Top six for Maverick Viñales but retirement for Aleix Espargaro in Austrian GP
Maverick Viñales put in a strong and spirited performance to finish sixth in today’s MotoGP™ Red Bull Ring World Championship race in Austria as team-mate Aleix Espargaró was forced to pull-out suffering with the effects of a fractured finger incurred in a fall on Friday.
Viñales – who set the fastest lap of the race at one stage – stayed with the leading group of six riders that broke free from the rest of the pack early on, and spent most of the race locked in a battle with series leader Marc Marquez, but the Suzuki rider couldn’t quite make the pass. The positive jump at the start and effectiveness in early corners marked an improvement in his riding, and Viñales reported a very good feeling with the machine for the first half of the race.
Both riders were in the leading group in the early stages of the 28-lap race, but as the race entered the closing stages, Espargaró, who had battled pain in yesterday’s qualifying sessions, had to pull into the pits with four laps to go. His efforts were remarkable over the whole weekend, but the progressive drop of tyre performance generated an instability in the machine that made his riding too demanding for the injured hand.
“We did more than half the race with the leading group and I really felt confident and comfortable, I tried to overtake for fifth place but I lacked in effectiveness on the straight so I couldn’t succeed; it’s a pity because I could have maybe caught-up to fourth. In the second part of the race the problem became bigger so I settled for sixth. We will need to verify the data to better understand the tyre drop as the rear tyre looked very worn. I’m satisfied because when we had full performance from the grip we were very competitive, this wasn’t an easy track for us so we need to improve the overall performance if we want to be even more competitive, but being only 14 seconds from the winner in such a ‘stop-and-go’ track – and which is not the most suitable for us – it’s a positive result.”
“It’s been a very, very hard race for me and finally I had to retire. I tried all I could but the hand hurt too much. In the first part of the race I was pretty confident, the jump at the start was very good, even though I was worried about it, and I felt confident with the bike in the early laps as I could follow with a good pace. The problems became bigger when the tyres got worn; this caused more-and-more instability to the machine, as it is normal, therefore requiring much more force on the handlebars, which obviously became a problem for my injured finger. I hoped to be able to end the race, but my pace became too slow and there was no point in risking a further crash. Furthermore, we are going to race in Brno next week, so I need to be sensible and try to recover as soon as possible. I’m really sorry, but with the team we did a good job and I felt very comfortable with the bike, plus the Suzuki Factory did a great job in delivering us new winglets in such a short time.”
Source: Suzuki Racing