Movistar Yamaha Moves On to Motegi
Having recharged their batteries during the two-week break after the race in Aragón, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team has flown to Japan to kick off the triple-header overseas, starting with Yamaha's home race at this weekend's Motul Grand Prix of Japan.
Following a successful Yamaha dealer event in Tokyo earlier today, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi are on route to the Twin Ring Motegi track to commence the Motul Grand Prix of Japan.
A fortnight ago, Viñales secured fourth place in Aragón. He currently holds third position in the championship standings and arrives in Japan ready for action at Yamaha's home race. He received a very warm welcome in Tokyo at today's KITTE event and aims to do the Japanese fans proud as he continues his MotoGP title quest.
Since the Spaniard began his Grand Prix racing career in 2011, he has visited the Motegi podium four times, securing two second places at the Japanese Grand Prix in Moto3 (2012 and 2013), a second place in Moto2 (2014) and a third place in the MotoGP class last year. This year he hopes to climb the top step of the rostrum to add 25 points his tally and close the 28-point gap to first place in the championship standings.
Teammate Rossi made a stunning comeback at the race weekend in Aragón, securing a brilliant fifth place, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury. The nine-time World Champion used the last two weeks to further rehabilitate his right leg and expects he will be able to ride with more ease this weekend.
In the past years, the Italian booked numerous successes at the Motegi track. Since the circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 1999, he secured two wins in the premier class (2001 and 2008), scored seven second places (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2015), and secured two third places (2010 and 2014). This weekend he aims to score solid points again and reclaim fourth in the overall standings, bridging the two-point gap to the rival ahead of him.
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit was built in 1997 and two years later it was visited by the MotoGP championship for the first time. It was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2000 as the Pacific Grand Prix until it replaced the Suzuka Circuit as the host of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2004. The 4.8 km-long Motegi track has six left and eight right corners and is one of the most popular events on the calendar. Race fans particularly enjoy its stop-start character, tight hairpins and slight elevation changes, as they always result in a weekend full of action.
Championship: 3rd - Points: 196
"The next Grand Prix, held in Japan, is very special for me since it's one of my favourites of the season and it's also the home race of Yamaha. I hope to do a good job and be able to collect more points for the championship, which is crucial to continue fighting for the title. For the next races we have to try to work even more than usual. We have to keep fighting and working with high motivation, even though it will not be easy to complete the last part of the season and bridge the gap between the championship leader and me. I will try to work even harder and I arrive in Japan with the aim to learn and be even stronger. I'm convinced that, with the support of the amazing fans at the Motegi circuit, we will be able to give our 100%."
Championship 5th - Points: 168
"After my return to MotoGP in Aragón, the work and my recovery have continued. It was good to have two more weeks after the last race to work on my rehabilitation, because now we will have three races in a row and it will be important to be in a good physical condition. I did everything possible to get pretty fit for the round at the Motegi track, because this is always a very important GP for Yamaha. I like this circuit very much and I'm glad to be here. We will do everything we can to get the best result possible."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"Having made our way to Japan, we are about to enter the very crucial last part of the season. We start with the three back-to-back overseas races before the final round in Valencia. The triple-header is always challenging, because these GPs require a lot of focus, but we are eager to get started. The Japanese Grand Prix is very special for us because it's Yamaha's home race and the passionate fans play a big role in it - their support makes this round a great event for the entire team. Though the Motegi circuit can be quite a challenging track to find a good set-up for because of its stop-start nature, we've booked lots of successes here in the past and will again be pushing to the limit this weekend. Maverick really loves this track and with Valentino's condition improving day-by-day, we are looking forward to a great weekend full of action."
Fired Up Tech3 Duo Head East for Motegi Showdown
Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger aim to kick-start the triple flyaway Grand Prix's in a positive way by powering to two notable finishes in Japan this weekend. Johann Zarco intends to build on his 6th place standing in the championship by concluding Yamaha's home Grand Prix inside the top five. Whilst Jonas Folger determinedly plans to return to form and seize the top independent honours in the 24 lap sprint on Sunday. FP1 commences at 09:55 local time, or 03:55 Central Europe, this Friday at the Twin Ring Motegi.
Championship: 6th - Points: 117
"The Motegi event is approaching and I feel good after spending two positive weeks at home, where I gathered the energy that I need for the Japanese GP. It is a circuit that I like and the corners are nice, plus there are some hard braking areas. I have fond memories of Motegi because I won my first race in the 125 cc class there and I also secured the 2015 Moto2 World Championship at that round. I believe that I can be fast at this track with the Yamaha, but the team and I must work well. I think we will start with a solid base because we have a lot of references from the factory team. Then, I aim to give the maximum that I can and I really hope to be able to stay with the leading group. I would like to fight inside the top five, and why not go for the podium? It would be amazing to achieve this in Japan."
Championship: 10th - Points: 84
"The Japanese Grand Prix is an important event because it's Yamaha's home round, and it also is for many of the staff in our team. The overseas races are always special as we spend a lot of time travelling together throughout the three or four weeks. We all get closer, which means that we enjoy the weekends more. I am looking forward to Japan and of course, the goal is to try and get back the speed that I had until the midpoint of the season. I'm sure that we can solve the issues and build up the confidence so that we will be able to get into the positions that we want to be in. I am optimistic and excited for this weekend, and I am sure that we can reach the goal that we have set ourselves."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"The next round for us is the Japanese Grand Prix at the Motegi circuit. It's always a special event and is set in the remote but very picturesque and lovely countryside. It's a great pleasure to race there and the facilities are fantastic. Tech3 has been a Yamaha team for almost 20 years, so it means a lot to go to our manufacturers home GP. We have many friends inside the Yamaha group that have been with us in the past and that support our team and riders at every race. So we will be delighted, as always, to see so many friends from the factory as well as other places. The fans are really special and they often come with unique outfits to show their support! In addition, the people are very nice and polite whilst they wait to meet the riders in the paddock. The circuit is a track that both of our boys like a lot, but especially Johann. His first ever Grand Prix victory in the 125 class was at Motegi. We are excited and we have Sakura and many other Japanese partners who work with us, which makes this round even more special. In addition, this race is the first in the triple overseas events, and following this, we head to Australia and Malaysia so it's vital to do well in Japan and get some energy for the following two. Three in a row, with quite a long trip in-between each one, means we all use a lot of energy. It's a very tiring but exciting trip so let's start in Japan and hopefully we can score two great results to please the Monster Yamaha Tech3 fans who are superb and who always give us amazing support."