The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team are celebrating their second victory of the season today, as Maverick Viñales returned to the top step of the podium with a flawless race at the Sepang International Circuit. Valentino Rossi was also a strong contender, showing solid pace in the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. He put up a fight for third place and crossed the line in fourth.
Viñales did exactly what he had planned yesterday. He had a good start, hung on in second place through the first corners and soon battled his way to the front. Once he hit the number-one spot, the Spaniard was off and gradually built a solid lead of 1.5s.
The number-12 rider's campaign was all about focus. Riding on his own in the hot and humid Sepang conditions, he had to remain fully concentrated as he set the pace and managed the gap to Marc Marquez in second place. Viñales didn't put a foot wrong all race and took a text-book victory, with a 3.059s advantage over second.
The Yamaha rider dedicated the win to the late Indonesian rider Afridza Munandar, who was his favourite in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup. Yamaha once again extend their sincere condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Munandar.
Rossi was hyping up the fans from the grid before the start and gave them more to cheer about during the race. He was in a busy part of the pack, starting from sixth, and emerged from the first corners in ninth place. He didn't stay there for long though. The Doctor carried some serious early race pace and went in swinging, taking just seven laps before he overtook Miller in Turn 9 for fourth.
With eight laps to go, the Italian started to ask questions from Andrea Dovizioso in third place. With Álex Rins approaching and three laps to go, Rossi was trying to make moves on the rider in front of him but wasn't quite able to make it is stick. He finished in fourth place, 5.965s from first.
Viñales’ brilliant win moves him up to third place in the championship standings. Rossi holds seventh in the overall rankings, six points behind the rider in sixth place. 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 now enjoy a week's rest after three consecutive GPs, before they return to action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo for the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, held from November 14th – 17th.
“What a superb win! Maverick has been strong all weekend, and his confidence was really high, but he had quite the task ahead of him. Breaking away from the rider field early on was his strategy from the start, but it’s never easy. He executed it perfectly though. His riding was outstanding during the whole race, and to take the win by such a distance is incredibly rewarding. It’s well-deserved for both him and the team. They have been working non-stop these last few weeks. This victory tastes even sweeter after he came so close last weekend, and it moves him up to third in the championship standings, which is a nice extra benefit. The only thing that could have made this day even better was if Vale would have been able to get a place on the podium too. He came so close to third place but just missed out because of the lack of top speed. Anyway, he rode a very solid race and definitely didn’t stop trying. It was good to see him keep up his pace without too much trouble with tyre degradation, even if fourth place was the maximum result for him today. This weekend has been a great moral boost, because both riders were competitive. We now get to rest a bit before we go to Spain for the final round of the season in Valencia in two weeks’ time, where we hope to put on a good show again!”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“It was an incredible race. We prepared for the race really well all weekend. I felt I had a big potential after the first lap. I took the lead after the first two splits and I kept pushing, pushing, and pushing. Honestly, I'm so happy. We did a good job. What a shame in Australia, because that was a race where I felt I had a lot of potential too, but being in first place here is amazing. I would like to dedicate this race to Munandar, the kid that passed away yesterday. He was my favourite in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup. I offer my condolences to all the family.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“I had a good start, but then on the first straight some riders overtook me. After that I was very competitive. I managed to set the fastest race lap, a new track record, and made several overtakes, until I got close to Dovizioso. Together with Dovizioso we had a good fight. It was very nice. I was a little better in the twisty parts of the track, but Dovizioso was faster on the straights. I hoped that I could be quicker on the last laps, but I couldn't. We are faster in the turns, but it is also true that we stress the tyres more when we are cornering. So, at the end I wasn't as fast as I was at the beginning, but I'm happy because the degradation was less than usual. At the end I'm satisfied, because during this weekend I rode well, and I learned a few things. We are making improvements, trying to use all the potential of the M1. At the end I managed to keep off Rins, but I'm very sorry because I didn't make the podium, then I would have been even happier. Now we will do our best in Valencia.”