PETRONAS Yamaha SRT ready for resumption of action in Styria
Two weekends at Spielberg signal the start of the second half of the 2021 season for Valentino Rossi and stand-in rider Cal Crutchlow
This weekend will see the MotoGP paddock roar back into life after the summer break, with two back-to-back weekends of action at the Spielberg circuit. PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Valentino Rossi will be joined at the StyrianGP by Cal Crutchlow, who is filling in for the recovering Franco Morbidelli.
After a five-week summer break, Rossi will be looking to kick off the second half of the season by continuing progress made in the first half and come away from the StyrianGP with a good result. Having only been on the calendar since 2016, after an 18 year absence, the Spielberg circuit is one of the few tracks where the Italian has not been on the podium. However, last year’s two Austrian races saw Valentino enjoy a top five and a top ten result (fifth and ninth).
Joining the Malaysian squad for the two races in Austria and the BritishGP, Crutchlow is looking forward to jumping back on a Yamaha YZR-M1 and being back on the grid – for the first time since the 2020 PortugueseGP. Although the Brit didn’t have the best of races at Spielberg last year, he finished the 2018 edition just shy of the podium – in fourth. Cal’s main focus for the weekend will be to acclimatise to the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT machinery and make steady progress session by session.
Action will begin for Rossi and Crutchlow with Free Practice 1 at 9.55am local time (3.55pm MYT) on Friday, with Sunday’s 28-lap MotoGP race due to get underway at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).
The summer break has been good. I was able to relax and spend some time away with my people, before heading back home for some training on the bikes. It will be nice to be racing again this weekend, but to be honest I’m not sure it is the best track for us. We know the areas where our bike is strong, but there are also areas that we need to improve and I think the Austrian track might not play to our strengths. It is in a very beautiful place though, with a lot of green around it so although it is a difficult track, it is a nice place to be. We will need to try to find the best balance for these next two races, as they are both at Spielberg, and aim to achieve the maximum that is possible for us.
I’m really looking forward to being back on the grid and getting into the swing of a race weekend again, although it’s going to feel very different to the job that I’ve been doing this year as Yamaha’s test rider. The circuit at Spielberg isn’t one that I’ve enjoyed too much in the past, however I did finish fourth in 2018 and that was a good result. It’s not a fast and flowing circuit, it’s somewhere where you need to be quick and very precise. I don’t have a target as such when it comes to results, my main aim will just be to try to improve session by session. I’ll be working with Ramon Forcada, who knows the Yamaha bike very well. I think it will be good as Ramon was with Yamaha when I was. I’m sure it will go well; I just want to make sure that I do a good job for the team.