Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 6th May 2018
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales’ persistence earned them valuable points for the championship today. They pushed to the fullest at a hot and slippery Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto, securing fifth and seventh place respectively.
Rossi had a good start from tenth position on the grid and quickly moved up a spot. Despite the track being crowded with 25 riders simultaneously trying to squeeze through the tight corners of the Jerez track, he held firm as he crossed the line for the first time. Over the next few laps he battled with Andrea Iannone, but wasn’t able to cling on to the back of his compatriot’s bike. When two rivals ahead of him crashed out of the race in the early stages, the Doctor found himself in eighth position, after he had to let Danilo Petrucci through.
The Italian then focused on defending his position from an approaching Jack Miller and managed the gap perfectly. He bided his time until he felt the bike come to him with eight laps to go and launched an attack on Petrucci, but was unable to make it stick. Yet, as three further frontrunners crashed out of the race, he moved up to fifth position and was consequently part of the group battling for third place. Miller passed Rossi on lap 20, but two laps later the nine-time World Champion retaliated and was digging deep to bridge the gap to the riders in front. He was making serious strides, but came just short, taking the chequered flag in fifth place, 8.743s from first.
Viñales had a difficult start to the 25-lap race. He shadowed his teammate in the first lap, in tenth position, but fell back to thirteenth place on the fourth lap. As some rivals crashed out, he moved up two positions, but had to hand one back when Alvaro Bautista passed him on lap 7.
The Yamaha rider was keen on pleasing his fans, who had travelled from far and wide to watch his home Grand Prix. He was pushing hard to keep posting low 1‘40s and, as multiple riders crashed out of the race on lap 18, he moved further up the order to ninth place. The young fighter seized the opportunity and started to gain momentum. He overtook Franco Morbidelli two laps later and put his head down, setting his fastest lap of the race in lap 21. He was consistently closing in on Bautista and made his move two laps before the end to take a hard-fought seventh place, 13.543s from the leader.
Today’s race results see Viñales staying in third place in the championship standings, with 50 points. Rossi gained a place, holding sixth with a 40-point total. Yamaha remains second in the Constructor Championship with 76 points, while Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is still in first position in the Team Championship, having scored 90 points.
The team will be back on track tomorrow in Jerez, Spain, for a one-day official IRTA-test, followed by a private test in Italy later next week.
The Spanish GP is always a spectacle, but nobody could have predicted the dramatic incidents that happened today. We knew we had a difficult race ahead of us. The track conditions in today’s heat were not easy and this is highlighted by the many crashes we saw this afternoon. Vale and Maverick both struggled in middle of the race, but their pace seemed to get stronger towards the end. Vale pushed as much as he could and was very close to landing a place on the podium. Maverick also ended the day scoring some valuable points, so he remains in third place in the championship. Tomorrow we have another day of testing at this circuit, which we will use to find some solutions. The Jerez test is always important, because we can use it to do back-to-back setting comparisons. We have to keep working to increase our bike’s performance, so we get back to the level where we belong.
Fifth place, with my pace this weekend, is not so bad. I was also lucky because three guys in front of me crashed. We gave the maximum and today the race was quite good, but unfortunately this is our potential now. I was a lot faster compared to last year, but it’s not enough to fight for the podium. If we want to try to fight for the podium and the victory, we have to speed up our development process. I hope we can do so soon.
We were a little lucky because some riders made a mistake and we could jump up the leaderboard. I was unable to go fast from the first lap and I was struggling a lot to stay with Morbidelli and Bautista. At the end I had a little bit more grip and I pushed, so I was a little bit stronger than Alvaro, but we can’t be happy with seventh place. At the moment I’m mostly focused on the setting of the bike – we’re not so far off a solution. The bike is working well, but we still need to work. We tried to solve it by changing the set-up, but I don’t think that what we tried is the way forward. We have to continue to give our all to get the best results we can at the next race.