The tension was palpable during the starting procedure. Spots of rain fell on the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit just 15 minutes before the start of the race, causing chaos on the grid. Though the race was declared wet, a dry line formed rapidly, which resulted in all riders but pole man Jack Miller heading back to pit lane to switch to slicks, leading to a delayed start due to safety conditions.
At 15:15 local track time (GMT-3), the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders headed back out for a quick re-start procedure. Apart from pole-sitter Miller, who was already on slicks during the first starting procedure, the entire rider field was moved to the back of the grid by Race Direction (maintaining the qualifying order), leaving a four-row gap. Despite new spots of rain the teammates opted to begin the race, which was shortened from 25 to 24 laps, on slick tyres.
Once the field got underway, Viñales slotted into 12th place in the first corner. He needed some time to get a feel for the conditions and he dropped back a place, but soon muscled his way through the pack, taking teammate Rossi with him. With 10 laps to go, he overtook Andrea Dovizioso for fifth place and then focused on decreasing an over 13s-gap to the front group.
With a clear track in front of him, the Spaniard put his head down. He was mainly riding in the high 1’40s, but was unable to get closer. The 23-year-old had to let Marc Marquez pass in the last sector of the final lap and crossed the line in sixth place, 14.941s from first. However, due to Race Direction giving Marquez a 30s-penalty after the chequered flag for his race incident with Rossi, Viñales regained fifth position.
Rossi was quick to work his way up to eighth in the rankings. He aimed to close a 2s-gap to the group of riders in front of him, but got into a scrap with Andrea Iannone and had to delay his charge.
The Doctor was soon joined by Viñales, who he followed past Iannone and Hafizh Syahrin to eighth place. Together the teammates rode their bikes to the front of the second group and attempted to reel in the leading pack of four. Rossi was in sixth place, trying to stick to the rear of the number-25 YZR-M1, but the nine-time World Champion’s efforts were disrupted when Marquez collided with him in turn 13 on lap 20, causing the Italian to go wide and crash on the slippery wet grass. Rossi was able to re-join the race, but came no further than a 19th place finish, 52.082s from the front.
Today’s race results see Viñales climb up to fourth place in the championship standings, with 21 points. Rossi dropped back to eighth place, holding a 16-point total. Yamaha remains in third place in the Constructor Championship with 36 points, while Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is now in joint second position in the Team Championship, together with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team, having scored 37 points each.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will be back in action in two weeks’ time at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, in the United States.