Grand prix

Misano MotoGP: Vinales: Fourth fastest lap as gamble pays off ‘extremely well’ | MotoGP

A set-up ‘gamble’ paid off ‘extremely well’ for Maverick Vinales, who carved his way from 21st to eighth in Sunday’s Emilia Romagna MotoGP.

Returning to the scene of a 13th place with Aprilia the previous month, Vinales looked to be facing a big challenge just to reach the points after qualifying 19th, then losing further places on the opening laps.

Mistakes by other riders helped carry Vinales to 14th by the halfway stage, but he made most of the remaining places up on his own, showing impressive speed whenever he got a clear track.

That included setting what would be the fourth fastest lap of the race, on lap 20 of 27, when the Spaniard was slower than only race leaders Francesco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez.

Vinales went on to catch and cross the line just a few tenths behind team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who had been as high as fifth in the middle stages.

“I’m happy because before the race we made a substantial change to the bike’s balance. It was a gamble, but our goal is to try to get to know this bike better and better,” said Vinales, taking part in only his third race on the RS-GP after the mid-season split from Yamaha.

“It worked extremely well. I had a good pace from the first laps and the only thing that kept me from battling for an even better result was the fact that I had to make up positions from behind.

“I am extremely confident after what we demonstrated today. Step by step, the rider-team-bike package is coming together and that is fundamental.”

Espargaro’s race went in the opposite direction, an early rise from eleventh on the grid being followed by a lack of grip and slide down the order.

Like Vinales, Espargaro picked the medium front and soft rear tyre combination, after a free practice and qualifying complicated by rain.

“I’m happy enough with the points we earned today, especially because my pace wasn’t exactly exceptional. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel good grip at the rear tyre and I struggled throughout the race,” Espargaro said.

“In light of the complications this weekend, leaving Misano with a solid performance is important. We aren’t far from the top seven in the overall standings and we’ll give it our all down to the last race.”

Wild-card Lorenzo Savadori was unable to start the race after breaking his collarbone in practice. The Italian underwent surgery on Saturday evening and, with his Portimao wild-card plans now cancelled, is aiming to return at the Jerez test in mid-November.

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