Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales put in a stunning display of riding to score the first podium of his MotoGP™ career at Le Mans in France this afternoon, ending the race in third position and the Suzuki Factory’s first for the new GSX-RR since 2008 as team-mate Aleix Espargaró had some trouble in the race but managed a positive sixth place.
Viñales, who started from eighth on the grid, chased team-mate Espargaró through the opening laps until moving ahead and then into third position with 11 laps to go to bring home Suzuki’s first MotoGP podium since Loris Capirossi at the Czech GP. The young Spaniard had been struggling the whole weekend with his machine’s set-up, but a further improvement on the bike allowed him to find more efficiency in the warm-up. His crew took the best from his feedback and worked hard during the night to apply important improvements, which finally proved to be effective. His determination in the race and his consistent pace allowed him to control his advantage and get this historical result.
Espargaró had some issues with the front tyre and couldn’t perform at his best. His weekend showed solid progress and his expectations for the race were high, but he had to give up the chase to the podium pretty soon and control his advantage from the followers. This allowed him to score sixth place, which is a positive result for the Team.
Ironically, Suzuki’s first and last victory of the modern MotoGP™ World Championship was recorded at Le Mans by Chris Vermeulen in 2007.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“We finally got this so awaited podium and we are all very happy, it is a result that pays back all the jobs we did and are doing, and is also something that gives us further hope. Maverick had some difficulties in finding a good feeling with his machine in previous days here at Le Mans, but finally we found some good solutions which proved to be effective in allowing him to feel confident. His pace in the race was very good, and although we took benefit from a couple of crashes ahead, we are proud because his race was wise and consistent. This is what we were aiming for. We are working hard, this is a good reward, and I believe that if we continue to work hard we could soon aim for the victory. Unfortunately, Aleix had some more troubles, but he finished in sixth which is a good result. The most important is that he is finding his confidence back and his last races were positive for him.”
“Le Mans must be my lucky track because here I hit my first victory in the World Championship in 2011 and today I got the first podium in MotoGP™. I like it very much and I was so sorry when I saw I could not push as hard as I wanted in previous days. Of course I am very happy for this result, to be the first rider to take Suzuki back on the podium and for the job we have done. Until yesterday I was very worried about the race, but I must thank my crew and all Suzuki’s engineers who didn’t give up and developed a solution during the night that proved to be effective. We are doing a very intense job and this podium is a reward for my efforts and those done by the whole crew and Company.”
“At the end of the day I can’t be satisfied but I’m happy, for the whole weekend we did many improvements and could be faster and faster. I did a good start and could keep a good pace for the early laps, then I felt something strange on the front tyre and couldn’t push as hard as I wanted. I saw the board with the gaps and I decided to conduct a wise race, holding the place and getting home safe with some championship points. My crew and the whole Suzuki team is doing a great job, we did big improvements and today’s podium from Maverick is evidence. My compliments to him, but also this is a good sign of what our potential is.”
GP of France Race Results:
1 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 43’51.290
2 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 44’01.944 + 10.654
3 Maverick VIÑALES Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 44’05.467 + 14.177
4 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 44’10.009 + 18.719
5 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 44’16.221 + 24.931
6 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 44’24.211 + 32.921
7 Danilo PETRUCCI OCTO Pramac Yakhnich 44’29.541 + 38.251
8 Hector BARBERA Avintia Racing 44’29.794 + 38.504
9 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 44’39.826 + 48.536
10 Stefan BRADL Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 44’45.792 + 54.502