Rossi had a good start from pole and took second place after the first corners, behind Jorge Lorenzo. Shadowed by Marc Marquez, the front men tried to make a break for it. Marquez overtook the local hero on lap 3 but crashed out two laps later. This allowed the Doctor to resume his charge towards the race leader, but it wasn’t without interruptions.
As the Italian went wide with 16 laps to go, compatriots Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone passed through and also Danilo Petrucci and Alex Rins joined the fight. The number 46 rider soon found himself in fifth place, but he wasn’t out for the count. He regained his position ahead of Iannone and tried to claw his way back past Petrucci, whilst fending off Rins. Though he had to allow the Spaniard through with nine laps to go, he cleverly followed the young rider and seized two overtake opportunities on lap 17 and 18 to snatch third. Iannone tried to steal the podium position away from him, launching various attacks in turn 1, but the fans’ favourite held firm and crossed the line in third place, 6.629s from first. Thanks to today’s results Rossi became the first rider to score over 5000 Grand Prix championship points (he has collected 5005 points in total).
Viñales didn’t get off to a good start from the third place of the grid and was swamped going into the first corner. Riding with the harder tyre spec that takes longer to warm up, he fell further back and completed the first lap in 11th place. As the tyres started to warm, the the youngster began to stalk fellow Yamaha rider Johann Zarco. A personal best time on lap 9 put him in a perfect position to pass the Frenchman at the start of lap 10.
From that point on, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP man had a lonely ride, trying to close a nearly four-second gap to the rider in front of him. As the race went on, Viñales’ confidence grew. He kept his laps inside the 1’48s and with five laps to go he tagged onto the back of the fight for third place, at the time led by his teammate. The Spaniard was looking threatening, but having used up his tyres, he was not able to gain any further positions. He took the chequered flag in eighth place, 11.060s behind the leader.
Rossi’s podium finish moves him up to second position in the championship standings with 72 points, 5 points ahead of teammate Viñales, who dropped down to third. These results keep Yamaha in second place in the Constructor Championship, decreasing the margin to first to 22 points, while the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team reclaimed first position in the team standings and now have a 15-point gap to the second team.
MotoGP will be back in action in two weeks’ time at Viñales’ home Grand Prix, the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from June 15th – 17th.