Maverick Viñales’ (Movister Yamaha MotoGP) weekend at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky will be one that he’ll want to forget. Qualifying 12th wasn’t the result he was looking for on Saturday, and being caught up in the three-rider crash at Turn 3 on Sunday with Stefan Bradl (HRC Honda Team) and Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) wasn't the ending the Yamaha man was looking for.
“I honestly don’t know, I just saw Bradley’s bike that came, already on the ground,” said the Spaniard about the first lap crash. “I tried to pick up my bike, but it was too late. I don’t know whose mistake it was but I’m lucky I don’t have any injuries.”
The crash rounded off a difficult weekend for Viñales, although he was able to find a setup in morning Warm Up, allowing him to think positively about the race. “A difficult weekend for sure, we found a setup in the warm up, I felt really good, so I was very enthusiastic for the race,” explained the 2013 Moto3™ World Champion, but finding a setup in Warm Up is far from ideal.
“Honestly finding the setup in warm up isn’t positive, we should do that on Friday, but anyway it’s like this. We need to keep working, focusing on the job and hope the bike is working better in Austria.”
After the Czech GP, teammate Valentino Rossi explained how “Austria is one of the worst tracks for us”, with Viñales finishing no higher than sixth in the previous two years at the Red Bull Ring. So how is the bike looking ahead of what could be another difficult weekend?
Rumours were circulating about his future with Crew Chief Ramon Forcada at Brno and after the race, the Yamaha rider didn't sound too positive about finding a good setup for the rest of the season. “I don’t know, I don’t know honestly. I don’t know if I can find a setup that works for me this year because I’ve been struggling so much with the bike,” indicated the number 25, talking about what he was planning to test on the Monday after the Czech GP.
“This morning (Warm Up) was too late, I think the crash is a consequence of being 12th, so we need to pay really good attention in the setup we follow and let’s see tomorrow.”
Battered and bruised from the crash, Viñales was rested by Yamaha for the Monday test at Brno with the Austrian GP just four days away. It’s not all bad news for the Spaniard though, who still sits fourth in the overall standings as Round 11 beckons – just four points off Czech GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). Three podiums this year indicate the speed is there, so can the 23-year-old return as top gun next time out?