Valentino Rossi
News Report 21 October 2018

2018 MotoGP Japan - Motegi

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Twin Ring Motegi
4801 m
10 / 21 / 2018
14:00 Local time

Movistar Yamaha`s Perseverance in Motegi Pays Off with Championship Points


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi showed his fighting spirit today at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. It earned him fourth place and valuable championship points, putting him in close contention for the battle for second in the championship standings. Teammate Maverick Viñales had a challenging start to the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, but with his typical determination took seventh position, so he can continue to fight for second and third place in the final three rounds of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.

Rossi had a great start from ninth on the grid and soon wrestled himself to fifth place on the first lap. He continued to fight with Álex Rins for the position and made his pass stick at the end of lap 2, eager not to let the four front-runners get away. The Italian set a provisional fastest lap, a 1'46.052s, to cut the over 1s margin in half. Just one lap later he arrived at the back of the leading group. Wasting no time, he made a block pass on Jack Miller in turn 11, with 20 laps to go, to take over fourth place. He now had to close a 0.6s gap to stay within podium contention but couldn't make strides.

Unable to drop under the 1'46 mark, he had to let the chasing Suzuki's pass him on lap 10 and 11. When Andrea Iannone crashed on lap 15, the number 46 moved up to fifth place again, but the gap to Rins was now over two seconds, so the Doctor focused on the men behind him instead. Johann Zarco and Álvaro Bautista were on the move in the final five laps. However, the battle amongst the two bought the Yamaha rider time, which he used to perfection. As Andrea Dovizioso crashed on the penultimate lap, the nine-time World Champion crossed the line in fourth place, 6.413s from first.

Viñales didn't have the start he had hoped for and needed a little time to get into the groove. He began the race as seventh on the grid but was pushed back to tenth in the busy first corners. Lapping in the mid-1'46s, the Spaniard was unable to keep a charging Bautista at bay but gained a position as Jack Miller crashed on lap 11. He moved up another place when Iannone fell four laps later and used this as his cue to up the pace.

The youngster dropped into the low 1'46s just when the riders in front of him started to struggle a little. He launched his first attack on Dani Pedrosa on lap 19, but it didn't last. A lap later he made it stick and put his head down. He knew that closing the over 2s margin to Bautista and Zarco would be a tall order and instead made it his priority to win some championship points. After Dovizioso went down, the number 25 rider took seventh place at the chequered flag, 13.330s from the race winner.

Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Team wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga made his experience count in Motegi today. He rode a confident race, securing a strong 14th place aboard his YZR-M1, finishing 32.550s from first. This achievement earns him two championship points and puts him in 24th place, ahead of seven other riders.

Today's results see Rossi hold third position in the championship standings with just a 9-point gap to second. Viñales remains in fourth place with a 30-point gap to his teammate. Yamaha holds third place in the Constructor Championship after the race in Japan, with a 100-point margin to first, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team have reclaimed second position in the team standings with a 51-point gap to first.

Yamaha extend their congratulations to Marc Márquez of the Repsol Honda Team on taking the 2018 MotoGP World Championship Title.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Phillip Island circuit next weekend for the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, held from October 26th - 28th.

Valentino Rossi

Position: 4th - Championship: 3rd - Points: 185

"Fourth place is not a bad result. I think that we've worked well today, because this morning we made another step and I felt better with the bike. So, I started the race quite optimistically, trying to fight for the podium. Unfortunately some other riders were faster than me. I tried to not give up, not to make any mistakes and to arrive at the end of the race with a good pace."

Maverick Viñales

Position: 7th - Championship: 4th - Points: 155

"We shuffled a lot with the settings of the bike, but we couldn't be fast in today's race. We tried something different before the race, but it didn't really work. We followed a direction we used in Buriram to see if that would work, but in the end it wasn't like that. I couldn't ride like I wanted to, so we need to keep working and trying to stay focused on the way we manage the race weekend, and stay strong. We are going to try to do our best again on Phillip Island, and we'll try to see where we stand."

Massimo Meregalli

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director

"First of all, I would like to congratulate Marc Márquez and the Repsol Honda Team. For us it was a challenging race weekend. Valentino made a step in the morning and started the race perfectly. He was feeling good with the bike and was positioned at the front in the early stages, but he came just short of being able to battle with the front runners. For Maverick we decided to take a risk on the set-up that ultimately didn't pay off. We had hoped to end today differently. However, Vale and Maverick are still serious contenders for second and third place in the rider standings, so we still have a lot to fight for next weekend in Australia."

