The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team went through highs and lows in today's 27-lap race. Valentino Rossi had a supersonic start from fourth on the grid and grabbed the hole shot but was later pushed back to tenth position to ultimately finish in eighth. Maverick Viñales was in the lead for the majority of the race but crashed out during a last-lap duel for the victory.
Rossi couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to his 400th Grand Prix. Nobody had seen him coming from fourth on the grid, yet he blasted past the opposition around the outside as they turned into the first corner. He had an over 0.6s gap after the second sector but wasn’t able to maintain it. Once the field caught up with him, the Doctor gradually fell back to eighth. However, he wasn’t out for the count yet.
Halfway through the race the Italian was back in fourth position as the leader of the second group of riders, but he struggled to inch closer to the front group and soon a threat came from behind. Rossi got involved in the group battle again in the second half of the race and found himself in eighth position across the finish line, 15.841s from first.
Viñales started from pole but got swallowed up by the field in the first corner. The Spaniard settled into sixth position and gradually made his way up again. He overtook two riders, including his team-mate who had led the opening laps, to get to fourth. Next on his list were Andrea Iannone, Marc Marquez, and Cal Crutchlow. One by one the Yamaha rider steadily picked them off. On lap 10 he hit the lead for the first time, with Marquez on his heels.
The number-12 rider held firm, maintaining his P1 spot until the start of the very last lap. Forced to let his rival pass him on the long straight before going into Turn 1, Viñales was pushing to the limit to fight back. Marquez was unable to shake him off, but Top Gun Maverick couldn’t find a way through. Then drama struck in the final sector, when he suffered a high-speed crash. He was able to walk away from the incident without any injuries but ended the race with an NC score.
Viñales remains in fourth place in the championship standings, 7 points from the rider in third place. Rossi holds seventh in the overall rankings, 23 points behind his team-mate. Yamaha maintains third position in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also stay in third place in the team classification.
The team will resume the MotoGP action at the Sepang International Circuit next weekend for the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, held from November 1st – 3rd.
“This is not the ending we had expected to an otherwise good weekend. Vale had a strong start but wasn’t able to match the pace of the race leaders throughout the 27 laps. Though he experienced a tyre drop and a difference in top-speed didn't help him to defend his position, he did make a step this week and was able to put up a fight. He finished in eighth place and was actually not far off third. Maverick had a different experience. He fell back in Turn 1 at the start but battled hard and led the race from lap 10 until the last lap. It was very unfortunate that he crashed, because his superb form this weekend deserved a reward, but it wasn’t to be. Luckily, he wasn't injured. These things happen when you’re riding on the limit, fighting for the victory on the very last lap. On a positive note, we take away from this race that we have been competitive in all sorts of weather and track conditions. Now we look forward to giving our all again next weekend in Malaysia, the last GP of the triple-header before the final round in Valencia.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“It was a great start and a very good way to celebrate my 400th Grand Prix, being able to be in front for a bit. In the end, the race result for sure isn’t fantastic, but I was not so far behind Jack Miller, who arrived on the podium, and I was able to ride in a better way and was more competitive compared to the previous weekend. Anyway, we need more, and we need to be stronger. We need to work, and we’ll see. Racing at the Phillip Island track is always great, but in the end it was a hard battle.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“I started the last lap much tighter to the curb to have the chance, if Marc would overtake at the last moment, to brake later. But he overtook me before the finish line. Then I was planning to push to the maximum in sector 3 to overtake in Turn 10, and that's what I did. So, before I crashed, I was ready to go in without braking to see what would happen, but I locked the rear. Maybe I made a mistake, I don't know, and then I just fell down on the other side. Today was a race to win, not to be second. I had the chance, so I tried. Anyway, for me it was a very positive race, I crashed but I was satisfied. I gave my best on every lap and the bike was working in a really good way.”