A fortnight ago, Viñales secured fourth place in Aragón. He currently holds third position in the championship standings and arrives in Japan ready for action at Yamaha's home race. He received a very warm welcome in Tokyo at today's KITTE event and aims to do the Japanese fans proud as he continues his MotoGP title quest.
Since the Spaniard began his Grand Prix racing career in 2011, he has visited the Motegi podium four times, securing two second places at the Japanese Grand Prix in Moto3 (2012 and 2013), a second place in Moto2 (2014) and a third place in the MotoGP class last year. This year he hopes to climb the top step of the rostrum to add 25 points his tally and close the 28-point gap to first place in the championship standings.
Teammate Rossi made a stunning comeback at the race weekend in Aragón, securing a brilliant fifth place, just 24 days after sustaining a leg injury. The nine-time World Champion used the last two weeks to further rehabilitate his right leg and expects he will be able to ride with more ease this weekend.
In the past years, the Italian booked numerous successes at the Motegi track. Since the circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 1999, he secured two wins in the premier class (2001 and 2008), scored seven second places (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2015), and secured two third places (2010 and 2014). This weekend he aims to score solid points again and reclaim fourth in the overall standings, bridging the two-point gap to the rival ahead of him.
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit was built in 1997 and two years later it was visited by the MotoGP championship for the first time. It was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2000 as the Pacific Grand Prix until it replaced the Suzuka Circuit as the host of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2004. The 4.8 km-long Motegi track has six left and eight right corners and is one of the most popular events on the calendar. Race fans particularly enjoy its stop-start character, tight hairpins and slight elevation changes, as they always result in a weekend full of action.
"The next Grand Prix, held in Japan, is very special for me since it's one of my favourites of the season and it's also the home race of Yamaha. I hope to do a good job and be able to collect more points for the championship, which is crucial to continue fighting for the title. For the next races we have to try to work even more than usual. We have to keep fighting and working with high motivation, even though it will not be easy to complete the last part of the season and bridge the gap between the championship leader and me. I will try to work even harder and I arrive in Japan with the aim to learn and be even stronger. I'm convinced that, with the support of the amazing fans at the Motegi circuit, we will be able to give our 100%."
"After my return to MotoGP in Aragón, the work and my recovery have continued. It was good to have two more weeks after the last race to work on my rehabilitation, because now we will have three races in a row and it will be important to be in a good physical condition. I did everything possible to get pretty fit for the round at the Motegi track, because this is always a very important GP for Yamaha. I like this circuit very much and I'm glad to be here. We will do everything we can to get the best result possible."
"Having made our way to Japan, we are about to enter the very crucial last part of the season. We start with the three back-to-back overseas races before the final round in Valencia. The triple-header is always challenging, because these GPs require a lot of focus, but we are eager to get started. The Japanese Grand Prix is very special for us because it's Yamaha's home race and the passionate fans play a big role in it - their support makes this round a great event for the entire team. Though the Motegi circuit can be quite a challenging track to find a good set-up for because of its stop-start nature, we've booked lots of successes here in the past and will again be pushing to the limit this weekend. Maverick really loves this track and with Valentino's condition improving day-by-day, we are looking forward to a great weekend full of action."