Zarco Fights for Strong Sixth in Japan – Impressive Syahrin Seals Top 10

Starting the Motul Grand Prix of Japan from the front row of the grid, Monster Yamaha Tech3's Johann Zarco ended the first lap in seventh position. The fast Frenchman was fighting hard to keep up with the front group, showed a strong pace and finally saw the chequered flag in sixth position. With three rounds to go, Zarco is back to sixth in the overall standings and still in striking distance for the fight of the independent riders' championship.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin showed a stunning race. Starting from the sixth row, he occupied P18 after the first lap, but step by step upped his pace and made up one position after another. The strong MotoGP newcomer eventually finished inside the top 10, gaining another point on Franco Morbidelli and is now missing out on the Rookie of the Year lead by just four points.

Johann Zarco

Position: 6th – Championship: 6th – Points: 133

"I want to say, it was a good race. I really gave all I could give regarding energy and potential of me and of the bike. It's a shame, as the start was good, but the first four corners I lost a lot of positions. I could not go where I wanted to go, it was too difficult and then the first ten laps maybe have been the most difficult. Later, the second half of the race, I got a strong pace and I was feeling more comfortable on the bike - not enough to catch the first group, but good enough to be fast. I could see the crash of Iannone and Dovizioso and I saw that also Rossi was forcing to be fast, so I was pushing myself to prepare to overtake him, trying to fight with him on the last lap. Unfortunately, Bautista was also coming back after his start. When he overtook me towards the end, I totally lost the contact to Valentino and the possibility to finish in fourth position. Anyway, I need to be happy. The weekend has been decent, I was feeling quite good on the bike, although I feel that things are missing. About the championship; many things are moving. Cal (Crutchlow) did a great race and his 20 points are very important for our fight for the best independent rider."

Hafizh Syahrin

Position: 10th – Championship: 17th – Position: 34

"I'm really happy to be in the top 10. This is what I always want for myself and now we're inside the top 10 for the second time, so I'm really delighted. Thank you very much to the whole team, because they made a good job. We are always working truly hard to be strong in the race. Thanks as well to everybody who supports me and especially my family, who came here. We need to continue working hard. The next race in Phillip Island, I will do my best. It will not be easy, but I'm already looking forward and try to be in a god shape before my home Grand Prix."

Hervé Poncharal

Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager

"As always in Motegi, Japan, a lot of things are happening during the MotoGP race. Clearly, we didn't get the start we were hoping for with Johann. Jack (Miller) was a bit aggressive, hit him twice and we couldn't get the benefit of our front row position. He just tried to stay on the outside almost every corner of the first lap, but you loose a lot of positions and from that moment, it was just a mission to recover and try to catch the guys in front of him. For sure, he didn't have the pace and I think nobody inside the Yamaha camp could fight with the top group, but the disappointment started to go away when we saw him coming back. He was catching Valentino (Rossi) tenth by tenth, but he arrived at 0.4 behind him with around four laps to go, so we were really hot on seeing on what could have happen during these last laps. But unfortunately Bautista was catching him, passed him and that was the end of the story. It was too late to try a move on Valentino. It's been a though race, but I think Johann did his best and I want to thank him for the whole weekend, because he showed great spirit and great determination on track, which is what we want and we are happy to see him like he was, when we started the year. On the other side, we are very, very happy with Hafizh, who ended up fastest rookie again. He didn't have such a good start and lost a few positions. It's difficult to pass and I told him before, be careful and take your time - and this is what he did. But we could see as soon as he was passing another rider, there was quickly a gap as he was so much faster and catching up. He eventually managed to reach a top 10 position. This is a great achievement. The lap times were great, he was lapping exactly the same and sometimes quicker than both, Johann and Valentino, which is something we are very proud of. He didn't do any mistake, but was learning every single lap. We are very pleased. Franco Morbidelli finally managed to pass Bradley Smith in the very last sector of the very last lap, so we just got one point on him. Anyway, we are only four points behind him in the championship, three rounds to go, so it's going to be very exciting. I think he's learning a lot and I'm very proud of Hafizh. What he did today is a remarkable race and performance."