With a passion for racing comes the drive to be the best – and in the case of Maverick Vinales, the passion comes with a bit of drama.
According to reports from MCN and The-Race, Maverick Vinales has just requested an early end to his contract with Yamaha.
Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis has said in a statement:
“It is with sadness that we will say farewell to Maverick at the end of the year. We are in the middle of our fifth season together, and over the years, we have achieved many highs but also had to manage many lows.”
The news came after a frustrating day for the rider at the Sachsenring German Grand Prix last weekend.
The Spaniard completed his worst round yet, qualifying 21st and finishing the race in last position, with a quote afterward that showed the racer’s frustrations on the matter.
“I always have the same problem, and that is that the rear wheel skids a lot,” Vinales says, frustrated. “I have been saying it since Portimao, and there is no solution. Yes, it is true that we are working, but six races have already passed to find a solution.”….I’m sorry, but with this bike, it’s impossible. When I arrived at Franco [Morbidelli] I overtook quite well. Just in the first try, I overtook him because against a Yamaha, it is much easier, but with the Ducati, it’s so hard.”
Vinales shows his true racer’s spirit with the next admittance:
“I really try to be calm. I try to work; I try to do everything. But the result is the same. And then if you have a Ducati in front of you, the frustration is incredible.”
Understandable when worded like that – and it’s not like Vinales doesn’t have other wins to show.
The rider bagged a pole position and finished second at Assen, just a few days after the unfortunate incident at the Sachsenring.
When it comes to the young rider’s talents, the proof is in the pudding – though the damage is already done for his team.
“After the German GP, which was the most difficult weekend of our partnership, we had important discussions in Assen”, says Jarvis, “and came to the conclusion that it would be in the interest of both parties to go our separate ways in the future.”
Vinales still plans on finishing his remaining time with Yamaha strong, and there is talk of a potential move to Aprilia or Aramco Racing Team VR46 – now signed on with Ducati.
In the meantime, the importance of his time at Yamaha hasn’t been lost on him.
“This partnership has been very significant to me over the last five years, and it proved a difficult decision to part ways. In these seasons together, we experienced both great achievements and tough times. However,”, Vinales admits, “the underlying feeling is of mutual respect and appreciation. I am fully committed and will strive to achieve the best results for the rest of the season.”
Our hats off to the man, and may his drive to ride continue to guide his instincts – both on and off the track.
“Today’s was truly a spectacular victory! I have finally managed to win at Valencia, which for me and for Ducati has always been rather a tough track. The first race was very difficult, because Rins started off really strong. I stayed clam however and reeled him in, but Rossi was also recovering and he was very quick so I had to manage the situation while the rain was increasing lap after lap. In the second race we managed to make all the difference because we were able to use a new tyre we hadn’t used in the morning warm-up as well as making a small change to the set-up. I’m really pleased with the way we worked together with the team and to have been able to give them this win, which really helps cheer everyone up. It was a great way to finish the season!”
Alex Rins – P2
“I’m very happy and we made had an incredible weekend. During the first part of the race I was leading for twelve or thirteen laps and I pulled a good gap, but when the rain came Dovizioso and Rossi caught me. For the second half of the race, after the stoppage, I had more or less the same strategy; I tried to get the best start possible, and I pushed a lot because I really wanted the podium and fifth place in the championship. It feels great to have another podium. I hope next year I’ll be at the front in almost all the races, we got a lot of experience this year and I think we’re ready for it.”
Pol Espargaro – P3
“It’s unreal. I felt good all weekend in wet and dry conditions. I was playing around all weekend with a few Yamahas and I was fast; I could do good lap-times. To always be in the top eight was building my confidence up. It was wild out there. The red flag was like a ‘message’ because the bike was still working after that big crash and I said to myself ‘man, this is your opportunity, take it’. I just pushed and Valentino was so fast, super-fast. I stayed in that position and was safe, then I fought with Dani but could finally finish in third position. After this year it is unbelievable for me, for my team, wife and all the crew around me. Finally we are super-happy with the results for KTM today. You don’t know how much effort and investment they are putting in the project and for them to finish the year in those positions was amazing.”
Michele Pirro – P4
“It was a difficult race because I crashed in the first part, damaging the bike a bit, but I was able to get back on and then the race was interrupted. After the restart, I managed to run at a good pace and I’m disappointed only because I missed out on a podium by just over a second. I’m very pleased however because after my crash at Mugello I once again did a good MotoGP race and Ducati won again at Valencia after many years, which is important for all of us.”
