Movistar Yamaha Put Up Fierce Fight in the Malaysian GP
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales pushed to the max during today's Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, putting on a brave ride from 11th on the grid to 4th position over the finish line. Valentino Rossi had a heroic run at the Sepang International Circuit, but it ended in heartbreak on lap 17 when he crashed out of the lead. He was able to rejoin the race and took the chequered flag in 18th place.
Viñales started from 11th on the grid and soon found himself in 10th position. After warming up his tyres on the first two laps, he began his charge. His pace was as strong as the front group, meaning he had no problems cutting through the field, though there was a lot of ground to be made up.
With nine laps to go he took over sixth place from Andrea Dovizioso. The Spaniard didn't waste any time to also pass Dani Pedrosa. He was trying to close the gap to Álex Rins but was unable to catch him. As his teammate at the front made a small mistake, Viñales crossed the line in fourth place, 4.667s from first.
Rossi had a perfect start from second, taking the hole shot and holding the lead superbly. He had a stunning consistent pace that allowed him to make a clean getaway from his pursuers.
Though his advantage went up and down over the first half of the race, there was no one who could really reach Rossi at the front, let alone make an attempt at passing the nine-time World Champion. However, in the final ten laps the heat and the tyre degradation meant Marc Márquez was closing in.
The Doctor responded by picking up the pace and defended his first place brilliantly, but a small mishap in Turn 1 on lap 17 caused him to slide down the tarmac. He was able to rejoin the race in 18th place and finished in the same position, 58.288s from first.
Today's results see Rossi hold on to third position in the championship standings with a 25-point gap to second. Viñales, in fourth place, reduced the gap to his teammate to 2 points. Yamaha is still in third place in the Constructor Championship after the race in Malaysia, with a 38-point margin to second, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team remain in second position in the team standings, with now a 39-point gap to first.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in two weeks' time for the final showdown of 2018, the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, held from November 16th - 18th.
Position: 4th – Championship: 4th – Points: 193
"I already said yesterday that we lost the race in qualifying. This morning I went out in the wet again and I finished first. Everything in MotoGP is so close now, so you have to start at the front. The tyre wear also gets worse when you're fighting your way up from the back, you destroy the tyres. I was close to the podium, but with four laps to go the tyre dropped a lot and I couldn't do anything about it. The team worked very well this weekend, they provided me with a really good bike. I think that, if I had started from the front, I would have been fighting for the race. I'm actually really happy that at three different tracks I was in contention to win. I think there are still many things that we can improve on, but things are better compared to before, and now I can be more consistent. I think Valencia will be a good track for us, I really like the track, it's good for my riding style, so let's see."
Position: 18th – Championship: 3rd – Points: 192
"It was a great shame because this was my best race of the season. I felt comfortable, I had a good pace, I pushed, and I had the chance to win, but unfortunately with four or five laps to go I fell - I don't understand what happened. I made a mistake, because I crashed. It's such a pity, but it still remains a good weekend, because we improved the setting of the bike. I think we have to do some more work, but it looks like we were able to use the bike in a better way in the last few races. This is good, but we have to see if we're also strong in Valencia. It's a difficult track for us in general, but we have to try."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"For sure this is not the ending we had hoped for this weekend. The final results don't do justice to the pace of our riders, because they both had really strong form this weekend. Maverick had to start from the fourth row and make up a lot of ground. If he had started a bit more towards the front, he would have been a top contender today, because his pace matched Vale's. Valentino did exactly what he needed to do at the start. He was leading the race perfectly, so it's a great shame it ended the way it did. Nevertheless, we can take some positives from these last three races, as we made a step with the bike and were consistent in our performance. Today we were competitive at a circuit that doesn't necessarily play to our bike's strengths. So, with that in mind, we head to Valencia eager to fight at the front again during the season finale."
