With his teammate Valentino Rossi unable to compete in his home Grand Prix due to injury, Viñales had to fly the Movistar Yamaha flag alone, and all eyes were on him as he started from pole. After a good launch off the line, he entered the first corner with caution, slotting into fourth place. He took a couple of laps to get heat into his tyres, after a small wobble on lap 2 gave him a warning of just how tricky the wet track conditions were. Danilo Petrucci passed the Yamaha rider at the start of lap 3, but the Spaniard had a plan.
Viñales gradually upped his pace in each sector, trying to determine the limit whilst having to contend with a lack of rear grip in most of the left corners. He set consecutive personal best laps, but he had to keep an eye on his pursuers at the same time. He got into a fight with Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller, which lost him some valuable time, but the battle was short-lived.
Crutchlow was soon caught out by the treacherous conditions of the race, allowing the number 25 rider to seize the opportunity. Back in fourth position on lap 7, as Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the lead, the 22-year-old could pick up where he left off and started to better his rhythm again. He steadily broke away from Michele Pirro and Miller, opening an over 2-second gap. Viñales had a lonely ride in the final stages of the race, though he didn’t stop pushing for even a second. He ultimately took the chequered flag in fourth place, 16.559s from first.
Today’s results keep Viñales in third place in the championship standings, 16 points behind the joint leaders and 26 points ahead of Rossi, who holds on to fourth place in the standings. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team is in second place in the Team Championship, with a nine-point margin to first. Yamaha is also in second place in the Constructor Championship with a five-point gap to the top of the rankings.
The MotoGP paddock will next head to the MotorLand Aragón for round 14, the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, held from September 22nd – 24th.