Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi turned his fortunes around today at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, claiming a strong 6th place after a superb comeback race. Maverick Viñales had a more challenging outing at the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg track, but made up ground in the second half of the race to finish in 12th position.
Rossi started from 14th on the grid and was wary of the first lap, when the busy mid-pack of the rider field would be diving into the tight first corner, but he managed the situation well. He finished his first lap in 11th place, trying to be both on the attack and the defensive. At the start of lap 4 the provisional rider order settled, and the Italian was in tenth place chasing fellow Yamaha-rider Johann Zarco. Two laps later he got the job done, taking ninth.
The battle for eighth with Aleix Espargeró took the nine-time World Champion a bit longer, but he prevailed with 19 laps to go. He then had to bridge a gap to Tito Rabat. Ten laps later he could make his move, successfully securing seventh place, but he had to do yet more work to close the over 2.5s gap to Álex Rins. It was a big ask, but the Doctor was up to the task and four laps before the end he got the job done. Rossi had to continue pushing 100% for the remainder of the race to keep Dani Pedrosa at bay. All the while he was closing in on Danilo Petrucci in fifth, but he came just short of being able to confront him, crossing the line in sixth place, 14.026s from first.
Viñales was determined to avoid history repeating itself this afternoon, after Brno’s first lap crash last weekend. He had a decent start from 11th on the grid but needed a few laps to get up to speed. He fell back to 16th place, yet gradually upped his pace. As Andrea Iannone went wide, the Spaniard gained a position. He followed it up with a red first sector on lap 11, the first of many, signaling the start of his charge.
He soon moved up to 13th place and was on the tail of Álvaro Bautista. He followed his compatriot past Aleix Espargaró but wasn’t able to keep up. The last quarter of the race was a lonely run for the number 25 rider. As his soft rear tyre began to deteriorate, the Spaniard focused on holding on to his twelfth position to score some important points for the championship. He took the chequered flag with a 22.939s margin to the race leader.
Today’s results see Rossi remain in second position in the championship standings with 59 points to first and 29 points ahead of teammate Viñales, who is now in fifth position. Yamaha holds third place in the Constructor Championship after the race in Spielberg, with a 53-point margin to first, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team are now in third position in the team standings with a 12-point gap to first.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action at the Silverstone Circuit for the GoPro British Grand Prix, held from August 24th - 26th.