Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales fought to ninth position in today’s Brno MotoGP™ in the Czech Republic under difficult and changeable conditions as team-mate Aleix Espargaró was forced out after a strong showing earlier in the 22-lap race.
The 400th MotoGP race started wet and both GSX-RR riders opted for soft Michelin tyres, with a potential opportunity to pull-in to change machines during the race. But both stayed out – as did most of the riders – as the track dried in the closing laps.
In such tricky conditions, the choice of the tyres affected Viñales’ final performance as the track didn’t dry enough for a flag-to-flag, but also was too demanding for soft wet tyres, resulting in that riders who chose hard wet tyres had an advantage towards the end of the race.
Different issues affected Espargaró’s performance: After a very positive jump and a vigorous competitiveness for almost two-thirds distance, an issue with the engine prevented him collecting a deserved result. His performance has been more and more positive throughout the weekend, with a further step in the morning in the warm-up session where he found the final configuration for a set-up that allowed him to feel much-more confident.
Tomorrow the Team will stay in Brno for a day of testing with Viñales, as Espargaró will take available time to recover from his hand injuries, incurred last weekend in Austria.
Maverick Viñales: We are making solid progress in the wet
“Probably we took the wrong choice with the tyres? We started with the soft thinking that the track would have gone to dry much quicker so to get to a flag-to-flag, but finally this didn’t happen so the performance finally dropped a lot. Anyway, I’m happy because if you see at the classification of those who had soft tyres, we are third, and furthermore we could make very good steps forward. Today I’m really happy, we are making solid progress in the wet, today I tried to catch-up with leaders but finally had to preserve the tyre and not crash. The bike was performing very well, I need to thank my crew because they did a very good job.”
Aleix Espargaró: Suddenly I felt something was wrong
“This year is really unlucky. This morning in the warm-up we tried a modification in the very last run and I had the feeling it was correct, as I felt lot more comfortable and it helped me a lot in the start and in the first laps as I managed to stay close to the top. Then suddenly I felt something was wrong in the bike, the engine was not performing normally and I had to give up. It will be very important to go and understand what happened. At the end of the day it’s the first issue like this in two years of development, it’s frustrating, but it’s something that happens in races.”