The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team are celebrating at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit today, as they have returned to the top step of the podium with Maverick Viñales taking a stunning win. Valentino Rossi was also a strong contender in today's Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. He crossed the line in sixth place.
VIñales didn't have the start he had hoped for from second on the front row and slotted into tenth position after the first corners. At the end of the first lap he started to climb his way back up the ranking order, and on lap 3 he moved into eighth position. He remained there for a while, but was looking comfortable.
Drama happened with 21 laps to go, when Johann Zarco and Marc Márquez collided. Unaffected by the incident, the Factory Yamaha rider used the moment to launch his attack. He smoothly fought his way through the rider field to take the lead on lap 8. From that moment on he did exactly as he predicted yesterday: he put his head down, lapping 1'29s laps, to break away at the front.
Towards the end of the race the Spaniard had a comfortable advantage of over 4s, allowing him to have a bit of a breather over the last five laps. He didn't put a foot wrong and secured a fantastic victory, with a 1.543s margin over his closest rival.
Rossi had a good start from seventh on the grid, gaining a spot on the first lap. He continued to fight in the bunched-up leading group and soon found a way past Álex Rins to take fifth. He was looking to hit the front of the pack early but got involved in a scrap with Zarco and Jack Miller, which moved him back to sixth.
As Zarco and Márquez touched going into turn 1 on lap 6, the fight for the lead heated up. Viñales took the number one spot on lap 8 and the Doctor was keen on following him. He wrestled for a bit with Andrea Dovizioso and initially came out victorious, so he could attempt to follow his teammate in first place, but he couldn't quite keep up the challenge.
A fight with Andrea Iannone cost him some valuable time, and with 12 laps to go he got swept up again in a battle consisting of five riders fighting for second place. Rossi was pushed back to fifth but wasn't about to give up. With 8 laps to go he made another charge, briefly reclaiming second place, only to find himself in sixth again shortly after. The Italian pushed hard and had another try in the final three laps, but still finished the race in sixth place, 5.132s from his teammate.
Today's results see Rossi hold third position in the championship standings with a 15-point gap to second. Viñales remains in fourth place, and thanks to his splendid win he currently has a 15-point gap to his teammate.
Yamaha holds third place in the Constructor Championship after the race in Australia, with a 44-point margin to second, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team remain in second position in the team standings, with now a 16-point gap to first.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Sepang International Circuit next weekend for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, held from November 2nd - 4th.
Maverick Viñales - Position: 1st – Championship: 4th – Points: 180
"This is the best feeling ever, honestly! We've been in the dark all year, and suddenly we came into the light! I couldn't show my potential in the previous races, but today I could. Being first in Australia is always amazing! It's the best track ever, and I like to be at the front there. To win here and break this long none winning period of Yamaha is unbelievable! I was riding on the bike like I was in FP4. I got a really good feeling from the bike, so I knew I could maintain 1'29s. That's what I did for most of the middle of the race. I tried to escape as far as I could, because I knew my tyre wasn't going to last until the end. I knew opening that gap would be difficult, I had some moments with some riders, and some shaking on the bike - I was struggling, but I still made it through anyway. It was amazing! I have to say 'thank you' to the team, because this weekend they worked for the win. We will try to be the best and we'll try to work in a good way. We don't want to lose the concentration, because we don't know what will happen in Malaysia, but for sure the level of motivation will be high after this weekend."
Valentino Rossi - Position: 6th – Championship: 3rd – Points: 195
"Unfortunately from the first lap I already started to slide a bit too much on acceleration. I lost some grip compared to yesterday and this morning. It's a shame because for sure we wanted to try to do better. I tried to ride smoothly and manage the tyres, but unfortunately after 15 laps I was in trouble, because when exiting left corners I had too much spin. We need to understand why this happened and then try to improve, but having Maverick win a race is good news for the team and Yamaha, because it gives great motivation."