Zarco Reconquers Podium - Syahrin Storms to Outstanding Top 10 at Home
Starting from the first place of the grid, Monster Yamaha Tech3's Johann Zarco came off the line well and was on an impressive pace from the word go. For 20 scorching laps, he was following the top and eventually fought the heat to be back on the podium with an amazing third place. Thereby, he was the fastest independent rider and retook the lead in the independent riders' championship before the last round of the season in Valencia.
However, on the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin delivered a sensational start, making up 11 positions in the first corners. In the course of the very demanding and hot race, the local hero fought his way up to 10th place and pleased his home crowd with a breathtaking top 10 result. With it, the Malaysian MotoGP newcomer closes up again on Franco Morbidelli in the fight for the Rookie of the Year title, but still sits 10 points behind his opponent.
Position: 3rd – Championship: 6th – Points: 149
"I'm pretty happy, it was a fantastic race! But also difficult like usually in Malaysia. I was tired at the end, but the energy is coming back already. I think the key for that podium was the beginning of the race. I was thinking about overtaking Valentino (Rossi), but he was fast and it was good to be behind him. I could go away, but did a little mistake, when Marc overtook me. I tried to stay behind Marc, had a little gap, but was able to keep a good pace and then Valentino crashed, so I was second. I thought I can control, but four laps to the end Alex (Rins) was faster than me. Even if I was controlling the race well, when I tried to push a little bit more on the last laps, but I just got three tenths faster, which was not fast enough to keep the gap. He overtook me on the last lap. I tried to fight again, but I didn't have any rear grip anymore. Anyway, the third place is a good finish."
Position: 10th – Championship: 16th – Points: 40
"It's just unbelievable! First of all, I want to say thank you very much to my team, because they always believe in me and give me great motivation. Yesterday has been a disaster for us, but we made up for it. In the starting grid, I saw my father and was just emotional and had to hug him. I want to thank everybody that came here. To arrive in the top 10 for my home GP was my target, but to be honest, I didn't believe it was possible. But in the end, we did it, which is incredible. I want to thank everybody; I love my family and my fans. I'm so happy!"
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"What an unbelievable day today here in Sepang Malaysia. I think the race direction took the right decision to move everything forward two hours. We had great sunshine, a beautiful race and regarding Monster Yamaha Tech3, I'm very proud. For Johann, after getting that great pole position last night, he got a great start, put his head down, followed Valentino (Rossi) for quite a few laps, then Marc (Marquez) came into that group and this trio has been almost leading the race for two thirds, then Johann dropped a little bit, but he was always in contention for that so dearly awaited podium, where we haven't been since Jerez. I feel very sorry for Valentino, but he crashed, although I think he was doing a great race. At that moment we thought, the podium is almost in the bag and second position was quite easy and then we saw Rins coming from nowhere, doing incredible lap times. Congratulations to him. He passed us, but we are anyway very happy with the podium, a really strong weekend. It was a tough day today with the heat, with managing the body for the riders and also the tyres, so this is great. We are now leading the independent riders' championship, which is the main target for us now - in fifth, joint with Alex Rins, so Valencia is going to be something to challenge for us. But of course, this is only one part of the garage. On the other side, I was feeling very sorry last night after Qualifying for Hafizh, because I know how important this Malaysian Grand Prix was for him. I know the effort he put in to reach MotoGP and finally for his first home GP he was so disappointed, so sad. I tried to cheer him up this morning, I tried to cheer him up on the grid and - I don't know if there is a link in between what I told him and what he did, but the start was unreal. Maybe one of the best starts I've ever seen, at least this season and from that moment he was fighting with Miller, Petrucci and even Viñales at some stage. He finished the race in 10thposition, which is a dream for us and for him and I'm so happy, because Hafizh is not only an incredible team player, but he is a charming young man and he is the best ambassador Malaysia could have in MotoGP. I could feel how disappointed he was to see all the people coming to support him and him not delivering. Finally he did deliver and this is the cherry on the cake. We are going to fly back home after five weeks on the road, but we go home happy, positive in mind and ready to challenge what we have to do in Valencia."