Vinales wins; Heartbreak for Rossi fans

By | May 21, 2017

Le Mans, 21 May 2017: Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales delivered a stunning performance at the Grand Prix de France, taking his third victory of the season and the 500th Grand Prix win for Yamaha. Teammate Valentino Rossi also rode a brilliant race at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit and had the crowds on their feet as he stormed to the front, but an unfortunate crash on the last lap meant an end to his challenge.

Repsol Honda adds: Today Dani Pedrosa scored his third consecutive podium finish after starting the French GP fr

Maverick Vinales celebrates after winning at Le Mans on Sunday. A Movistar Yamaha image

om the 13th spot on the grid and making a great comeback to finish third  in front of over 104,000 spectators, a new record for the Le Mans event. The last time Dani was in the top three for three consecutive races was in 2014 (Catalunya, Assen, Sachsenring). He is now third on the list of most career podium finishes with 147, behind Agostini (159) and Rossi (224).

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Maverick Viñales came out fighting, dominating the MotoGP field to take a sensational victory at the Grand Prix de France, sealing Yamaha‘s 500th Grand Prix win. Valentino Rossi also showed a blistering pace in the French sunshine at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. He was scrapping with his teammate in an epic podium battle for the win, but suffered an unlucky fall on the last lap.

Viñales was strong right from the beginning of the 28-lap French round. Starting from pole, he flew off the line to take the holeshot and slotted into second as he dived into turn 3, behind Johann Zarco. The Spaniard was on the case, shadowed by his teammate. With 22 laps Viñales made a textbook move on the satellite Yamaha rookie to take over the lead.

Now at the front, the Spaniard put the hammer down. He did everything in his power to escape from Zarco. He managed his pace to perfection and made sure he held on to his P1 position until he got in a fierce battle with a rapidly approaching Rossi, but the number 25 rider held firm. He was leading on the last lap, when the Doctor crashed out of the race, allowing him to bring his YZR-M1 over the finish line, 3.134s ahead of his closest rival.

Teammate Rossi had a good start from second on the grid and put his Yamaha in fourth position behind Marc Marquez after the first couple of corners, only to pass the Spaniard a few turns later. With Viñales in front of him, the Movistar Yamaha men rode in tandem as they chased the leader of the race.

Outbraking himself with 16 laps to go, the Italian lost some time, which left him within the grasp of Marquez. The Doctor responded quickly to the situation and upped his pace as the Spaniard crashed out of the race, allowing Rossi to focus on the battle in front. With five laps to go, he overtook Zarco for second place, making it a perfect Movistar Yamaha 1-2, but the nine-time World Champion was hungry for more.

He planned an attack on Viñales on lap 26 and had the fans cheer when he hit the front, but it wasn‘t to last. His teammate slipped back past him as the scrap continued and with the pace as hot as today‘s, a small mistake from Rossi on the last lap prohibited him from reaching the finish line after a hard-fought battle.

Viñales‘ first place earns him 25 points. This puts him on 85 points and in the lead in the championship standings, 23 points ahead of Rossi in third place. The 500th Grand Prix win also sees the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Teamhold the lead in the Team standings by 21 points, with a total of 147 points, whilst Yamaha remains the top manufacturer in the Constructor’s Championship by a 13 point margin, with 108 points.

The MotoGP paddock will next hit the Gran Premio d’Italia at the Autodromo del Mugello in two weeks‘ time.

Massimo Meregalli

Today it looked like we were going to have a dream scenario with a Yamaha 1-2-3, but unfortunately it wasn‘t to be. Still, we take great pride in this Grand Prix weekend’s performances. Yamaha has reached the 500th Grand Prix milestone, which is a very special occasion, and the manner in which it was done further underlines how successful Yamaha is in Grand Prix racing. Maverick‘s incredible focus, dedication and speed prevailed in a tension-filled race, leading to his third Grand Prix victory of the season. For sure it would be nice to have had Vale on the podium, but the tiny mistake on the last lap robbed him of that moment. Even so, it‘s been a proud day for the ’Yamaha family‘: the way Vale fought today made the French Grand Prix a great show and made it a race to remember. We hope many more exciting races like today‘s are in our future as we continue to strive for top results over the rest of the season.

Maverick Vinales

Keeping up with Johann in the early laps of the race was hard, he was really fast and with the full tank we were not so strong as him. He was exiting from the corners really good and really fast. Then his tyre started to drop a little bit and our tyre started to work good on the rear, and lap by lap I was feeling better. Until the end, in the last lap, I gave everything I had here in the French GP and, honestly, I’m so happy and so pleased. The team was working on an incredible level this weekend, I hope we can continue like that. For sure the tyres were working really good here, we hope we can work like this also in Mugello.

Valentino Rossi

It was a great shame, because for my team it was the best weekend of the season, where I was more competitive on the track, also in the wet, but especially in the race. For sure, for me this could have been the best result of the season. It was very difficult because the pace was always very high, but at the end I felt comfortable on the bike, I had a good feeling, so I tried to attack. Unfortunately, on the last lap I made a mistake in turn 6 and I fell back a little, so Maverick could overtake me. I knew I had another chance, because we were very close and I tried to remain there, because in sector 4 I was good. Sincerely, what happened during the crash, we don’t understand. Usually you have to pay attention to the front, but I lost the rear when I crashed. Anyway, I made a mistake, and it’s like this. It is a great shame to go back home with zero points. First of all, I’m very sorry for missing out on the probable victory and also for losing the lead in the championship, because I lost points. For me, it still has been a good weekend, I was strong. Now we have to start thinking about the next race track, I hope to ride there like I did this weekend. We hope to continue like this.

eom/Yamaha press release