Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales impressed with their resilience and determination today at the Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. The team-mates narrowly escaped being struck by two crashed bikes in the initial race, whereupon a red flag was brought out. During the restart both riders had to shake off the earlier incident. Rossi claimed a strong fifth place. Viñales made up ten positions to finish tenth.
In the initial race, Viñales had a good start from pole and slotted into second position after Turn 1. He then got involved in the tussle at the front and crossed the start-finish line for the first time in fifth place. He made sure to stay with the front group, although he lost a couple of positions. He was riding in front of team-mate Rossi in sixth place, who came from 12th on the grid, when disaster struck on lap 9. A monstrous crash by Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli nearly took out both Factory Yamaha riders in Turn 3. The incident was followed by a red-flag situation.
With all involved riders relatively okay and with the track cleaned, it was decided to reopen pit lane at 14:28 local time. After that the riders had only 60 seconds to head out, so the team-mates had little time to get back into the zone. The grid positions for the 20-lap race part 2 were based on the standings as of lap 8.
Rossi was understandably shaken after the incident, but he regrouped quickly. He showed his incredible mental strength, stepping back aboard his bike just 15 minutes after the incident. He had a good start from seventh place and put his head down. He was fighting with Brad Binder but couldn‘t quite make a move on him. With multiple riders crashing out, the Yamaha rider found himself in fifth place. He kept applying pressure on Binder until the very end but finished fifth, 5.837s from first.
Viñales had a difficult time after the restart. A technical issue hindered his performance, and because of this he completed the first lap in 20th place. But the Spaniard stuck with it, and his determination paid off. He rode a very strong comeback race once he got back into the groove and made up a total of ten positions. Spurred on by the progress he was making, he began to quicken his pace and set his best time in the second-to-last lap to finally cross the finish line in tenth place, 15.276s from the top.
After today‘s race Viñales is third in the championship rankings, 19 points from the leader. Rossi is now in fifth place, with a 29-point gap to first. Yamaha remains first in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also stay in second place in the team classification.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action next week for the Grand Prix of Styria at the same venue.
This was a very dramatic race. We‘d watched a very serious accident happen in Moto2 earlier today, and the incident in Turn 3 in the MotoGP race rivalled it. These were both heart-in-the-mouth moments for all spectators, but especially for the riders. We are so thankful that all riders involved are relatively okay. Restarts are always quite tough. As a rider and as a team you have to stay focused, as if it is the first time going out on track to race. Valentino didn‘t let any of it faze him, and he got down to business as usual during Race 2. Normally, fifth is a decent result, but under these circumstances it‘s an incredible achievement that only top riders can manage. Viñales was both incredibly lucky and unlucky today. He was riding in sixth place, ahead of Vale, when the big crash happened, and he narrowly avoided being hit. Then in the restart he soon encountered a technical issue with the clutch that held him back, especially in the opening laps. Once he found out how to ride around the issue, he was okay and able to salvage six points for tenth place, but it was far from the race he had hoped for. It‘s been a very eventful day, but we‘ll take a deep breath and keep pushing. We need to have a good look at all the data, because next week we‘ll have a rematch here in Spielberg.
Position: 5th | +5.837 | Laps: 20
It was very scary. All four riders, but especially me and also Maverick, were very lucky. We have to pray to somebody tonight, because the situation was very dangerous. I think it is good to be aggressive, for sure, because everybody tries to do the maximum, but for me we don‘t have to exaggerate, because we need to remember that this sport is very dangerous. You need to have respect for your rivals, especially at a track where you‘re always going at 300km/h. I have already spoken with Zarco, he promised me that he didn‘t do it on purpose. He went very wide in braking and he slammed the door in the face of Franco, and with this bike when you ride 300km/h you have the slipstream, so Franco didn‘t have any chance to brake. I was with Maverick when we entered Turn 3, and I felt something coming towards me. I thought it was the shadow of the helicopter, because sometimes it crosses the race track, but then Franco‘s bike passed me at an incredible speed, and also the bike of Zarco jumped over Maverick. So, we were very lucky, but we hope this type of incident is a lesson for riders to improve their behaviour in the future. I spoke with Franco, he is okay, he is trying not to think, but when he thinks, he too feels scared. What makes the difference on this occasion is that nobody got hurt, all riders are okay, so this changes the situation. If something bad had happened, it would have been completely different. It was difficult to restart, sincerely, but I didn‘t have a lot of choice. So I restarted, and in the race I was good. I did a good race. For us, with the Yamaha, it‘s not easy here. We suffer in top speed, so it‘s very difficult to fight with the other bikes, but I had a good pace. Unfortunately, I had a very aggressive overtake from Binder in Turn 9 that pushed me out of the track, and we lost a lot of time and lost contact with the first group. But anyway, from that moment on I still had a good rhythm, and I could arrive in fifth place. We can do better, but it was a good race.