Yamaha Factory rider Valentino Rossi rolled back the years and highlighted why he is the most successful rider at Jerez, riding one of the strongest races of his career to receive a standing ovation as he jumped onto the top step of the podium for the Gran Premio de España.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team dominated the scenes in Spain, with Rossi and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo qualifying in first and second place of the grid.
Starting from pole the nine-time world champion had a strong start and took the holeshot with his team-mate following his every move like a shadow. Two laps of tense racing action followed as they pushed each other to the limit. Rossi tried to make his YZR-M1 as wide as possible as Lorenzo tried to steal the lead. He enjoyed success, briefly, but Rossi immediately struck back, recapturing the lead.
Realising the threat that was coming from behind, the Doctor dropped the fastest lap of the race on lap three, a 1’40.090s, and created a 0.7s gap to Lorenzo and Marquez.
With clear track in front of him and behind him, Rossi put the hammer down and checked out.
Determined to look after his tyres, the Italian lowered his pace a little in the final stages of the race, yet made sure to keep enough space between him and Lorenzo by responding in the right moments, taking the chequered flag 2.386s ahead his closest rival to claim the 113th career victory.
Rossi said: “I hoped I could be strong in Jerez this year, because last year I struggled a lot, so for me it was great, and I think that this was the perfect weekend.
“We started to go faster from Friday morning and we worked very well. The bike, in the race, was fantastic and we worked very well with the team so I have to say “thank you” to the whole Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team, especially my crew.
“I had a good pace and a good start and felt good with the bike from the beginning, so I could push. This victory was very important because it arrived at the right moment; it is a really important victory, starting from the beginning right to the end, so it was great!”
Rossi remains in third position with his first place podium finish, now on 58 points and seven points behind Lorenzo, who is in second place with a total of 65 points, 17 behind Marquez in the championship standings.
The team will be back on track tomorrow at the Circuito de Jerez for a one-day test.