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Maverick Viñales left Le Mans delighted after finishing third and securing his maiden MotoGP™ podium, and Suzuki’s first since Brno in 2008.
Viñales started the race from 8th on the grid, but had dropped down to ninth after the first lap. The 21-year-old Spaniard then set about making his way through the field, passing Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) for eighth on the third lap. Up next was Smith’s teammate Pol Espargaro, and Viñales managed to pass him on the next lap to move into seventh. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) soon crashed out of the race from second, promoting Viñales to sixth on lap 7, with the Spaniard them making his way past his teammate on the next lap to find himself in fifth.
With the field starting to spread out, that looked like it was as good as it was going to get for Viñales, but with 13 laps to go both Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) crashed out of the race in separate incidents at the same corner, leaving Viñales in third and on course for his first premier class rostrum. He then held off a late charge from Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda, going on to cross the line in third, 14.177s behind the race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
Viñales (49pts) now sits fifth in the standings, 41 points behind the leader Lorenzo and seven points ahead of his teammate Aleix Espargaro.
The MotoGP™ World Championship now heads to Mugello for the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM, which is scheduled to run from the 20th to the 22nd of May.
Maverick Viñales: “It is such a special feeling to be on the podium, we did an incredible job. Yesterday was so difficult, really difficult, as I was not feeling very good with the bike, but this morning we found a new setup. I regained my confidence and could start pushing again. Today when I started I just tried to concentrate and overtake the riders in front of me. Finally Marc and Dovi had bad luck but I was riding well and at about the same pace as Valentino so I was happy. I was on the limit many times, and when Pedrosa started to close I was having some moments, but finally I was able to ride quote smoothly and control it.”
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