MotoGP 2017 – Round Four – Jerez
Grip problems plague Factory Yamaha men while Johann Zarco the leading light for the BluCru at Jerez MotoGP
Valentino Rossi retains MotoGP Championship lead despite poor tenth place result at Jerez
While Johann Zarco carved his way through the MotoGP field at Jerez overnight to a brilliant fourth place finish, championship leader Valentino Rossi never looked comfortable or competitive at the Spanish circuit.
Rossi was the last Yamaha man home, in tenth place, and almot 40-seconds behind the race winner. The normally redoubtable champion was at a loss as to his poor form.
The Italian had a solid start from seventh position, climbing up a place going into the first twisty section, but it wasn‘t to last. He crossed the line for the first time in seventh place as he got into an early battle with Zarco, and later with Lorenzo and Viñales. However, the nine-time World Champion soon saw an opportunity to move up the order and grabbed it with both hands.
Within five laps the Doctor moved up from ninth to fifth, but had to make his YZR-M1 as wide as possible to hold off Dovizioso. With 17 laps to go, a mistake cost Rossi fifth position. It was the first sign of grip troubles for the Italian, who was unable to keep a charging Danilo Petrucci, Aleix Espargaró and Jonas Folger at bay. He crossed the line in tenth place, 38.682s from the front.
Valentino Rossi – P10
“It was a very difficult race after a difficult weekend. I never had a good feeling with the bike and the tyres. We tried to work a lot, especially to fix the spin and acceleration, but unfortunately for the race we did worse. We tried to modify it a bit, but I was also in trouble with the front. At the end I had to slow down a lot and had a lot of vibration. It was OK to arrive right at the end, but it was a difficult weekend for the whole team. We expected to be stronger and more competitive at this track, looking at the results of last year. We need to try and understand what happened, tomorrow we have the test and we‘ll see.”
Maverick Vinales shows fight but ultimately had to settle for sixth place at Jerez
Maverick Viñales started from fourth on the grid, but got pushed back to fifth as the field bunched up in the first corner. He put his head down, but had to let Johann Zarco pass him as he used the opening laps to get heat into his tyres.
At the end of lap 5 the familiar number 25 found himself in ninth after a flurry of activity. Jorge Lorenzo had squeezed past and a little later a close battle between Viñales and Andrea Iannone caused both riders to go wide, allowing Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso through. However, the young Spaniard wasn‘t out of contention yet.
The Yamaha rider was on a second wind and fought his way past Iannone, as Cal Crutchlow crashed out of fourth place. After overtaking Rossi and Dovizioso in one swoop, with 14 laps to go, Viñales tried to shake off both rivals, but was unable to clear off completely. Dovizioso put up a fight and, with ten laps to go, a small moment for Vinales meant he had to hand over fifth place. The Spaniard kept his cool and opted to secure ten solid points for the championship, crossing the line in sixth position, 24.556s from first, after a challenging race weekend.
Viñales’s sixth place puts him on 60 points and second place in the rankings, two points behind championship leader Rossi, who has earned a total of 62 points. Today‘s results see Yamaha still holding the lead in the Constructor’s Championship with a four-point margin. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team also remains on top in the Team’s Championship standings, 12 points ahead of its closest rival.
Maverick Vinales – P6
“It was a strange day. In the warm up I was feeling really good, so precise in all the breaking points, but in the afternoon I didn’t have the same feeling. I felt like I was going to crash in nearly every corner, so it was a really strange and difficult day for us. It has been difficult for both sides of the box. We have to think about what happened and try to improve for the next races, because we lost some important points for the championship.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Today‘s results make for a disappointing ending to the first European round of the season. After the warm up results, we couldn‘t have expected that the Spanish GP was going to turn out to be this type of race. Maverick started the race with the same configuration as he had during the warm up, but from the very beginning of the race he struggled with the front. Valentino had exactly the same problem. It seems the hardest front tyre works better on our bike in cooler temperatures, because this was the only difference between the warm up and the race. We will analyse today‘s data and learn from it. Luckily, tomorrow we will spend one more day testing here, so we will try to understand what caused today‘s outcome.”
Johann Zarco a strong fourth place and the first Yamaha home at Jerez
Over in the Tech 3 garage, there were smiles aplenty as Johann Zarco completed a highly impressive rout at the 3000th Motorcycle Grand Prix event, where the Frenchman finished as the leading Yamaha rider, the top independent competitor and the fastest rookie.
Zarco undertook a memorable charge forward in the opening stages of the race to move up from 6th on the grid to second by the close of the fourth lap. He maintained his consistency before eventually meeting the chequered flag in 4th, and now ranks sixth in the championship standings.
Johann Zarco – P4
“I feel so happy about our performance today. Jerez is a complicated track and all of the riders were really close in qualifying so it has been a challenge here. At the beginning of the race, my feeling was great and I felt very comfortable, plus I had the confidence. I was able to overtake some of the top guys and then when I was second, I still felt good. However, I almost crashed twice, which allowed Marc to overtake me and from that moment I was wondering what would happen.
