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Movistar Yamaha Race to Hard-fought Fourth and Heroic Fifth Place in Aragon

Race

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales was on the move today at the final stages of the sunny Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. The Spaniard gradually increased his pace to take fourth place in the last part of the race. Teammate Valentino Rossi, opted for the opposite strategy. The Italian had a superb ride as he threatened to take the lead in the early race laps, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury, before settling into fifth place, which he held over the line.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales was on the move today at the final stages of the sunny Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. The Spaniard gradually increased his pace to take fourth place in the last part of the race. Teammate Valentino Rossi, opted for the opposite strategy. The Italian had a superb ride as he threatened to take the lead in the early race laps, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury, before settling into fifth place, which he held over the line.

Viñales had a less than perfect start on the short drive-up to the first corner, but he recovered quickly, slotting into second place. However, he had to let Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez pass him on the first couple of laps of the race as he was struggling to find grip.

The third lap of the race was a turning point for the Spaniard; he got into a good rhythm and steadily started to catch up with the men in front of him. On the final six laps, when he began to press forward, he first took fifth place from Dovizioso and then proceeded to take on his teammate.

The youngster was insistent, but Rossi wasn’t going to hand over fourth place easily. A close fight between the two Factory Yamahas had the fans on the edge of their seats. With three laps to go, Viñales successfully passed the nine-time World Champion, but the gap to the top-3 was too large for him to close in the final laps. He crossed the finish line in fourth place, 5.256s from first.

Rossi had the crowds rooting for him during his first race since his enduro accident. Though he had a difficult launch from his starting position, he held on to his third place going into turn 1. Seeing Jorge Lorenzo trying to take off at the front on the first lap, the Doctor wasn’t about to waste any time and responded by passing his teammate a couple of corners later. He set a provisional fastest lap on lap 2 of 1’49.334s as he chased down his rival, and soon closed the gap.

Despite riding with a leg injury, Rossi was pushing to the fullest. The top-4 riders bunched up as the Italian started to pressure Lorenzo, but he was unable to make a move whilst fending off Marquez and Dovizioso.

With 11 laps to go, fatigue had the number 46 rider slow down a couple of tenths, allowing Marquez and Dani Pedrosa through, but he still had some fighting spirit left. He had the fans hold their breath as he battled hard with his teammate for fourth position, but ultimately took the chequered flag in fifth place, 5.882s from the front.

Today’s results see Viñales remain in third place in the championship with 196 points, 28 from the top of the standings. Despite his brave ride, Rossi dropped one position to fifth in the rankings, with 168 points. In the Constructor Championship, Yamaha is in second place with a 17-point margin to first, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team must breach a 30-point margin to jump up from second to first in the Team Championship.

The Yamaha Factory Racing Team will travel to Asia next, to take part in the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi track in three weeks’ time, which will be the manufacturer’s home race.

Maverick Viñales
Position: 4th – Championship: 3rd – Points: 183

“The hard tyre was working really badly for us, especially on the first laps, but then it was working quite well at the end. Not so much in terms of grip, but it was improving lap by lap, but anyway it wasn’t enough. Folger used the medium tyre and said he had no grip, so it was really difficult to understand which tyre we could use. For other races it was quite clear, because we were able to do many laps on the tyres so we knew which way to go, but here it was very difficult. I tried to use the same tyre as the opponents. Normally Valentino has a good feeling with the tyres and pushes on the hard option. For the next races we will have to work even harder on the Friday. It’s important to keep pushing and working and keep our motivation high. We have to work even harder, though it’s difficult, and we’ll go to Japan to improve and we’ll try to be stronger.”

Valentino Rossi
Position: 5th – Championship: 4th – Points: 157

“I’m quite proud, because a week ago I didn’t know if I would be able to race. Achieving a start from the first row yesterday was already great, I was very happy. I knew I had to suffer in the second half of the race. I had some pain and we also suffered from the degradation of the tyre. The work continues after this race. The calendar works out well for me, I have two full weeks to train and improve my leg’s condition. After this we have Motegi, which is going to be very important, but we also have three races in a row. This will be very difficult for my leg, so I want to try to arrive in Motegi – maybe not at 100% – but quite fit.”

Massimo Meregalli
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director

“The tyre choice played a big role in the outcome of today’s race. We only had limited time to try the different specs on the dry this weekend, so this made the decision quite difficult. Both riders decided to use the hard rear tyre option for durability reasons. Though they managed the tyre life by trying to ride as smoothly as possible, in the end the tyres still dropped. Furthermore, Maverick had difficulties getting heat into the tyre at the beginning. It was unfortunate that, by the time the tyre started working better, the gap had become too big for him to close, but I think we all got a thrill from his fight with Valentino. It is fantastic to see Vale already battling at the front in the race, just 24 days after his accident. He did a truly amazing job today and has consistently exceeded our expectations throughout the weekend. We look forward to seeing him race again in Motegi, when he has had time to further recover from his leg injury.”

