Dramatic French GP ends in 10th for Viñales as Rossi crashes out
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales showed great character in today‘s drama-filled Grand Prix de France, recovering from a provisional 20th place to take tenth at the chequered flag. Valentino Rossi‘s luckless streak continued in Le Mans. He suffered a crash on lap 1, ending his challenge prematurely.
Drama started early on in the French GP, when five minutes before the start the heavens opened. This started the Rain on Grid Procedure, allowing the riders to return to the pit box. A Quick Start Procedure followed at 13:05, with the pit-lane exit opened for only 60 seconds ahead of the sighting lap. The race was declared wet and shortened by one lap to 26 laps in total.
Viñales began his 100th premier class Grand Prix with a less than ideal start from P5 on the grid. Matters were made worse when he had to make an evasive manoeuvre to avoid the chaos that ensued in Turn 3 when his team-mate took a fall in the middle of the track.
The Spaniard ended the first lap in 20th position, but all was not lost. With relentless focus he rode a faultless race, despite the tricky conditions, and gradually moved up the order. In the final five laps he was part of a group of four riders fighting for eighth place. The Yamaha man pushed to the max and finished in tenth place, 16.895s from first.
Rossi started from tenth on the grid. He had a good start but found himself in the busy mid-pack in Turn 3 when disaster struck. The Italian got caught out by the slippery track conditions and crashed. He was quickly back up on his feet and tried all he could to get his bike restarted but was unable to rejoin the race.
After today‘s race Viñales is fourth in the championship rankings, 19 points from the top. Rossi drops to thirteenth place, with a 57-point gap to first. Yamaha remains first in the constructor standings, but the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team lost a place in the team classification and are now fourth.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will next travel to Spain for the Gran Premio Michelin de Aragón, held from 16 – 18 October at the MotorLand Aragón track.
I tried something different on the start, but it didn‘t work. I tried to start on my own, without electronics. During the weekend this went really well, I started very fast. But then during today’s race, with all the noise coming from the other bikes on the grid, I couldn’t hear my bike and wasn’t able to be precise. So, for the next race we will go back to electronics and try to improve starting that way. I hope the bad luck is finished, because in the first corners I got involved in Vale‘s accident. To avoid the crash I had to go straight, and I was last. Then I started to fight a lot with the other riders, but I couldn‘t find a good rhythm. But in the end we were fast. I‘m happy that the bike was working well in the wet. Usually we struggle a little bit. It was a shame the race wasn‘t one lap longer, because I was catching up with Fabio one second per lap. But it is like this and we need to feel positive, because somehow we saved a little bit of the race. We only lose one point in the championship to the leader. This is important. Next race is for sure going to be much better. Aragón is a track that I really like, and I will go for everything there.
It was a great shame, because a crash like this on the first corners is easily done in half-and-half conditions. You don’t understand your potential yet, if you’re fast with the bike, how you’re feeling with the bike – nothing. But I started well, and I was already in a good position. I entered the second corner very slowly, like everyone else. We were all taking it easy, because these were very difficult conditions. It was very cold with the rain. Unfortunately I lost the rear. It’s a shame and I’m also a bit unlucky in this period, because we didn’t take any points in these last three races, whilst my speed and potential weren’t so bad. So, we need to try again next week in Aragón, and we will see.