MotoGP – Valentino Rossi will attempt to race this weekend at Aragon
2017 MotoGP content on MCNews.com.au brought to you by Honda Genuine Oils
2017 MotoGP content on MCNews.com.au brought to you by Honda Genuine Oils
MotoGP 2017 – Round 14 – Aragon

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team arrives in Spain where the scene is set for either Valentino Rossi’s return from injury, or Yamaha WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark’s MotoGP debut as a replacement rider.

After 17 days of recovering, Rossi got his first laps in at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli last Monday and Tuesday, before undergoing a medical examination today. Following the check-up, the Italian decided to make his way to Aragón in order to try to participate in this weekend’s race. He will have to successfully complete a mandatory physical check by the MotorLand Aragón Chief Medical Officer to be declared fit to take part in the Grand Prix weekend.

Valentino Rossi - Silverstone 2017
Valentino Rossi – Silverstone 2017

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“First of all, the team is looking forward to welcoming back Valentino and his crew in the pit box! The Aragón GP is very special for the team as we share the title sponsor with this round of the MotoGP championship, and we are very happy that we might get to start the event with a ‘complete’ team and rider line-up. It remains to be seen if Valentino feels he can complete the entire race weekend, which is very demanding, especially at a circuit like MotorLand Aragón, with big elevation changes. Should Vale feel that his injury is causing him too much discomfort, then Michael van der Mark will step in as the replacement rider. If that is the case, the team will put in maximal effort to help him adapt to the YZR-M1 as quick as possible. He didn’t get the opportunity to test the bike before, so it would be a very exciting but also interesting weekend for him. As for the other side of the box, we are fully engrossed with the fight for the championship. Maverick is 16 points behind the joint leaders, with five races to go, so we are as determined as ever to get a top result and decrease the margin to the top in the standings. He really likes this circuit and, as it’s also his home race, he will be pushing hard this weekend to confirm his status as a key protagonist.”

Valentino Rossi leading Maverick Vinales at Silverstone
Valentino Rossi leading Maverick Vinales at Silverstone

Despite missing the previous race due to injury, Rossi arrives at the 14th round holding fourth place in the championship, 42 points from the top of the standings. While his leg hasn‘t fully healed yet, the nine-time World Champion is happy he might have the opportunity to attempt riding his YZR-M1 again and greet the Spanish fans in Alcañiz, where he stood on the podium three times before (three third places in 2013, 2015 and 2016).

Valentino Rossi - Silverstone 2017
Valentino Rossi – Silverstone 2017

Valentino Rossi

“Fortunately, yesterday I had a good test with my YZF-R1M in Misano. I tried also the day before, but the rain stopped me after a few laps. Yesterday I managed to complete 20 laps and find the answers I was looking for. Eventually, the test was positive and I want to say thanks to Dr. Lucidi and his staff, who helped me find the best solutions to feel the least amount of pain possible in my leg when I‘m riding. Obviously at the end of the test I was in a little bit of pain, but this morning I went to Dr. Pascarella for a medical check, and it came out with a positive result. At the end I decided I will leave for Aragón and will try to ride my M1 this weekend. If I will be declared fit to ride, I’ll have the real answer after FP1, because riding the M1 will be a much bigger challenge. We’ll see. See you in Aragon!”

Valentino Rossi's M1 was a lonely sight at Misano
Valentino Rossi’s M1 was a lonely sight at Misano

Yamaha WorldSBK rider Van der Mark will still attend the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón as a replacement rider, in case Rossi is declared unfit or if he feels he can’t compete in Sunday’s race after any of the Free Practice sessions. Should he be stepping aboard the YZR-M1 this weekend, he will do so without any prior testing. Nevertheless, he is looking forward to the challenge and to taking in as much information as possible, should Rossi not be able to ride. 

Michael Van Der Mark

“Though it remains uncertain if I will get to ride the YZR-M1 this weekend, I‘m still looking forward to it. While I would like to get to step aboard the YZR-M1, I’m also fully supporting Valentino making his return. I’ll either get to make my MotoGP debut or, should I not be able to ride, I will get to see Valentino live in action as he makes his comeback. As I said earlier, I‘ve not been able to ride a MotoGP bike before the Grand Prix kicks off so, if Valentino ends up withdrawing from the Aragón GP, I will have to jump in at the deep end at the start of the next session and just try my best. However, after securing my first WorldSBK podium of the 2017 season in Portimão, I‘m having a good momentum to step up to the challenge. I want to thank Yamaha again for giving me this opportunity. I‘m sure it will be a good experience either way.”

Rossi at Silverstone where he took third on the podium
Rossi at Silverstone where he took third on the podium

At the previous race in Misano, Viñales flew the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP flag alone. His fourth place at a very wet San Marino race was labelled as good progress by the Spaniard, as it was his first time trying the 2018 chassis in these conditions.

He currently holds third place in the championship standings, 16 points behind the joint leaders and – as the 2017 season has four more rounds after this weekend and there are still 125 points up for grabs – the number 25-rider has all to play for. This weekend he will focus on getting his

Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)

Yamaha set up for the elevation changes and multiple flowing corners at the Alcañiz track as soon as possible on the Friday, so he can make another step forward in his championship challenge in Sunday‘s race.

The young gun has stood on the podium in Aragón three times before, thanks to a third place in 2011 in the 125cc class, a Moto3 second place finish in 2013 and a Moto2 victory in 2014. Last year he just missed out on the premier class podium, securing a best MotoGP placement in Alcañiz of fourth position. This year he fancies his chances to secure a place in the top-3.  

Maverick Vinales

“I’m very happy to head to Aragón because for us it’s like a second home Grand Prix and we know that we can do a good performance there with the M1. It’s one of my favourite tracks because of its lay-out, in Aragón we can be very fast. We are 16 points behind and we need to close that gap as soon as possible. For that reason, it’s very important to push and believe that we can do it. In Misano we made a big step and I’m sure that we will do another important step this weekend. It’s very important to stay focused.”

Maverick Vinales - Misano 2017 - Image by AJRN
Maverick Vinales – Misano 2017 – Image by AJRN
MotoGP World Standings after Round 13 – Misano – Top 15
  1. Marc MARQUEZ – Honda – SPA – 199
  2. Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati – ITA – 199
  3. Maverick VIÑALES – Yamaha – SPA – 183
  4. Valentino ROSSI – Yamaha – ITA – 157
  5. Dani PEDROSA – Honda – SPA – 150
  6. Johann ZARCO – Yamaha – FRA – 110
  7. Danilo PETRUCCI – Ducati – ITA – 95
  8. Cal CRUTCHLOW – Honda – GBR – 92
  9. Jorge LORENZO – Ducati – SPA – 90
  10. Jonas FOLGER – Yamaha – GER – 84
  11. Alvaro BAUTISTA – Ducati – SPA – 62
  12. Scott REDDING – Ducati – GBR – 54
  13. Jack MILLER – Honda – AUS – 53
  14. Aleix ESPARGARO – Aprilia – SPA – 43
  15. Loris BAZ – Ducati – FRA – 39