A perfectly sunny race day at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) delivered nothing short of a sensational Grand Prix of The Americas. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi put his heart and soul into today’s race and only just missed out on the victory, taking 2nd position. Maverick Viñales had an equally competitive race pace, but a ride through penalty after a jump start cost him valuable time and places. Still the Spaniard kept going, cutting through the rider pack all the way back up to 11th place.
Rossi rushed off the line, dashing towards the tight left first corner, just like he planned. He knew that if he wanted to challenge for the win today, he would have to push 100% right from the very start. He was doing a superb job to block Cal Crutchlow, whilst chasing Marc Márquez.
With 15 laps to go, The Doctor got a bit of breathing space as Crutchlow crashed out. At the time Márquez was almost 3s ahead of him, but the Italian never gave up. He searched for the perfect balance between keeping the pressure on and managing his tyres, and it paid off. Márquez crashed out with 12 laps to go, giving Yamaha the lead in the race.
The events also spurred on the chasing Álex Rins, but Rossi managed the gap until, with five laps to go, the battle for the victory was on. Rins came through a lap later. The veteran tried to retaliate, using a block pass, but it was unsuccessful and resulted in 0.5s gap. The number 46 rider was making a great attempt to undo the damage, inching closer, but he ran wide with two laps to go, meaning he had to do the work all over again. He wasn’t giving up, though. In the last lap Rossi managed to make up a lot of time and was looking threatening behind Rins in the final sector, but ultimately he came just 0.462s short as they crossed the finish line.
Viñales held firm at the start of Round 3, defending his P6 going into turn 1. He battled with Andrea Dovizioso and crossed the line for the first time in seventh place. With 17 laps to go, Viñales had to let Franco Morbidelli past, and more bad news was on the horizon as he was given a ride through penalty for a jump start.
A moment of confusion lost him 4s and five places, as he unnecessarily took the long-lap penalty lane. He completed the ride through penalty in pit lane on the next lap, which moved him even further back, to 19th place.
Though down the order, the Spaniard wasn’t out for the count. He soon flashed a red sector and started to climb up the ranking again. Whilst various riders retired from the race, he passed Hafizh Syahrin and found himself in P16, nearly back into the points and lapping more than 1s quicker than a group of nine riders ahead of him. He soon gained two more places, closed an almost 4s gap, took another two positions, closed a 5s gap, and overtook yet another rider to salvage an 11th place finish, 34.077s from first.
Today’s results see Rossi climb to 2nd position in the championship standings with a 3-point gap to first. Viñales is now in 12th place, with a 40-point margin to the top. Yamaha is joint second in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is also second in the team classifications.
The team will be back in action in three weeks’ time, when the MotoGP paddock embarks upon the European leg of the championship, starting with the Spanish GP, held at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto.