, you can have a lot of dreams."