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"What a thrilling and dramatic race! Maverick is always strong at the Phillip Island circuit, and he once again outdid himself in Australia today. He really deserved the victory, because he had been strong the entire weekend. It's a great feeling for the team to secure a win again - we have all been working so hard for this. It's not just us who have been waiting, but also our fans, so this is as much for them as it is for us. It was a pity that Vale wasn't able to join the podium, because he was showing great potential for the majority of the race. It would have been great to have him up there too. He and his crew have also been pushing to the maximum, but sixth place was really the best he could do today due to tyre wear at the end of the race. Overall this weekend has been a great moral boost, because both riders were competitive, so we're all looking forward to the next round, the Grand Prix of Malaysia, in just a week's time."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Duo Shows Great Potential but Stays Without Rewards in Australia
After Hafizh Syahrin was able to secure his best ever starting spot on the MotoGP grid, the Malaysian rookie started the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in a decent way, but concluded the first lap just in 13th. On the second lap of the race, he was even faster than the front and thereby, made up one position after another. In the sixth lap he reached 8th and was set to bring home what could have been his best premier class result yet, but unfortunately crashed out after 19 of 27 laps of the race.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Johann Zarco came off the line well, following his second consecutive front row start, but got stuck in traffic during the first lap, which saw him returning in ninth position. The fast Frenchman fought hard within the leading group and made up ground step by step. While trying to pass Marc Marquez, he went too hot into the first corner, which unluckily brought his race to an early conclusion.
Hafizh Syahrin - Position: DNF – Championship: 18th– Points: 34
"Until lap 19 I had a good race. I just lost the front because I tried to close again on Miller. In the straight it is just impossible, as the Ducati just passes very easily. The guys and myself, we are already working very hard with our package, which is a bit different to the rest of the Yamahas. I was fighting with the faster group in the front, but it was just technically impossible to keep up with them, although I was pushing very hard. It's a great pity to crash on the 19th lap. Anyway, we keep pushing, working hard and believing in ourselves because my team and me work very hard to be strong in the race. We tried to use our speed for a good result, but in the end we didn't have a chance to fight with the rest of the riders in front."
Johann Zarco - Position: DNF – Championship: 7th – Points: 133
"It was a bit cold today, but the sunshine made it a nice day. Starting from third position was a good advantage. I got a good start, but in the second corner I slide with the rear and a few guys had the same, I lost a few positions, but then I was really feeling quite ok to attack and try to overtake. I'm happy about the feeling that I was strong and did some good passes. After a few laps, I was still feeling pretty good, I got the slipstream of Jack Miller and Marc Marquez was also there. We were going so fast and when we were braking for corner one, I touched the rear wheel of Marc and totally flew away. I had a big crash, but I'm okay, which is the most important thing, as that crash was really fast It's a shame about the race, because finish the race would have been important for the independent riders' championship, but I didn't. The crash was big and I am sorry that Marc could not finish the race. Thank you to my team, because the bike was competitive today! I did a mistake and I need to make up for it on the next two rounds."
Hervé Poncharal - Monster Yamaha Tech3 - Team Manager
"There are some days you wish what you see is a dream - or rather a nightmare. But unfortunately, what we saw today was reality. We had high hopes with a great Qualifying from both of our riders, Johann on the front row and Hafizh with his best ever Qualifying in 10th. The start was difficult as usual, it was a big pack as we saw in the other two classes and clearly, Johann was trying to find his way through the field after a bit hectic lap one. We could see that he was really fast and I think he wanted to use the advantage of the soft-soft choice he had made for front and rear and that was quite intense until that incident, which was unbelievable. When you see a rider going down at such a high speed - I think he touched the ground at 280 km/h - for the few seconds following the incident, you just hope nothing bad will happen. Johann had a really good reflex and although his bottom is quite sore, he was strong to walk back to the garage and be still fully fit and ready to race the next round. That was a big thing. Unfortunate for the fans and the racing overall, Marc and Johann were out of the race, which made it less exciting. So, our focus went on Hafizh, who was behind the leading group until he slowly lost the contact. But he was still holding on a good eighth position and we were quite happy because although he was loosing ground he was still keeping a good pace and he crashed without any warning, without really understanding why. That was the end of our weekend. Both of our riders could have been really strong and both of them get no points, which is a big disappointment. I know you always have to keep up the 'never-give-up-attitude', but today it is hard, also with Remy in the Moto2 class. The only good thing is, our riders are fit, ok and we have a race next week."