Valentino Rossi Rides to Stunning Second in Close MotoGP Cota Race
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi delivered a strong podium result at the Grand Prix of The Americas at the weekend. Maverick Viñales showed fighting spirit, despite adversities along the way, to finish in 11th place.
A perfectly sunny race day at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) delivered nothing short of a sensational Grand Prix of The Americas. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi put his heart and soul into the race and only just missed out on the victory, taking secnd position. Maverick Viñales had an equally competitive race pace, but a ride-through penalty after a jump start cost him valuable time and places. Still the Spaniard kept going, cutting through the pack all the way back to 11th place.
At the start, Rossi rushed off the line, dashing towards the tight first corner, as he planned. He knew that if he wanted to challenge for the win, he would have to push 100% from the start. He was doing a superb job to block Cal Crutchlow, while chasing Marc Márquez.
With 15 laps to go, The Doctor got some breathing space as Crutchlow crashed out. At the time, Márquez was almost 3sec ahead, but the Italian never gave up. He searched for the perfect balance between keeping the pressure on and managing his tires, and it paid off. Márquez crashed out with 12 laps to go, giving Yamaha the lead in the race.
The events also encouraged the chasing Álex Rins, but Rossi managed the gap until, with five laps to go, the battle for the victory was on. Rins came through a lap later. The veteran tried to retaliate, using a block pass, but was unsuccessful and it resulted in 0.5sec gap.
The number 46 rider was making a great attempt to undo the damage, inching closer, but he ran wide with two laps to go, meaning he had to do the work all over again. He wasn’t giving up, though. In the last lap Rossi managed to make up a lot of time and was looking threatening behind Rins in the final sector, but ultimately he came just 0.462sec short as they crossed the finish line.
Viñales held firm at the start of Round 3, defending his P6 into turn one. He battled with Andrea Dovizioso and crossed the line for the first time in seventh place. With 17 laps to go, Viñales had to let Franco Morbidelli past, and more bad news was on the horizon as he was given a ride-through penalty for a jump start.
A moment of confusion lost him 4sec and five places, as he mistakenly took the long-lap penalty lane. He completed the ride-through penalty in pit lane on the next lap, which moved him even further back to 19th place.
Although down the order, the Spaniard wasn’t out for the count. He soon flashed a red sector and started to climb up the ranking again. While various riders retired from the race, he passed Hafizh Syahrin and found himself in P16, nearly back into the points and lapping more than 1sec quicker than a group of nine riders ahead of him. He soon gained two more places, closed an almost 4sec gap, took another two positions, closed a 5sec gap, and overtook yet another rider to salvage an 11th place finish, 34.077sec from first.
Today’s results see Rossi climb to second position in the championship standings with a three-point gap to first. Viñales is now in 12th place, with a 40-point margin to the top. Yamaha is joint second in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is also second in the team classifications.
The team will be back in action in when MotoGP embarks on the European leg of the championship, starting with the Spanish GP at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto.
“I’m very sorry for missing out on the victory, because when I saw Márquez crash I said to myself ‘Maybe I can do it,’ but after that Rins arrived. Sincerely, I pushed to the maximum, the race was very fast, I did one good lap after another, but in the end he was better than I was. I was riding very well, and I wasn’t able to overtake him. It’s a shame because I haven’t won for a long time, but we are strong, and we will try again next time.
On a positive note, I tried everything today. I rode a very good race and stayed in front for a long time. Riding on the limit, unfortunately I made some mistakes. Maybe if had done everything perfectly I could have tried to attack on the last lap again. So, mixed feelings: on the one side, I’m sorry about the victory, and on the other side it’s a great result after a great weekend. I was strong and I rode a very good last lap, but I didn’t want to do anything too crazy because 20 points are very important for the championship, which is still very open. It looks like we are strong this year and that the bike has improved, and these are the most important things, because maybe we can fight at the front many times this season.”
“I misunderstood the penalty a little, but anyway, besides the mistake, it was a good race weekend for us here. We showed a really good race pace and after the ride through I could easily ride in the 2.04s. This is just the way it is. We will have to try again in Jerez and be stronger there.
I made a mistake at the start. I was starting really well all weekend and I tried to do the same, but on the grid the bike got a bit hotter and the clutch engaged and the bike started running. It’s a shame, because I felt really good during the race. I already knew there was a chance that I would get a penalty, and that’s just the way it is. At first, I thought I had to do a long lap, but then I saw ‘ride through’ and thought ‘OK, I have to do this.’
The good thing was that the bike was working really well. We had a good set-up for the race. We need to keep working and find the best system for the start. The start was actually good, as in that I didn’t lose any positions, and I tried to overtake some riders. Let’s see what happens at the next races.”