Dani Pedrosa – P5
“For sure I had a particular feeling before today’s race, knowing that the moment of my final race had arrived. Well, actually it turned out that I had two! Unfortunately the weather was really tricky. In both races, I struggled so much with the rear and couldn’t really get on the gas. I was actually expecting to have a better feeling in the second race, as there was less water on the track. But we changed the tyres and I had no grip, so I could only try and finish the race with no crashes. It’s a bit of a shame, but when I got back to the pits, I found everybody waiting for me—the team, my family, my people—and there was a very emotional atmosphere. I was pleased to see their emotion. It meant a lot to me. Now I’ll have several events to attend, but after that I’ll try and have some time to myself and relax a bit before next year.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P6
“It was really tough. I was scared on every lap, each corner, but it’s an amazing feeling. It’s a little bit strange, I never thought I’d finish as the top independent rider, but it’s an amazing day for me and a great race. There was a lot of pressure, but last night Cal (Crutchlow) texted me and told me to concentrate, make no mistakes and, because I had nothing to lose, push hard. That was great, so thanks to him, and also to my team, it’s an unforgettable day. It’s so good to finish the season like this and now we will look to next season, starting with the test here on Tuesday. But tonight we will definitely have a party!”
Johann Zarco – P7
“It has been a tough Sunday. We had a lot of rain in the grid and I got a good feeling on the first start. The rain was so strong and the level of the water on track was pretty complicate to control. We saw many crashes happen. I could do my laps and have a good position. After the restart the others were faster than me and I could not follow them, but the target was to finish the race, be the first independent rider, which was our main goal at the beginning of the year and I’m so happy I managed to fulfil it. It’s pretty good for me and the team, plus our history with Yamaha, because we did the last two years on a very great level. I’m really proud and happy about that situation. It was possible to fight for the top 5 in the championship, but this weekend, Alex Rins has been very fast. He rode perfectly, so congratulations to him! He deserves this position. Finally, I want to say, thank you to everybody for the two amazing years I had together with Tech3. I’m happy about the move for next year, because we will still share very good moments, even if we are not in the same garage during the race weekend.”
Bradley Smith – P8
“Some things are just meant to be. I was pushing back to get to bike No.2 just to finish the race because there was only fifteen guys at that point. I did not want to ‘go out’ like that, with a crash and thinking ‘what could have been’: that’s not what I’m about. I was running inside the top ten and my ambition this weekend was to get six points so I might be able to beat Pol in the championship. I got eight but he did a fantastic job today. It was obviously great to see and great for the team and all the boys. I’m happy I go out on my ‘high’ this was my best result. I cannot ask for much more.”
Stefan Bradl – P9
“First of all I would like to say thank you to HRC and LCR for the support and help I have received after replacing Cal for these two races. I also wish Cal well and hope he can return next year even stronger on the bike. I enjoyed working with LCR again, there are still a lot of things I remember from the past. Today was an incredibly difficult race as you could see from the track condition, the amount of water there was incredible and there were many crashes. My confidence in the wet was not great because I don’t have any experience riding the MotoGP bike in the wet, so for this reason I needed some laps to feel good. It took a while, but in these conditions it’s easy to make mistakes and I’m happy I finished the race in ninth position. It’s ok and thanks to the team for all their efforts.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P10
“First of all, I just want to say thank you very much to my team. We didn’t expect, that we can arrive in the top 10 in wet conditions. There was a lot of drama, many riders crashed. We stopped the race and I was in P10. We believed that we can give a challenge to the other riders. For me, it was the first time, that I could do a full race in the wet, I learned many things. In the end, I’m just four points behind the best rookie, Franco Morbidelli. Congratulations to him! Anyway, I did my best. I want to thank all our sponsors, all my family and fans, that come to support me. I’m really happy to be here in MotoGP. Next week we start a new journey and I will keep on working hard. Thank you very much to everybody!”
