Quartararo and Viñales Salvage Valuable Points at 2021 Spanish GP
After an explosive beginning to the 2021 MotoGP season, the ENEOS-sponsored duo representing Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP — Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo — made the most of a difficult day at the Gran Premio de España. Despite a poor relatively qualifying position, Viñales’ seventh place finish earns him important championship points, allowing him to retain his third place in the championship standings. Quartararo led the race from lap 4 to lap 15 but an arm issue prevented him from taking his third-consecutive victory, finishing in a painful 13th place.
Starting seventh on the grid, Viñales skillfully maneuvered the first corners alongside a busy mid-pack, emerging ninth after lap 1. He gained a position after Alex Rins crashed, but wasn’t able to make much progress in the opening stages due to turning problems in slower corners with a full tank of fuel. Johann Zarco made a charge, but Viñales wouldn’t give up his fight, recovering eighth place on lap 10 and sticking to it.
The Spaniard spent another 10 laps holding his position until passing his teammate and was eager to take sixth place from Aleix Espargaro, but came 0.487sec short of seventh place, 5.651sec from first. The result earned Viñales nine valuable championship points.
“Our rhythm was good, but everyone was going fast,” said Viñales. “If we had started from the front, this would’ve been a different race. But we had problems at the slower corners, which is something we need to work on. The bike will be fantastic once we solve the issues.”
Quartararo once again had a stellar practice and qualifying sessions, earning pole position for the race. He settled into fourth place after the first corner, but wasn’t shy about overtaking Francesco Bagnaia, Franco Morbidelli and Jack Miller in Lorenzo’s Corner during the opening four laps. After getting into first, Quartararo set a new Fastest Lap Record on lap 8 with a time of 1.37.770!
With 17 laps remaining, the gap to second place was over a second, leaving El Diablo to essentially run his own race and cruise to his third win. But with 12 laps to go, he experienced a severe case of arm pump — the common name for Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome. Essentially, the continued exertion by the rider increases blood flow, which causes the forearm muscles to expand. With nowhere to go, the muscle is restricted and is extremely painful with the sort of braking pressures expected of MotoGP riders.
As his arm pump worsened, Quartararo lost his 1.4sec lead in one lap, unable to defend his position against Miller. Riding under excruciating pain, the Frenchman lost additional positions over the remaining laps and dropped to 13th place, crossing the finish line 18.907sec from first.
“My arm pump problem was clear,” said Quartararo. “I knew I could hold Miller at bay and we were in a great position to win, but suddenly I had no more feeling in my right arm. I could’ve gone a bit faster but without any power left in my arm, I had to try and finish the best I could. Hopefully I can find ways to treat the arm pump quickly as my home Grand Prix is next and I want to be healthy there. The bike works well but now I need to perform well!”
After the race, Quartararo is in second place with 64 championship points, while Viñales remains in third with 50 points. Yamaha leads the manufacturer championship with 91 points, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also remains first in the Team title with 114 points.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP travels to the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix circuit in Le Mans, France for the SHARK Grand Prix de France on May 13-16, 2021.