Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales pushed to the max during today’s Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, putting on a brave ride from 11th on the grid to 4th position over the finish line. Valentino Rossi had a heroic run at the Sepang International Circuit, but it ended in heartbreak on lap 17 when he crashed out of the lead. He was able to rejoin the race and took the chequered flag in 18th place.
Viñales started from 11th on the grid and soon found himself in 10th position. After warming up his tyres on the first two laps, he began his charge. His pace was as strong as the front group, meaning he had no problems cutting through the field, though there was a lot of ground to be made up.
With nine laps to go he took over sixth place from Andrea Dovizioso. The Spaniard didn’t waste any time to also pass Dani Pedrosa. He was trying to close the gap to Álex Rins but was unable to catch him. As his teammate at the front made a small mistake, Viñales crossed the line in fourth place, 4.667s from first.
Rossi had a perfect start from second, taking the hole shot and holding the lead superbly. He had a stunning consistent pace that allowed him to make a clean getaway from his pursuers.
Though his advantage went up and down over the first half of the race, there was no one who could really reach Rossi at the front, let alone make an attempt at passing the nine-time World Champion. However, in the final ten laps the heat and the tyre degradation meant Marc Márquez was closing in.
The Doctor responded by picking up the pace and defended his first place brilliantly, but a small mishap in Turn 1 on lap 17 caused him to slide down the tarmac. He was able to rejoin the race in 18th place and finished in the same position, 58.288s from first.
Today’s results see Rossi hold on to third position in the championship standings with a 25-point gap to second. Viñales, in fourth place, reduced the gap to his teammate to 2 points. Yamaha is still in third place in the Constructor Championship after the race in Malaysia, with a 38-point margin to second, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team remain in second position in the team standings, with now a 39-point gap to first.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in two weeks’ time for the final showdown of 2018, the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, held from November 16th – 18th.