Scott Redding – P11
“This was a rather dangerous race. At the start, I couldn’t see anything, there was so much water being kicked up by the other bikes. Only when I had some free track in front of me was I able to pick up the pace a bit. The bike was doing a lot of aquaplaning, like the others were, and the numerous crashes are a demonstration of that. I think it would have been right to stop the race earlier than it was. The conditions were truly risky. I think that my biggest limitation today was the rear tyre cooling down. I was constantly at the limit with grip, even trying to take it very easy on the throttle. After the second start, things were substantially the same for me and, considering the many riders who retired, at a certain point I was just thinking about taking home the best possible result.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P12
“So we’ve arrived at the end of my period in Ducati and I wasn’t able to do the race that I wanted. The conditions were really complicated and it was easy to make a mistake and crash so I preferred not to take too many risks, given the state of my wrist. I did the best I could on this track but I was unable to be competitive. I feel bad for the team because I wanted to say goodbye to them with a good result, but in any case I want to remember all the positive things in the last two years. Even though we know we weren’t able to obtain what we wanted to achieve when I joined Ducati, this year’s wins were really special and I will always have a special place for them in my heart. The rapport with the team has been magnificent: they have always helped me in difficult moments and we have established a friendship that goes beyond mere racing. The professional level of all the engineers and technicians is very high and together we were able to make the Desmosedici GP one of the most competitive bikes on the grid, something that makes me very proud. I also want to thank all the Ducatisti for the support they have given me since the very first day I came to the factory at Borgo Panigale. I will never forget these two years together and a part of my heart will always be a Ducatista.”
Valentino Rossi – P13
“The feeling was very bad, because the conditions were tricky with four laps to go. We needed this result for my team and Yamaha, to finish the season in a nice way, but unfortunately I made a mistake. It’s a great shame. It was a very similar crash to the one in Malaysia. We don’t understand very well what happened. Maybe at the end we need to pay more attention. Still, it remained a good performance. Until that moment I enjoyed it, because I was strong, and I remained in third place in the championship, which is important.”
Karel Abraham – P14
“The race was very hard, because in the first part I was riding on a wet track and I was doing well against several top riders. When it started to rain, it became more difficult. In the second half I started well and I felt comfortable, but when it started to rain again I focused on finishing the race and getting back among the points. In the end, we finished, we took two points and I’m happy. This is a sad moment because I’m leaving the team with which I have spent two years, after some great moments with them. I will see them again in the paddock but it won’t be the same. I’m very happy and I want to thank the Ángel Nieto Team for two great seasons. I hope that in the future our paths will cross again. The whole team are amazing and have done a great job. It feels bad to leave them, but the next chapter is waiting for us.”
Jordi Torres – P15
“Today was a good day. Yesterday I rode six or seven laps in dry conditions and I had no force left in my hand whatsoever. We were aware that dry conditions would be difficult for us, but in the wet I knew I would be able to finish the race. I had a good start, but on the first laps there was zero visibility because of the spray from the other bikes. Visibility improved with every lap and I tried to follow the group in front of me, but as everybody could see, it was quite easy to crash in today’s conditions. Then they decided to stop the race. In the second heat I tried to ride as smoothly as possible, because the target was to finish the race and to secure our first point, which we did. I want to say a big thank you to my team because they did a fantastic job to adapt the handlebar to my hand and to Dr. Mir, because he did a master job with my hand and only one week after the surgery I was able to race”.
Marc Marquez – DNF
“Today I had a big high-side, but the shoulder was okay, just a bit painful from yesterday. Unfortunately, it was a mistake that I chose the medium rear tyre on the grid, as that turned out not to be the best option. I said sorry to the team, as it was my decision; I had felt really good on it in FP3, but when it began to rain heavily after the start, everything became very difficult and got worse and worse, as it was difficult to keep the temperature in the tyre. Anyway, now it’s time to enjoy these final moments having achieved the Triple Crown, which is something really special. The season has been very good, one of my best, without too many mistakes; today’s was probably my worst one. I’m really proud of my 2018 season, but a new one begins on Tuesday.”
Andrea Iannone – DNF
“I wanted to end the season in a good way, but it couldn’t be done. I was recovering positions and I was at the front of my group, but the conditions were really hard and I lost the rear of my bike. In any case, racing can be like this sometimes. I didn’t want to give up and I wanted to push hard, and perhaps this was the reason. This year has not been very easy but we’ve had a lot of really positive moments and it’s been a pleasure for me to work with these incredible people and this great factory. On Monday I’ll start a new chapter and a new adventure. Good luck to Alex, Joan Mir, and Suzuki for the future.”
