Maverick Viñales: 5th. Aleix Espargaró: 8th.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró raced to fifth and eighth positions in the final round of MotoGP™ 2016, the Gran Prix de la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain this afternoon.
The last Grand Prix of the season ended consistently with both riders capable of fighting in the top positions, especially Viñales well into podium positions for several laps.
Fourth place on the grid and one of the best starts of the season saw Viñales recover positions and turn in third at the first corner and the positive set-up finalised during the weekend allowed him to hold third place for many laps. With the tyre drop, however, he had to give-up two positions and from then on wasn’t able to fight again to recover, although he held onto fifth place until the end.
Espargaró had a consistent race, from ninth place, although he had to give up a couple of positions at the beginning, but kept in touch with competitors to recover to ninth in a few laps, engaging a fierce battle for eighth and then chase seventh. His strategy to preserve the tyres for the last part of the race allowed him to keep his pace and close the race in eighth.
This was the last race in Suzuki colours for Espargaró and Viñales, who have been the protagonists of Suzuki’s comeback to MotoGP™. These two years have seen the machines, the riders and the crews grow very fast, catching-up the competitors in such a short time and now being able to fight with the best manufacturers. All the people in the Team at the circuit, as well as the engineers and management in Hamamatsu, Japan want to say a big thank you to both for these two years together.
Satoru Terada – Project Leader:
“With this race we finished a two-year period that took us back to the MotoGP™. First of all, I want to say thank you to our riders, to the team and to the engineers in Japan. They all contributed to develop the bike that now we see so competitive. Last year we had some struggles in making the machine well-performing, and this made the riders’ job even harder, but they trusted in our project and helped us to improve. In winter, at the beginning of 2016, we finally succeeded in delivering major improvements; a better-performing engine and the seamless gearbox, together with continuous improvement in chassis, set-up and electronics. This allowed us to get the first victory after less than two years, plus three podiums. This is an incredible result we are very proud of. Now Maverick and Aleix are leaving, and tomorrow we will welcome two new riders, starting a renewed challenge. Our commitment is to deliver them a more-performing machine, to continue and even improve the positive path we have started in the last part of the season, and so hopefully we will achieve even better results that can make proud all Suzuki fans, and us as well.”
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“The final result in the race was not the best we could achieve, but both riders got a positive result and this makes the weekend a positive one. I still remember when we were here racing in 2014, our very first race after many years, and we were struggling so much; where we are now is an incredible result. We have made huge steps of improvement in these two years, and we must be very proud of our job. Of course, a big part of the cause is the two riders; Maverick and Aleix did an extremely good job with us, allowing us to improve the machine so much and also bringing us amazing emotions, with top qualifying, podiums and also a victory. I must say thank you to them, and also I want to mention the two crews that worked with them as well as all engineers. We can be proud of what we’ve achieved in these fantastic two years. Tomorrow we will start a new adventure with two new riders, it’s going to be an interesting challenge, but I feel confident with the package we have; they will find a performing machine, which can be still improved but which is also a very competitive base to start work on.”
“It’s been a hard race. Honestly I was expecting a little more, I thought the podium was achievable, but at the end of the race it was so hard to keep the pace. I tried my best at the beginning, but then I had to cease position and hold to the end. At the end my feelings are for these two years with Suzuki, we did a very good job, if I think all the struggles we had last year and now we’ve been fighting for podiums consistently in the last part of the season. It’s a good sensation, and also I’m leaving here some people with which we created a very good connection. I’m proud of the job we’ve done together.”
“I had a bad start and then I had to recover some positions, but I struggled in doing it. It was really difficult to overtake, but also I didn’t want to take too many risks at the beginning of the race. Then the pace was good, but couldn’t do better than eighth; it’s not what I hoped but it’s ok. I really enjoyed the race, although my feeling with the front was not perfect. I’m proud of having been a part of the history that we’ve written with this team for Suzuki, the whole team was amazing with me and we really created a family. Also, the bike now is a really good bike, so I’m proud I gave my contribution. I feel I’m not leaving with a complete work, I missed the podium, but all in the team know that I’ve put my 110% every time I wore this blue leather. This weekend has been a really emotional one for me, I’m leaving some good friends and a project that has grown very positively.”
GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA RACE:
1 Jorge LORENZO - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - 45'54.228 2 Marc MARQUEZ - Repsol Honda Team - 45'55.413 + 1.185 3 Andrea IANNONE - Ducati Team - 46'00.831 + 6.603 4 Valentino ROSSI - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - 46'01.896 + 7.668 5 Maverick VIÑALES - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR - 46'04.838 + 10.610 6 Pol ESPARGARO - Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 46'12.606 + 18.378 7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO - Ducati Team - 46'12.645 + 18.417 8 Aleix ESPARGARO - Team SUZUKI ECSTAR - 46'12.906 + 18.678 9 Bradley SMITH - Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 46'20.221 + 25.993 10 Alvaro BAUTISTA - Aprilia Racing Team Gresini - 46'29.293 + 35.065