Rossi and Viñales Struggle at Czech MotoGP
The second half of the 2019 MotoGP season got off to a lukewarm start for the ENEOS-sponsored Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP duo of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales. After a three-week vacation they battled against wet and dry conditions at the Brno Grand Prix of Czech Republic. Rossi starting off well in the opening laps while Viñales was able to pick up the pace in the latter stages, taking sixth and tenth place respectively.
Weather not only caused delays, but created a dangerous combination of slick and dry conditions on different sections of the track. Rossi lined up seventh on the grid but quickly settled into sixth place after Turn 1, and held on throughout the opening lap. Towards the end of the race (with 16 laps left), he battled with Cal Crutchlow, who pressured and eventually passed Rossi with 13 laps remaining, forcing the Italian to ride solo across the finish line nearly 9-seconds off first place.
“Starting the race wet would’ve been very dangerous,” Rossi said. “Everybody would have used slicks and then arrived at the first corner together. Asking for a delay was the right choice because, in the end, we had a real race that was completely dry. I’m not happy about sixth place but I was able to ride better, which is a positive in my eyes.”
Viñales, however, started much further behind in the pack, from P9 on the damp side of the grid. Although he struggled to get a feel for track conditions, he eventually settled into a groove and began to pick up his pace. With five laps to go, Viñales was the fastest rider on track, ending his weekend roughly 16.5 seconds from the winner.
“Starting out on the damp portion of the track was a disadvantage,” Viñales remarked. “I struggled with the bike losing grip, so it’s something we have to improve on.”
The following morning saw both riders take advantage of an official IRTA testing session, where Rossi took sixth and Viñales with second, using the eight-hour session to test prototype equipment, which included new engines and tires.
Viñales currently sits fifth in the championship standings, only a point ahead of Rossi in sixth, and with a 116-point gap to first. Yamaha remains third in the manufacturer standings, as does Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, which is placed third in the team classification.
Both riders are looking forward to stepping up to the challenge of the Austrian Grand Prix, taking place this Sunday, August 11 at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.