Maverick Viñales takes sensational podium at Phillip Island, DNF for Aleix Espargaro
Maverick Viñales raced to a sensational hard-fought third place in today’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle GP after an exciting recovery from 13th place on the grid and a hard-fought battle with team mate Aleix Espargaró, who unfortunately slipped-off from his provisional third position with just five laps remaining.
Both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders were on podium pace from the morning’s warm-up, held in bright and dry conditions at Phillip Island, for the first time all weekend. And on the start, both GSX-RRs got great jumps with both riders immediately in the hunt.
Espargaró moved from fourth to third and Viñales started his climb through the pack that saw him catch-up from a lowly 13th on the grid, to challenge for the podium with nine laps remaining.
The young Spaniard traded places with his team-mate and Andrea Dovizioso in the race’s most exciting battle until Espargaró lost the front end after re-passing for third position in the closing stages; putting Viñales in line for his second successive podium in two weeks; his previous one being at Motegi in Japan.
“This podium has a very good taste to it, the weekend had been very hard this morning, but finally I was happy when I woke up today and saw the sun. We had very little time to finalise a set-up for the race, but finally the machine was very good to me and the tyre choice proved to be the right one, allowing me to recover and go for the third. I only had to be careful in the very early stages of the race because not having had the time to test the tyres I was not totally sure the front would support me, but after two or three laps I realised I could trust it. My pace was very good, I’m sorry for Aleix’s crash because we were having a strong race and we had a good pace. At the end, I also thought I could catch-up for second place, my pace was good enough to do it, but unfortunately I’d lost too much time in getting from sixth to third and the race was gone. Anyway, I’m really happy with the result, I want to thank my team because they did a very good job having such a short time to prepare.”
“I’m really sad because once again, just like in Japan, we were fighting for the podium until the last laps… it’s difficult because I felt I had the pace to catch-up for second, but I lost much time to keep my rhythm as I had to recover from overtakings on the straight. After the warm-up we took a gamble, going with the hard tyre at the front without having tried it properly in the warm-up, but also the team did a very good job improving the machine a lot for the race. I’m sorry also for them, I hope we will come strong again in Malaysia to be competitive again. We proved we can be a lot more competitive recently, so we will work to keep this positive performance.”