Maverick Viñales – 3rd Aleix Espargaró – 4th
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales raced to a podium position in today’s Motul Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi as team-mate Aleix Espargaró scored his best result of the season in fourth.
The positive results arrived in a very special weekend for Suzuki; in 1962, 54 years ago on October 14th, Ernst Degner won the very first World Championship title for the manufacturer, at the GP of Argentina on an RM62 machine.
Riding in his 100th GP, Viñales jumped from seventh place and decided for a conservative strategy in the race. Being consistently on the pace – which was improved by his team for this morning’s warm up – he preserved the tyres for the first half of the race, before attacking his team-mate and getting to the final third place.
Fourth place was a good reward also for the positive weekend Espargaró has had in Japan. His performance improved session-by-session and he could be competitive among the top riders for the most of the race, giving-up his aggressiveness only towards the end of the race when he settled for his best result of the season.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“It was good to have a podium here because Japan is our home GP and we could show our performance in front of our colleagues from the factory and all fans. Until yesterday Maverick has been struggling with the setting, for this I couldn’t expect such a great result, although we could deliver some improvements already this morning. Aleix did a very good job during this weekend so we were expecting a good result, finally he couldn't get the podium but the weekend overall is very positive for us. All the team is happy, we want to improve more for Phillip Island because that will be a more favourable track for us and we will try to get more podiums until the end of the season.”
“I’m very happy for this podium because it’s the result of two main points; first of all, the team managed to make good improvements since yesterday, delivering me a machine with which I felt more comfortable than yesterday. This means we have a lot of potential to express, still. Second thing, is that I managed to make a very wise race; the jump was not as good as I wanted, but then I decided to stay calm and not to waste the tyre in order to keep some performance for the end of the race. This allowed me to be consistent and keep my performance until the end and getting third. It was also a nice battle with Aleix, when finally I managed to overtake him it was too late to go and catch up for the second place, but this podium is very emotional, being here in front of all our fans and colleagues from the Suzuki factory.”
“I’m disappointed for the final result because I was expecting a little more, but at the end of the day the whole weekend has been very positive. We did a great job, and finally we are seeing the improvements I was waiting for. It was the first time in the season I managed to stay very close to the head of the race and fight for the podium, so it’s a pity I couldn’t get up there, I tried all I could but finally I had to settle in fourth. It is my best result of the season and I’m proud of it. I’m happy that the next race will be immediately next weekend, we keep the focus and we’ll try to continue this positive period we’re having.”
MOTUL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN RESULT:
1 Marc MARQUEZ - Repsol Honda Team - 42'34.610 2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO - Ducati Team - 42'37.602 + 2.992 3 Maverick VIÑALES - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR - 42'38.714 + 4.104 4 Aleix ESPARGARO - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR - 42'39.336 + 4.726 5 Cal CRUTCHLOW - LCR Honda - 42'49.659 + 15.049 6 Pol ESPARGARO - Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 42'54.264 + 19.654 7 Alvaro BAUTISTA - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini - 42'57.642 + 23.032 8 Danilo PETRUCCI - OCTO Pramac Yakhnich - 43'03.165 + 28.555 9 Scott REDDING - OCTO Pramac Yakhnich - 43'03.412 + 28.802 10 Stefan BRADL - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini - 43'06.940 + 32.330