Maverick Vinales will look to continue his fine run in the 2017 MotoGP season at the Grand Prix of Catalunya, as he looks to capitalise on the poor form of his main rivals.
Both Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez have struggled for consistency this season, with neither finishing on the podium in Italy. As a result, Vinales holds a commanding lead in the standings, with 26 more points than second-ranked Andrea Dovizioso.
Sunday, June 11
WUP start: 8:40 a.m. BST/3:40 a.m. ET
Race start: 1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET
Live stream: BT Sport website (UK), beIN Sports Connect (U.S.)
Vinales’ second-placed finish behind Dovizioso in Italy put the young star in the driver’s seat for the championship, as he increased his lead over veteran Rossi and Marquez, whose dominance of the sport in recent years hasn’t shone through in 2017.
The 22-year-old Vinales was born in Figueres, not all that far from the race track in Barcelona, and per MotoGP’s official Twitter account, it very much is a homecoming for the youngster:
MotoGP™🏁 @MotoGP qatar full race
Championship leader heads home! Can @maverickmack25 extend his points lead at the #CatalanGP? #MotoGP #MangaGP 🎨 @fujiran https://t.co/cWraXBXN3h
Yamaha have held a clear advantage in pace over rivals Honda this season, and Vinales has flashed more consistency than team-mate Rossi, who has been held back by a couple of nagging injuries.
As shared by Motor Cycle News Sport, the 38-year-old had to pass a medical check just to be allowed to race in Italy:
MCN Sport @MCNSport
Good news: @ValeYellow46 has passed his medical and been declared fit to ride this weekend.
Rossi’s qualifying runs have been impressive at times, but the full-length races can be draining, especially on tracks like the Circuit de Catalunya, which features plenty of long, high-speed turns and a very tricky final sector.
Three-time world champion Marquez has always struggled in Catalunya and only has a single win in MotoGP on his resume there. It’s also the home GP for the 24-year-old, but Honda’s struggles mean he’s not favoured to add to his tally.
There are few better technicians in MotoGP, and Marquez is almost unbeatable when he gets the lead―qualifying could be crucial in Barcelona, but Yamaha’s superior power should give the advantage to Vinales.