Close Call for Rossi and Viñales at 2020 Austrian MotoGP!
As if 2020 couldn’t get any crazier, ENEOS-sponsored riders, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, both miraculously escaped an incredibly scary incident at the Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich (Grand Prix of Austria). Taking place this past weekend, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders were nearly taken out of the race following a crash between Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli. The two riders collided at approximately 180mph approaching Turn 3 on Lap 9. Neither rider was harmed (thankfully Zarco nor Morbidelli sustained serious injuries) but their MotoGP bikes continued across the grass and narrowly missed Rossi and Viñales. However, both would take the restart and Rossi took a strong fifth place finish while Viñales made up ten positions to finish tenth.
Viñales originally had a great start from pole, fell to second position after Turn 1, and then found himself struggling at the front, which caused him to cross the start-finish line for the first time in fifth place. He managed to stick with the front group despite losing a couple of positions and was riding in front of teammate Rossi when that insane crash took place, followed by a red flag to stop the race.
After clearing the track and ensuring all riders were good to go, the teams returned to their grid positions for the 20 laps of Race 2. Their starting positions were based on where they finished on Lap 8. Rossi, while visibly shaken, regrouped quickly and fought hard from seventh place to finish fifth overall, 5.837sec from first.
“It was very scary, but for Maverick and I, we were very lucky,” said Rossi. “We have to pray and say thanks to someone tonight because the situation was so dangerous and we have to remember that this sport is dangerous. When we entered Turn 3 I felt something coming towards me, which I thought was a helicopter’s shadow, then Zarco’s bike flew past me at an incredible speed after jumping over Maverick. I’m glad nobody was hurt and all riders are OK. Overall it was a tough, but good race where I found a good rhythm and finished fifth.”
On the other hand, Viñales had a tough time following the restart, and a technical issue hindered his performance, which had him completing the first lap of Race 2 in 20th position. However, he was determined to fight and made up plenty of ground once he found his groove, finishing tenth.
“With racing, there’s always a risk,” Viñales explained. “At Turn 3 it’s really easy to crash. I didn’t see anything, but I heard the sound of crashing bikes, and that’s when I covered my head. It’s a shame we lost two really good opportunities to be at the top of the championship because I felt strong from the beginning. Just when I thought my race was over, patience prevailed and helped me overtake to get as far as I could.”
After the Austrian GP, Viñales is third in championship rankings, 19 points from first. Rossi moved to fifth. Yamaha remains first in the manufacturer standings, with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP staying second in team classification.
Viñales and Rossi return to Red Bull Ring this weekend for the Grand Prix of Styria.
Photos: Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP and MotoGP