Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Maverick Viñales turned a difficult weekend around with a superb performance at the GP of the Czech Republic on Sunday, working his way up to third place in a thrilling flag-to-flag race.
Starting the race from seventh on the grid, Viñales slotted into sixth position after the first corner. He followed his teammate past Dani Pedrosa to fifth on the opening lap, but it soon became clear the track was too dry for the wet tyres to last.
The Yamaha rider quickly headed into the pits after lap 4 to switch bikes. Back on track in 13th place, he quickly got back into the groove and gained positions as other riders came in to change bikes a lap later.
He soon circulated in eleventh place and was on the move with 17 laps to go. Putting his head down, he rode a superb race. The Spaniard carried a strong pace over the next nine laps and climbed up to third, dropping a personal best on lap 16, followed by a fastest race lap of 1‘57.052s.
However, he was unable to close the gap to the front riders and crossed the line in third place, 18.135s from first.
“I‘m really happy. Honestly, third was the best we could do,” he said. “Our target was to be on the podium and we did it. We were struggling during the whole weekend. Finishing third on a tough weekend is a good result. We have to be on the podium, this has to be the norm if we want to win the championship title.”
“I came in a little bit late, I think, but at the same time as Dani Pedrosa and some other riders, so it was good for the overall result. The track was drying out really fast. It might have been better to stop a little bit earlier, but this is the first time I finish a flag-to-flag race on the podium, so it gives me a lot of experience.”
“In Austria it‘s going to be really important to have a good feeling and a good weekend, and winning on Sunday will also be really important. I think all the podiums today were dedicated to Ángel Nieto, because he was really important and one of the best.”