“I could not push anymore on the front because I was really on the limit and so I wasn’t able to follow the top two riders. I remained in third for a long time, but when Jorge overtook me, I was thinking that I could manage the gap, yet he was more consistent than me in the last eight laps.
“The target is to be on the podium or as close as possible to it, so we did the job today. I am happy and now I will take a good rest so that I can be strong again for my home race in two weeks. I am positive about going to Le Mans and this is perhaps why I am thinking that everything is going well now, so maybe the most difficult time is yet to come. The best way to control the pressure that I will feel in France is to enjoy every moment, live in the present and appreciate our work.”
Jonas Folger claims another top ten
Meanwhile, Jonas Folger clinched his third top ten finish of the year as he impressively recovered from slipping back to 14th in the opening part of the Spanish GP. With seven laps remaining, he powered past Valentino Rossi and opened a comfortable gap before speeding across the finish line in 8th.
Jonas Folger – P8
“I am pleased with the result today and we collected some important points for the championship. I still need to keep improving, but especially on the opening lap. I made too many mistakes today when we got going, but in the race, when the tyres dropped, my pace was similar to Maverick and Johann and I made up a lot of ground. This seems to be the case so far in my rookie season, but I need to work on myself and analyse the Grand Prix to see what I can do differently so that I don’t lose as many positions in the first five or six laps. It was my fourth point scoring finish this year, which I am happy about, and I hope to make a step up at the next round which will be special as it’s the team’s home race in Le Mans.”
Hervé Poncharal – Tech3 Team Manager
“It was an unbelievably exciting GP for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. We knew that a good race was possible but the temperature was very high and this circuit gets tricky with the grip when it’s this hot and so the tyres played a big part. At the start, Johann made some really good overtakes to get up to second, and we couldn’t believe how well he was doing, just like in the previous three Grand Prix’s! I thought that he was taking advantage of the softer front than the factory guys and that this would change at the half race distance. Yet, he never slowed down and the tyres were consistent until the finish. I’m sure that he could have made a move on Jorge at the end, but the gap to Dovizioso behind him was increasing all the time, so he wisely decided to bring the bike home and get the points.
“He was the fastest Yamaha rider and I am honoured that these points will be added to the Yamaha tally in the constructor’s championship. I must admit that Johann doesn’t seem to be behaving like a rookie as he was with Marquez, Pedrosa and Lorenzo and he didn’t seem to be struggling to keep up with them at all! This is happening at the best moment because the next round is his home race in Le Mans and I’m sure that everyone will be coming to support Johann and Tech3 there. On the other side of the garage, Jonas Folger produced an incredible ride as well. He was a bit more cautious in the opening laps but then he showed great determination and ran similar lap times to his teammate.
“Eventually, he caught the group in front of him where Valentino was, and he passed him cleanly before opening up a gap and then meeting the flag in 8th, which is a great team result. Jonas spent a lot of time on his own but the lap times were certainly impressive and just like Johann, he is learning a lot and we are very happy with our two guys. There is a test tomorrow where hopefully both of them will learn more about how to setup and understand their MotoGP bikes. We are a really pleased team and I must say thank you to Yamaha for their superb support and thanks to our riders who both did very well.”
MotoGP 2017 – Round Four – Jerez Race Results
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 25 Repsol Honda Team 45’26.827
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 20 Repsol Honda Team 6.136
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 16 Ducati Team 14.767
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 13 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 17.601
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 11 Ducati Team 22.913
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 10 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 24.556
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 9 Octo Pramac Racing 24.959
- FOLGER Jonas 94 GER 8 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 27.721
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 7 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 31.233
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 6 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 38.682
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR 5 Octo Pramac Racing 40.979
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 4 Reale Avintia Racing 43.199
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 3 Reale Avintia Racing 43.211
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 2 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 47.964
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 1 Pull&Bear Aspar Team 51.279
- LOWES Sam 22 GBR 0 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’08.885
- TSUDA Takuya 22 JPN 0 Suzuki Test Team 1’27.450
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 0 Team Suzuki Ecstar 18 (laps)
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA 0 Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 18 (laps)
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 0 LCR Honda 22 (laps)
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS 0 Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 22 (laps)
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 0 Pull&Bear Aspar Team 22 (laps)
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 0 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 22 (laps)
MotoGP 2017 – MotoGP Championship Points Standings after Round Four at Jerez
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 62 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 60 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 58 Repsol Honda Team
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 52 Repsol Honda Team
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 41 Ducati Team
- ZARCO Johann 5 FRA 35 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR 29 LCR Honda
- FOLGER Jonas 94 GER 29 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 28 Ducati Team
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 26 Octo Pramac Racing
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR 26 Octo Pramac Racing
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS 21 Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 17 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 14 Pull&Bear Aspar Team
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA 12 Reale Avintia Racing
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 12 Reale Avintia Racing
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 9 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 9 Pull&Bear Aspar Team
- RABAT Tito 53 SPA 8 Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS
- RINS Alex 42 SPA 7 Team Suzuki Ecstar
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 3 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 2 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing