Maverick Viñales started the Americas GP from first place on the grid and was in third place after the first corner. He needed a couple of laps to find a good rhythm before he started chasing the man in front of him.
With 14 laps to go, the Spaniard put in a block pass into turn 1 on Andrea Iannone, so he had a clear track ahead of him to hunt down the race leader. He consistently dropped laps in the 2:05s, but was not able to inch closer and decided to focus on managing the gap to the riders in pursuit. He did so brilliantly, finishing the race in second place, holding a 3.560s gap to the front over the finish line.
Viñales: “I feel good on the bike right now and we’ve got to keep it like that. I can’t wait for the race in Jerez”
“Starting from the front row made it much easier, and I could breathe more calmly. I was able to control the first three or four riders quite well. I’m happy overall because the team focused on the weekend in a different way, and that was so good. I think we know how to go fast with this Yamaha and we proved it. Our bike seems to be stronger at COTA than it was last year, I felt good during the race. Even though it was difficult to challenge Marc [Marquez], and even with the difficulties we had, we still came in second”, Viñales said.
“I didn’t want to make the same mistake as I made in last year’s race, so I gave up on trying to chase Marc and controlled the gap to Andrea [Iannone] even more. I feel positive, but we have to keep pushing. Every day I’m feeling better on the bike and we’re going to go up and up. The feeling with the bike has changed a lot. I feel good on the bike right now and we’ve got to keep it like that. I can’t wait for the race in Jerez. Now we’ll have four or five races where I like the tracks a lot, I really enjoy riding there. We’re going to go for the win, I know we are not far away, and we’re going to push for it.”
— Maverick Viñales (@maverickmack25) April 23, 2018
Valentino Rossi speeded to the first corner from P5 on the grid
But with all riders squeezing through the tight left-hander, he was pushed back a position. He soon reclaimed fifth place though, as he passed Johann Zarco in the first lap in turn 12. The next lap he also picked off Cal Crutchlow, so he was directly behind Viñales.
As his teammate passed Iannone at the start of lap 6, the Doctor pressed to do the same. He was looking threatening behind his compatriot, but couldn’t quite manoeuvre his bike into third position. As his tyres started to lose grip, Rossi lost touch with the fellow Italian. The remainder of his race was quite a lonely ride and he finished taking the chequered flag in fourth place, 9.587s from first.
“It was a good weekend because I was already in the top 5, but in the race I expected to be a bit more competitive, to try and fight for the podium. I knew that Marquez and Maverick were a bit stronger. I hoped I was fast enough for a fight for the podium with Iannone. But Andrea was faster than I was. I wasn’t able to arrive, to attack. I suffered a little bit in the hot conditions because the front gave me more problems than in the practice. We have to work. Now we have ten days. The next round will be in Europe, where the situation will be different.”
These results see Viñales climb up to third place in the championship standings, with 41 points. Rossi also gained a place, holding seventh with a 29-point total. Yamaha is now in second place in the Constructor Championship with 56 points, while Movistar Yamaha MotoGP moved up to first position in the Team Championship, having scored 70 points.