Maverick Viñales claims career best finish in Austin

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Maverick Viñales claimed a career best fourth position at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, insisting the podium will come soon.

The 21-year-old is widely expected to leave Suzuki at the end of this season to replace the outgoing Jorge Lorenzo and his performance in the Americas Grand Prix showed exactly why Yamaha are so hot on him.

Battling through the field after a disappointing start from the second row, Viñales eventually found himself battling with his Ecstar Suzuki team-mate Aleix Espargaro. Viñales managed to utalise his superior pace to get ahead of his team-mate, although the gap up to third place Andrea Iannone was already too big to close.

Despite having issues with the grip at the rear of his Suzuki GSX-RR, Viñales was frustrated to not convert his pace through the weekend into the podium, but after seeing the gap to the Ducati, the Spaniard decided to settle for a career best finish.

“Unfortunately we had some troubles with the grip at the rear tyre, I felt confident until almost half of the race, already thinking to be able to recover on the third place, but then the performance dropped dramatically and made the recovery impossible,” explained Viñales after the chequered flag.

“At the end I decided to take the fourth and get to the finish. The result is positive, being fourth is my best result since I’ve been in MotoGP, but after the positive weekend it is a pity that we couldn’t finalise an even better result.”

 

 

Important podium for Iannone at CoTA

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Andrea Iannone claimed his first podium of 2016 at the Circuit of the Americas last weekend, and it couldn’t have come at a better time on the back of four consecutive DNF’s. 

After the drama of Argentina seven days earlier, Iannone would’ve been hoping for a quiet race in Texas and that’s exactly what he got, finishing five seconds behind second place Jorge Lorenzo and seven seconds ahead of Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales. 

Iannone started the Grand Prix of the Americas from seventh place, serving his three position penalty for causing the crash in Termas de Rio last week, however this week he was the beneficiary of more misfortune to his team-mate. This time it was Dani Pedrosa, ironically the man who was promoted into third position after Iannone’s suicide move last week, who smashing into the side of Dovizioso this week, promoting Iannone to third place. 

With Jorge Lorenzo expected to officially announce his move to Ducati next time out in Jerez, Iannone knew it was important to finally get some points on the board in Austin. 

“It was really important for me to finish on the podium today, but more than anything else to finish this race with a good result,” said Iannone. I was sorry I was demoted one row on the grid and in addition, at the start, I made contact with Dani and Aleix and lost a few places.”

Iannone was happy with the race pace of his Desmosedici, suggesting he believes he could’ve challenged Lorenzo for second place had he not started from the third row of the grid. 

“In the race however I was very constant and always lapped with a good pace, very close to Jorge’s, and if I had started well, maybe I could even have fought it out for second place,” he said.

“In any case I am pleased with the way the GP went and I’d like to dedicate this podium to Ducati and to all the team because I made them suffer in the first two races and I hope that this result repays them for the commitment and the work that they are doing for me.”

 

Marquez delighted at extending unbeaten run at COTA

Marc Marquez was understandably very happy to extend his unbeaten run at the Circuit of the Americas after a dominant display in Austin.

Marquez came into the weekend overwhelming favourite and delivered, topping every session over the weekend bar Sunday morning’s warmup session. 

After early pressure from Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, Marquez eventually broke away from the rest of the field, on his way to claiming an unprecedented fourth victory at CotA and a tenth straight win in America, spanning over two class, three circuits and six years.

Despite his domination over the years, Marquez was still nervous going into the unknown with the Michelin tyres. 

“I’m very happy with how the whole weekend has gone. This is a circuit that I like, one of my favourite, but there were some unknowns here because just before the race we decided to run the soft front tyre,” said the 22-year-old.

“In the end the team advised me very well, because the change gave me the good feeling with the bike that I had partly lost in the warm-up. I have to thank them all, as well as the Michelin technician. When I asked, they told me that I would be okay for the first 12-15 laps, and then after that I would have to manage the situation more, which is exactly what happened.

In taking victory in Texas, Marquez has extended his World Championship lead to 21 points already after just three rounds, with the MotoGP paddock heading back to Spain for the next round in two weeks time.

“We’ve taken another victory here in Austin and are now on a run of four in a row, which is great. In addition, the joy of the team after we won illustrates everything we’re working on,” said Marquez.

 

Rossi: I burnt the clutch at the start

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Valentino Rossi admitted he burnt the clutch out on the grid, before crashing out of the Grand Prix of the Americas on the second lap. 

It is the first time that Rossi has failed to finish a race since crashing out at Aragon in 2014. Rossi had slipped down the field after a strong opening lap when he was making his way back through the field. Starting his second lap, Rossi was making his way into the fast turn two when he lost the front end of his Yamaha M1. 

Rossi said that despite burning the clutch, he had felt good with his bike and was fairly confident he could’ve challenged for the podium had he managed to finish the race.

“It’s a shame because at the start unfortunately I burnt the clutch,” explained the Italian.

“I was third but the clutch slipped a lot, so I had to go slow to try and recover the clutch and I lost some positions. At the same time I was not so far, I felt good with the bike, we worked well during the weekend and I felt fast,” he said.

I had the feeling the clutch was coming back already but I entered turn two, I didn‘t feel from the bike I was too fast but looking at the result maybe I was… It’s a shame because we lost some points in the championship and also because we could make a good race.”

Despite the fall, the Doctor walked away from the crash and remained fairly pragmatic, buoyed by the pace demonstrated over practice and qualifying. 

“The positive side is that we are strong and very fast, so we will be ready for Jerez,” said Rossi.

Rossi now sits third in the World Championship standings, but thirty three points Marquez as the MotoGP paddock heads back to Europe, with the next race in Jerez in two weeks time.

Photos via Movistar Yamaha

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Lorenzo: Today the important thing was to finish and I did it

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After crashing out of last weekends Argentine Grand Prix, Jorge Lorenzo knew that gaining twenty World Championship points today could prove valuable in November.

Lorenzo flew off from second place on the line, however an uncharacteristically scruffy opening couple of laps saw the Spaniard behind Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso. Lorenzo disposed of Dovizioso pretty quickly, but it was too late to catch Marquez, with the Spaniard edging away from Lorenzo to eventually take the victory by a little over six seconds.

When Lorenzo realised Marquez wasn’t going to face any issues with his soft front tyre, he decided that the most important thing was to finish the race with twenty points, especially after crashes in Argentina and in morning warm-up.

“It was really important to finish the race and get 20 points after crashing at high speed in the morning, it was really difficult mentally to focus,” explained the World Champion.

“I tried in warm up and through the few hours before the race to focus and convince myself for the race.”

After making the mistakes on the opening laps, Lorenzo knew that he couldn’t match Marquez’ times, let alone better them. It was at this point he decided to settle for second place, ensuring he maintained his gap back to third placed Andrea Iannone.

“It was a difficult beginning, the track was slippery and with the hard rear tyre and the full tank it was difficult to stop especially on braking. I made some mistakes I don’t normally do in the first lap,” he said.

“I couldn’t keep the pace of Marc, he was making the difference this weekend and in the race. I was fast enough to stay in second place and finish the race.

“You could see it was difficult to stay on the bike with a lot of crashes. Today the important thing was to finish and I did it.”

Photos via Movistar Yamaha

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