Rossi Banks Crucial Championship Points at the Czech GP
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi had predicted that he would have a challenging end to the Monster Energy Grand Prix Ceské republiky race and acted accordingly. He made a strong charge in the first half of the race, taking the lead several times. Though he had to relinquish P1, he still secured solid championship points with a well-earned fourth place. Maverick Viñales was fortunately mostly unharmed but unable to continue after an unlucky race incident on the opening lap.
Rossi had a brilliant start from second place on the grid and took the holeshot. The opening laps were a continuous back and forth between him and fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso, while Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo followed. The Doctor spent most of the early stages in second position, carefully observing his compatriot until, with 14 laps to go, he felt ready to make a break for it. He overtook Dovizioso and put his head down.
The nine-time World Champion held the provisional first place for three laps before another battle at the front unfolded. The number 46 rider fell back to fifth place, but he made sure to stay in contact with the leading group. He stalked Cal Crutchlow around the track and made a decisive overtake in the final chicane of the last lap to secure fourth place over the line, 2.902s from first.
Viñales experienced a disappointing end to the Czech GP weekend. Starting from 12th place on the grid he soon found himself mixed up in the busy mid-pack of the rider field. He had hoped to make the medium front - soft rear tyre combination work for him on the first lap to make up ground, but a race incident involving him, Stefan Bradl, and Bradley Smith ended his challenge prematurely. The Spaniard was able to walk away from the crash without serious injuries and will be looking for redemption at the upcoming Grand Prix in Austria next weekend.
The fourth place made Rossi the first rider to secure more than 6000 Grand Prix championship points over all classes. It also keeps him in second position in the championship standings with 49 points to first and 23 points ahead of teammate Viñales, who is now in fourth position. Yamaha holds third place in the Constructor Championship after the race in Brno, with a 43-point margin to first, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team remain in first position in the team standings with a 3-point gap to the second team.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Automotodrom Brno tomorrow for a one-day Official IRTA Test.
Position: 5th - Championship: 2nd - Points: 132
"I think that at the end for me it was a good race because I made a good start, a good first few laps, and I always stayed in the front group. The problem was that I wasn't fast enough to fight with Dovizioso, Marquez, and Lorenzo. I didn't have enough pace, unfortunately, and that was a shame because I wanted to try to arrive on the podium, for sure. At the end I did a very good battle with Cal. I was able to overtake him in the last chicane and recovered one place, but it wasn't enough for the podium."
Position: DNF - Championship: 4th - Points: 109
"When I was already on the ground I was trying to pick up my bike, but it was too late. I don't know who made the mistake, but it's lucky in any case that I don't have any significant injuries. It was a difficult weekend, for sure. We found a new set-up in the Warm Up and I felt really good, so I was very enthusiastic about the race. We need to stay focused and keep doing our job. I think the crash was a consequence of starting from twelfth place, so we have to pay really close attention to which direction we follow with the set-up, and let's see what happens at the test tomorrow."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"It wasn't an easy race weekend at all for our team and also the last day is filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand we had Valentino starting from first row and fighting at the front. He put in the maximum and scored the best result possible given the circumstances. Of course on the other hand we feel sorry for Maverick, who's race ended early, but starting from the fourth row you know accidents like today's can happen. It's unfortunate that the mishap cost him his third place in the championship standings, especially since the set-up that he tried in this morning's Warm Up gave him a really good feeling and the decision to use the soft rear tyre could have played out well. Tomorrow we have an extra day here at the Brno circuit to get some testing done."
Zarco and Syahrin deliver strong Czech Grand Prix performance
Monster Yamaha Tech3's Johann Zarco launched forward from the third row of the grid today in scorching Automotodrom Brno. He came off the line well, defended his starting position and kept up with the top during the initial laps. With a strong and consistent pace, the fast Frenchman fought through the 21 long laps and saw the chequered flag in seventh. After 10 of 19 rounds in 2018, Zarco now occupies sixth of the overall ranking, still well in striking distance to the top 3.
In the meantime, Hafizh Syahrin did a good start and made up some places already on the first lap. The Malaysian was giving his all while fighting with his fellow rookie Franco Morbidelli, but eventually had to play it safe and take home important two points while crossing the line in 14th in order to keep the advantage of the Rookie of the Year on his side.
Position: 7th – Championship: 6th – Points: 97
"The race was good - P7 like the Qualifying. I tried to overtake at the beginning of the race, but it was complicated as the others were quite strong and I was not able to do exactly the same riding like them. So, to stay with them, I was sliding a lot and then I had to slow down a little bit. In the second part of the race I found a better pace to follow this group and almost caught them to fight, but I was a bit too close to the limit. At the end of the race, the bike was still under control, but I think I didn't have enough positive points to overtake Danilo (Petrucci). I just had to finish the race and be happy with that. From yesterday, my feeling on the bike is getting back better and better and I could see in the race that I was very close to the podium since a long time. Something was missing, but now I'm sure I can find it with my team, because we have many races in a row now and not a lot of rest, which will be an advantage to step forward."
Position: 14th – Championship: 16th – Points: 24
"In the beginning I felt really good with the bike and I was very close to Bautista. But after the middle of the race, the bike got nervous on the exit of the corners, I don't know why. I tried to understand, but it was difficult for me to fight like this, although I tried to control the bike and work with my body. For sure it was very tiring. Now I try to come back stronger from the test tomorrow. We try to find a solution and I aim to continue working in this way. I collected two points more and it's still very close to Morbidelli, but I try to make a good race next week."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"What a race! I think today the spectators who took a few days off to come down to Czech Republic didn't regret their trip because Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP have been fantastic fights. When the MotoGP race is like this, it's just an unmatchable sport and show. I think the whole grid was really worried at the start because we were thinking it might be a replay of 2017 as we could hear and see that there were some thunderstorms and there was a high possibility of rain. We were more ready than last year, but anyway fortunately, we didn't have to go through a flag-to-flag race and the track stayed dry and warm. Johann was one of the few riders on soft rear tyres. Although he said that he's confident, I was a bit skeptical, but the first half of the race was good, he was there right at the end of the front group. Then we had two or three laps where he was losing a bit and I thought the gamble wouldn't pay off. But then him and Bautista, the only ones on soft where the fastest for three laps in a row. So, we were more confident that it was a good choice. I was hoping he could catch the guy in front of him, but he never really managed to be that close. Overall, he had a really strong and good race. Three laps to go he was just 3.5 seconds off the front and in the last three laps he just took it home. Seventh is not too exciting, but all the top guys were there, he was in the group. I would say, it was the best race, we could have hoped for. The two factories that are on the podium are really strong at the moment. Clearly, they work very hard, but without an improvement you can not move forward. I think Johann did the best he can together with the team, he did the tyre gamble in order to have something, but on a regular base on a circuit like here where the machinery is very important, honestly there is not a lot we can do. We are a bit down to our competitors and it's a bit frustrating, but this is the situation. We've been living this for many years and we continue to try our best. Johann is a fighter and we want to give him what he deserves to be in front. On Hafizh' side there was a big battle as well, but of course less under the radar. He was fighting with his fellow rookie Franco Morbidelli. He was in front for quite a while and then Franco passed him, Hafizh followed, but there was nothing he could do to repass him. He is still leading the rookie championship, but he lost a point to Franco. This is exciting! He is learning and I think he did a really good weekend here in Czech Republic. In just a few days we'll see what we can do in Austria."