Zarco Concludes Aragon Battle in 9th – Solid Performance by Folger

Johann Zarco’s strong effort at the gruelling Aragon Grand Prix earned him a 9th place finish today under the scorching Spanish sun. The French star leapt forward from 11th and he immediately set into a formidable and consistent pace. The rookie eventually concluded the race inside the top ten to maintain his position as the leading independent rider in the championship. The result also saw him extend his 100% point scoring record since the opening round.

Meanwhile, Jonas Folger closed the challenging weekend with a hard-fought ride to 16th. The young German, who started his 150th Grand Prix today, began from the sixth row and pushed throughout the 23-lap sprint. He delivered a late charge to get to 16th, having moved up six places since the end of the first lap.

Johann Zarco
Position: 9th – Championship: 6th – Points: 117

“The result is quite good, however, I expected to be stronger in the race with the used tyres, but eventually my opponents were fast too. I got a solid start yet the first few laps were a bit difficult. I tried my best to overtake but in the end, it was not the right opportunity and I lost a lot of positions because I almost crashed. After that, I got a solid feeling but I was limited by the front. This was not because of the tyre because even if it was a soft front, the technicians said that the rubber looked ok after the race. So it means that if I was limited, it was possible that the bike’s balance was not as perfect as I needed it to be to get close to the front. Nevertheless, I am happy about the race and it was another experience, plus good for the championship. I tried to do my best but to finish only 13 seconds back from the top guys is not so far. However, I missed something to stay with this leading group because when they overtook Kallio, they opened a gap and I don’t think I was strong enough then. Anyway, I will learn from it and I need to understand how to use this to be more competitive in the future. I want to improve myself so that I can set the bike up and provide the right information, and also be effective with the team so they can give me the fantastic feeling that you can usually have with the Yamaha.”

Jonas Folger
Position: 16th – Championship: 10th – Points: 84

“We are all disappointed about the race because I am aiming to stay inside the top ten in the championship and I am fighting against some really fast riders but now we are struggling and finishing in 16th is a shame. I have to get my confidence back and use the two weeks off to rest myself so I can get mentally fresh in order to be better on the bike. We have to look at the championship and I am 14 points ahead of the next rider in the standings, but the target is to get into the top ten. However, I need to be freer when riding just like at the beginning of the year. The issues and the crashes, as well as the points we have lost in the last few rounds, leaves us a bit frustrated and we want to be better. So now I will take it easy because if you try too hard it doesn’t work. I’m sure I will come back refreshed and ready for the action.”

Hervé Poncharal
Monster Yamaha Tech3 – Team Manager

“It was a tough weekend in Aragon but I believe that the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team did a great job. We had rain, fog and heat yet, Johann Zarco did very well as usual. It’s not easy for a rookie on this circuit and although he had a crash in FP3, which prevented us from getting into the top ten, he worked really hard for the race in FP4. Johann showed great determination to get into Q2 and despite the fact that the grid position was far from ideal, we knew that he could run a strong rhythm. The start was average and by the end of the first lap he was in 11th, but from that moment, our rider showed remarkable pace and was very consistent. I think every lap was within a second of each other and he was catching a few guys ahead of him before he finished 9th. This was a great reward for the hard work and it consolidates his position as the leading rookie in the championship and also as the top independent rider. Some of his strong rivals didn’t score any points today, which was beneficial for us, especially after the huge disappointment at the last round in Italy. In my opinion, at every event, Johann is showing his level, quality, determination and his efforts are paying off, plus he is one of the hardest working people in this paddock. On the other side of the garage, it was a tough weekend for Jonas. Unfortunately, he never felt really good on the bike and the strange crash in FP3 hurt his neck. There was no real damage but it bothered him. Jonas was quite far down the order on the grid and I don’t think he had much confidence in the early part of the GP because his pace wasn’t as quick as it could be. Let’s not forget that he was on the podium in Germany and he set the fastest lap of the race in Sachsenring and Catalunya. The second half was a bit better today but it was still not close to his level. However, the team and I know his potential so let’s hope that he has a few days off to rest and then mentally understand what is not working. We need two riders and we know that Jonas can be challenging Johann, which is what we want to see as a team. His crew will do everything that they can to give him the confidence and the feeling back and we are all behind him.”

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