As if it wasn’t already a tough enough day for Yamaha, Maverick Vinales – along with Honda’s Franco Morbidelli – has now been handed a grid penalty for Sunday’s Aragon MotoGP.
Vinales will drop three grid places (from 11th to 14th) and Morbidelli six places (from 14th to 19th) after both were judged to have been ‘riding in an irresponsible manner, being slow on the racing line’ and ‘disturbing another rider’ in qualifying.
Marc VDS rookie Morbidelli got a harsher penalty than Vinales as it was a repeat offence.
The reshuffle means that Johann Zarco becomes the top Yamaha on the grid, in 12th, Vinales having been the only M1 rider to make this afternoon’s Qualifying 2 session. Factory team-mate Valentino Rossi starts 18th.
The revised MotoGP grid after penalties for Vinales and Morbidelli…#AragonGP #MotoGP pic.twitter.com/LyHjWZcPVY
— CRASH.NET/MotoGP (@crash_motogp) September 22, 2018
Lots of riders were seen maneuvering for a tow during today’s MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 qualifying sessions, partly due to the long back straight.
Pole position holder Jorge Lorenzo joked it was “like the Tour de France” and felt penalties were needed for riders waiting on track, especially in MotoGP: “In MotoGP we have the best riders, with the most experience and the biggest bikes. So, in my opinion, they shouldn’t need to wait but it was like a Moto3 race.”
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso agreed it’s “not nice” but didn’t feel penalties were needed today.
World champion and fellow front row starter Marc Marquez, who was seen trying to follow Dovizioso, shrugged: “Racing is like this. Riders always try to follow the faster ones because it’s easier. If you want to stop this completely you have to change qualifying .
“The good thing in MotoGP is that if you slow down too much, the tires will not be ready to make the lap time anyway.”
While the penalty statements don’t name the rider(s) that were disturbed by Vinales and Morbidelli, KTM’s Bradley Smith said they were both loitering at the end of the back straight in Qualifying 1:
“My situation was just dangerous. You can’t sit at the end of a back straight like they were. I caught Maverick unawares, Maverick tried to open, but if you’re doing 150km/h and you open, you can’t accelerate to 300km/h, it just doesn’t happen. And Franco just didn’t look behind. So Franco was just downright dangerous.
“Simeon found himself in a similar situation, if he’s a little bit more to the inside, basically you had three guys in the braking area, and you just can’t do that.”
The Englishman said he doesn’t have a problem with riders pulling over before the braking area and revealed it’s not just a matter of getting a slipstream on the straight.
“It’s frustrating when guys pull over, but it’s part of the game. MotoGP is so close now that if you can follow someone, get a bit of a tow, that’s obviously going to improve your time. We don’t see it very often in MotoGP, to be honest, as much as it was today, but it shows how important it is here in Aragon.
“I think it’s just the nature of this track, to have a bit of a reference here seems to help [as much as a tow]just eyes up and looking through the corner.”