The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team were unlucky to see both their riders crash out of promising positions at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, after brave efforts of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales in torrential rain. Rossi gave an incredibly impressive performance at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo, riding from 16th to 3rd place in the first race, which was red flagged after 13 laps. During the restart he was set to take 2nd position until a crash at Turn 12 meant the end of his challenge. Earlier on in the first race, pole-setter Viñales also suffered an unfortunate premature halt to his strong pursuit of a podium finish. As his crash happened on lap 12, and the shortened second race’s grid positions were based on the standings at the start of lap 13, he was unable to join the rematch.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team were unlucky to score just three points at the Grand Prix of Valencia today, despite both riders showing a very impressive pace in the wet.
Valentino Rossi had a brilliant start from 16th place at the Valencia Grand Prix, gaining five positions in the first corner alone. Perfectly adapting to the truly wet conditions, he cut through the field and was already in seventh place just two laps into the race.
By overtaking his teammate and with several rivals crashing ahead of him, he found himself in third place just four laps later. The potential podium only made him more hungry for the lead. He pushed hard and closed an over 7s gap to the front in less than seven laps to challenge the front runners, but at the start of lap 14 the race was red flagged due to track conditions.
The Valencia GP resumed with a quick restart procedure at 15:00 local track time (GMT+1). The race would be run over 14 laps, with the starting grid based on the standings as of lap 13, putting the Doctor in third place on the grid.
The Italian had a strong start to the sprint. He firmly held his third position through the first corners, but just as he was about to commence his attack in the second half of the second lap, the rain came bucketing down again. Still, he put the pressure on Álex Rins and made his move on lap 7 to snatch second, and he kept pushing. However, he fell victim to the treacherous conditions three laps later, in Turn 12. Still, the Yamaha rider didn’t give up. He ran back to his bike and rejoined in 13th position, which he held until the chequered flag came out.
Maverick Viñales started the race from pole and as such had the difficult task of judging where the limits were on the slippery track in the opening lap. Not taking too many risks, he entered the first corner in second place and had to let another contender pass as he got a feel for the conditions.
Though he put up a fight on the first lap, he lost some ground after that and was lapping in eighth place on lap 5, behind his teammate. Together they started to shoot up the ranking order, and the Spaniard got a taste for the hunt by lap 11, clocking his fastest lap of the race. However, just a few moments later his venture came to an early halt when he suffered a sudden high-speed crash. Thankfully he was unharmed, but he was unable to join the restart, as he crashed before the end of lap 12.
Today’s results see Rossi hold on to third position in the championship standings. Viñales finished the 2018 season in fourth place. Yamaha came third in the Constructor Championship, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team is also third in the team standings.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Valencian Ricardo Tormo circuit on Tuesday for the first Official IRTA test of the 2019 pre-season.
“The feeling was very bad, because the conditions were tricky with four laps to go. We needed this result for my team and Yamaha, to finish the season in a nice way, but unfortunately I made a mistake. It’s a great shame. It was a very similar crash to the one in Malaysia. We don’t understand very well what happened. Maybe at the end we need to pay more attention. Still, it remained a good performance. Until that moment I enjoyed it, because I was strong, and I remained in third place in the championship, which is important.”
“After the crash, I feel OK. I have no big injuries, only some pain in my shoulder. Anyway, it’s been difficult, because I had a technical problem that didn‘t allow me to be faster at the start of the race. But then I concentrated so well, and I tried to ride very fast. I risked a lot, because for the championship I just needed to be in front of Valentino and he was riding really fast. It was a pity I had this issue, because without it, I would have been at the front fighting with Álex and Dovi. Anyway, we have to be happy that this is the third wet race where we are challenging at the front. I came back very strong from towards the back. Honestly, I’m happy the last five races have been so good. I was consistent and I felt very confident. We understand the bike and found out in which direction we needed to go, and we regained our confidence, so that’s something to take away from 2018. It’s important to understand what happened at the beginning of the season, so we can be smart and don’t make the same mistakes. Now it’s important to try the engines during the upcoming test, but I’m very happy with Yamaha. We are excited to start and I’m very motivated!”
Team Director Massimo Meregalli:
“It’s disappointing to end both the race weekend and the season in this manner, especially considering how well Valentino and Maverick were riding in the first race. After this morning’s Warm Up, we knew that Vale had a good chance to be competitive at the front, even though he had to start from 16th on the grid. To me his riding was super impressive – he was fighting for the lead! But then the red flags came out, so that meant he had to start from third. He was again strong in the restart, so it’s a great shame that he didn’t get the result today that matched his pace and also his efforts. Maverick was very unlucky in the first race. He managed to ride around the problems a technical issue was giving him and was competing in fourth place. Had just set a new personal best lap when he crashed at very high speed. Of course, the first priority is that he’s OK, and we’re glad that he didn’t sustain any major injuries. However, it was a pity that he crashed during lap 12 and the restarting grid was based on the results as of the start of lap 13. Clearly this is not the way we wanted to finish the season, but our riders really pushed hard in very difficult conditions today, so we couldn’t have asked for more. It was a difficult season overall, but towards the end we made progress, which is the direction we will continue to work in starting from the first official testing days, held this Tuesday and Wednesday.”