Determined Viñales Collects Championship Points at Challenging Italian MotoGP
Scarperia (Italy), 2nd June 2019
GRAND PRIX OF ITALY
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales secured a hard-fought sixth place today in a hot and challenging Gran Premio d‘Italia Oakley. Valentino Rossi failed to finish for the first time this season, due to an unlucky crash on lap 7.
Viñales showed great stamina and character in today‘s sweltering Gran Premio d‘Italia Oakley, riding from 12th position to take sixth at the checkered flag. Valentino Rossi was fortunately unharmed but unable to continue after an unlucky fall on lap 7.
Starting from P7, Viñales lost a few positions in the tussle of entering the first corner and settled in 12th position. After a few laps he gained two places and tucked in behind fellow Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo, hoping to join the group of nine in front.
With relentless focus he reeled them in and was in ninth place when Francesco Bagnaia crashed out with 11 laps to go. Soon the group was pulled apart again. The Spaniard, however, used his experience and kept a cool head. As he predicted, Viñales managed the tires and used his physical fitness to bring a strong challenge to the riders ahead of him in the final stages.
With eight laps to go he gained a place as Jack Miller ended up in the gravel, which was the #12 rider’s cue to start his late charge. Over the next two laps he overtook Quartararo and Crutchlow, moving to sixth place. With more than a 1sec gap to the rival in front of him, the Yamaha man pushed to the max but was unable to inch close enough. He finished sixth, 7.481sec from first.
“Today I struggled a lot. I had no feeling with the bike during the race and the tires were very slippery, Viñales confirmed. “I tried to push in the correct way and manage the tires in the best way I could, but it wasn’t enough. I don’t think we should be getting sixth place – we need to push more. I really don’t know what to expect for Montmeló. For sure, during practice we can be there, but in the race it’s a different story. Our bike suffers a lot when we don’t have grip. So, we need to keep working to see if we can improve the feeling and take steps forward.”
Rossi had a decent start from P18 and, despite the flurry of activity in the field, he gained two positions before crossing the line for the first time. The hometown hero began his chase, showing good pace, but with 19 laps to go he had to do tit all over again – having taken 15th from Jorge Lorenzo, he was in the groove but clipped the rear of Joan Mir going into Turn 4 and skillfully steered his YZR-M1 through the gravel trap. He rejoined the track in 22nd place.
The Doctor soon moved up a position again as a rival crashed out, but it wasn’t to last. Bad luck struck twice when he restarted his hunt. He suffered a crash in Turn 9 with 16 laps to go and was unable to continue his home GP.
“It was a very difficult weekend, because I was very slow. We expected to be more competitive, so it was difficult to manage, Rossi said. “We also made some mistakes in the practice: I made a mistake in FP3 and because of it I started towards the back of the grid. In the race, my pace wasn’t fantastic. I tried to overtake Mir, but he tried to defend his position, and unfortunately we touched. Luckily, we didn’t crash, but we went onto the gravel. After that I tried to push to recover and I lost the front and crashed, so it was a bad end to a difficult weekend, especially since it was at Mugello. But that’s the way it is. We will try to do better.”
Today’s unlucky 0-point finish pushed Rossi down to fifth position in the championship standings, with a 43-point gap to first. Viñales’ sixth place result moves him up from tenth to eighth in the rankings, with a 75-point margin to the top. Yamaha is now fourth in the constructor standings, whilst Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP continues to hold third in the team classification.
The team will be back on the track in two weeks’ time for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.