Aleix Espargaro – DNF
“I am angry because today we had a great opportunity. We showed that we were strong and competitive throughout the weekend, even in the warm up session. With good sensations, a good pace, consistent and fast in the wet. With that rain, I tried to be careful in the early laps and maintain my position, anticipating a race that was sure to be very long. I had a high side on turn three, which is a bad place to crash, but the track conditions were really at the limit and visibility was practically zero. I think that the red flag should come out before the riders start crashing and that it should be used to prevent the accidents.”
Maverick Vinales – DNF
“After the crash, I feel OK. I have no big injuries, only some pain in my shoulder. Anyway, it’s been difficult, because I had a technical problem that didn‘t allow me to be faster at the start of the race. But then I concentrated so well, and I tried to ride very fast. I risked a lot, because for the championship I just needed to be in front of Valentino and he was riding really fast. It was a pity I had this issue, because without it, I would have been at the front fighting with Álex and Dovi. Anyway, we have to be happy that this is the third wet race where we are challenging at the front. I came back very strong from towards the back. Honestly, I’m happy the last five races have been so good. I was consistent and I felt very confident. We understand the bike and found out in which direction we needed to go, and we regained our confidence, so that’s something to take away from 2018. It’s important to understand what happened at the beginning of the season, so we can be smart and don’t make the same mistakes. Now it’s important to try the engines during the upcoming test, but I’m very happy with Yamaha. We are excited to start and I’m very motivated!”
Franco Morbidelli – DNF
“This was good race for me. It was exciting and I was having fun because I started from 15th position was in fifth when I went out. When the heavy rain came and conditions started to get dangerous I didn’t slow down as I should have so I ended in the gravel and didn’t get the bike back to the box in time for the re-start. I was fast in the wet conditions and this makes me very happy.”
Tom Luthi – DNF
“The final race of the season ended little early but there were some positives because I could fight with and overtake some other riders. The crash was a sad moment but I had aquaplaning with the rear wheel and high-sided. The conditions were quite tricky and I was not the only one to crash like this. I didn’t score any points but I was determined to get the best out of this race so it was important to take a chance and feel the limit.”
Álvaro Bautista – DNF
“It was a shame to end the season like that, but that’s racing. In the end, these things happen in the wet. In the first race it started to rain too much and they did well to stop. In the second part I felt better, with more confidence, but at Turn 12 the rear stepped out and I was thrown off the bike. It has been a good year and we have to be happy with what we have achieved. I’ve loved the people in the World Championship during my time here, and I’ve received a lot of affection from the fans. I hope they continue to love me as much -or more- next year when I’m in Superbikes.”
NB: Yet to receive quotes from Miller and Petrucci
Herve Poncharal – Tech3 Team Manager
“Finally the 2018 season is over. It was almost a season that never wanted to stop, because we thought we would have our last start in Valencia and then we had another start. So, as I was telling some of our guests, don’t complain, you have two starts for the price of one. Anyway, it’s been in a way a difficult weekend, because the weather was not what you expect for the big finale, not what you expect in sunny Valencia, but at the end of the day, it made it very exciting, very unpredictable, of course with a lot of crashes, when you have so little grip. But overall, I think it made the races maybe even more interesting and exciting than what it would have been in the dry, because you saw some strange results and a different podium. I want to say, that I am very happy and very proud that for the second year in a row Johann Zarco managed to clinch the best independent rider, sixth in the championship. I think this is quite an achievement. Today he was again the first Yamaha. I know we were not the fastest, but it was important to stay on your wheels today and finish the race and this is what Johann did. Two years ago we started the adventure with Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger and after two years with Johann we are twice best independent rider and last year’s rookie. I think we did a good job together and I’m proud of what we have done. I just want to thank Johann a lot for his two seasons with us. He has been a very professional rider, he has been fast, he has been clever and I wish him good luck for his new challenge. On the other side, Hafizh Syahrin had a tough weekend, because he almost never rode the MotoGP bike with the Michelin tyres in the wet, so it was a good weekend to learn and I think he learned a lot. His nickname is ‘Pescao’, which normally means fish and usually a fish is happy when you have a lot of water. But clearly, although tenth position is maybe not what he was dreaming of, but I think he had a solid weekend and from FP1 on Friday to today the improvement of his riding style, of the gap to the top has been unbelievable. Clearly, this guy has a very special feeling on the wet and the feeling he was having in the Moto2 is coming in the MotoGP. I’m also very glad, that he could witness how good his future bike is on the wet condition, because this is a big challenge for all of us. Hafizh is part of this challenge and from Tuesday morning we will start a new chapter of our life as a team. Before ending my quote, I would like one more time to thank Yamaha a lot from the bottom of our hearts from the whole team, our two riders: big, big thank you to everybody, Yamaha management, engineers, because all what we’ve done during these last two seasons with Johann and this year with Hafizh has been possible because of the great support we had from Yamaha. So, this is the end, again thank you very much.”
