Maverick Viñales on the podium in Australia
Viñales had a good start and immediately looked threatening behind frontmen Miller and Marquez. After two laps his tyres were warm and he was ready to make a move. As he overtook Marquez, he took Rossi with him. His teammate passed him with 23 laps remaining as they continued their chase after the leader, but the Spaniard wasn’t to be shaken off easily.
When Rossi overtook Miller, Viñales launched himself past both. He was leading the race, but it wasn’t to last in today’s frantic MotoGP battle. He soon had to deal with Marquez, Zarco and Miller again and the Spaniard found himself in fifth place, with 15 laps to go, behind his teammate.
Seeing Rossi carve through the field, Viñales cautiously picked up places, but it remained a push-and-pull fight at the front. He had his head down, but soon had to start all over again as fighting with Zarco and Andrea Iannone pushed him wide and made him fall back to seventh place. He climbed back up the rankings, picking off Miller and Cal Crutchlow with five laps to go, and used his saved-up tyre life to perfection in the last laps to breeze past Iannone and overtake Zarco over the line for third place, pipping him by 0.016s, to take third place, 1.826s from first.
Today’s race results see Viñales hold third place in the championship with a 50-point gap to the leader, while Rossi regained fourth place in the standings, 81 points from the front. Yamaha moved up to second place in the Constructor classification, 34 points from first, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP are in second place in the Team title challenge, with 36 points to the top of the rankings.
The team will soon head north again to take part in next week’s Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.
“I had planned on attacking with five laps to go. On the previous lap, I had already overtaken Johann and tried to overtake Valentino at the last part of the straight, but I went wide. I had a moment with Johann on the outside and then went towards Andrea. I lost my race there, but in the end I recovered really well. I started to overtake the other riders fast and, honestly, I was quite far back from where I needed to be in the last corner, but the bike accelerated really well and I even thought I could pass Valentino. In the end he was a bit too far ahead, but I’m still really happy. The team was working really well and especially this morning in the rain I felt great and that’s a good starting point for Malaysia. There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend, especially on the soft tyre. The championship challenge is gone, this is not good news, but we already knew all season it was going to be difficult, especially during the second part. We have to try to be strong, as always, and try to be on the podium again in Malaysia. I want to recover some points to Andrea, which is important. We’re going to try to make the bike work and try to have one of our strongest weekends.”