Luigi Dall’Igna – Ducati Corse General Manager
“It was a great win in a really tough race: conditions today, especially in the first part, were so difficult and Dovizioso was on top form and he managed to administer a very complicated situation in an intelligent way. Making a mistake in these conditions is always easy but Andrea was simply perfect. Pity about Jorge, who unfortunately struggled in his last race with us, while I’m so pleased with the fourth place by Michele Pirro, who after a crash in the first part made an extraordinary recovery to finish the race just off the podium.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It’s disappointing to end both the race weekend and the season in this manner, especially considering how well Valentino and Maverick were riding in the first race. After this morning’s Warm Up, we knew that Vale had a good chance to be competitive at the front, even though he had to start from 16th on the grid. To me his riding was super impressive – he was fighting for the lead! But then the red flags came out, so that meant he had to start from third. He was again strong in the restart, so it’s a great shame that he didn’t get the result today that matched his pace and also his efforts. Maverick was very unlucky in the first race. He managed to ride around the problems a technical issue was giving him and was competing in fourth place. Had just set a new personal best lap when he crashed at very high speed. Of course, the first priority is that he’s OK, and we’re glad that he didn’t sustain any major injuries. However, it was a pity that he crashed during lap 12 and the restarting grid was based on the results as of the start of lap 13. Clearly this is not the way we wanted to finish the season, but our riders really pushed hard in very difficult conditions today, so we couldn’t have asked for more. It was a difficult season overall, but towards the end we made progress, which is the direction we will continue to work in starting from the first official testing days, held this Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Mike Leitner – KTM Team Manager
“For the whole KTM group and Red Bull this was a fantastic day. We knew a result like this would be possible because we were ‘there’ in dry and wet conditions, especially with Pol but Bradley was there as well. To finish the season with a podium and eighth position for Bradley is very nice. It is great that he leaves in that way and we wish him all the best with his future. I don’t think we expected this podium but it was super-crazy and for Pol to recover from a crash, come in and focus again and perform again to make the podium is a wonderful story that I don’t think anybody would have believed this morning!”
Pit Beirer – KTM Motorsports Director
“I said all year that we are better than we could prove on paper because we had injured riders and we were not so lucky. We fell into a big hole in Sachsenring at a time when we were first in warm-up with a new bike and we thought ‘now we’ll make progress’ but Pol injured himself at the next race. Everything went wrong. There was a critical moment two months ago when we looked at the new bike and elements like the chassis and, together with strong people at the factory, we decided to stick to the plan because we were sure we were on the right way. It was important not to lose the direction and today was the first big payback. We had Pol completely free of pain and with a good feeling. In this sport you need super-fit riders to compete on this level. This is a big payback for the whole company. I think every single department in KTM was somehow integrated to make this project work and the whole race team and everybody else put in so many hours. Third place is perhaps more than we expected today but this is the best way to give something back to racing people: a result. It means so much and it is difficult to find the right words how I feel.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager
“From Motegi to here we’ve managed to take four consecutive podiums and three consecutive second places – this is incredible and I’m very happy. Today was Andrea’s last race with us and unfortunately he crashed despite performing well. I want to thank him very much for these two years together, I’ll never forget working with him. Alex has matured so much this season and achieved a lot, so we’re really looking forward to next year, we feel a win is coming!”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“We’ve achieved another podium, which is a great way to finish this season! We got nine in total, which is a record for Suzuki in the MotoGP era. Four of these nine podiums came from Andrea and today was a real pity for him, because he showed good speed and I feel we could’ve had both riders at the front. I’m really sorry for Andrea that his race ended in this way, and I want to say thank you to him for these past two years together. He gave an important contribution to our development thanks to the internal competition that Alex and him created, I want to wish him all the best for his carreer. Alex’s attitude in these very tricky conditions was impressive, he was able to push and control everything well. In both parts of the race he was very strong and I’m really pleased with his performance. We hope to keep hold of this happy feeling throughout the winter.”
2018 Valencia MotoGP Results
Circuit Ricardo Tormo, 27 laps, 108.1 km (1 lap: 4.005 km)