Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi kicked off the Grand Prix of The Americas showing good form. Making the most of the perfect riding conditions in today’s two free practice sessions, the teammates both aimed for a top-10 finish, in case of rain tomorrow, and fulfilled their goal securing third and fourth place respectively in the combined free practice times.
Viñales used FP1 to reproduce his strong form at COTA from last year. Though the forceful thrust of the MotoGP bikes made the dust fly everywhere in the first free practice session, the 23-year-old was quick to show a competitive pace. He worked diligently on his bike’s settings throughout the morning and put his head down in the final stages. He earned third place in the FP1 results, with a 2’06.257s best time and a 0.727s margin to the top.
Feeling encouraged by his strong start in FP1, the Spaniard gave another strong performance during the second 45-minute session. Having bettered his bike, he soon dropped a 2’07s lap and went on to secure third place in the final minute, setting a 2’04.863s lap, 0.264s from the front.
Rossi stuck to his plan to get a top-10 time in FP1. He showed a good pace in the morning and got into a solid rhythm. The Italian steadily dropped his times and frequently posted provisional top-3 laps. He ultimately slotted into second with a 2’05.926s lap, directly ahead of his teammate, and held on to this position with a 0.396s margin to first place.
The nine-time World Champion also had a productive session in the afternoon. Once again pushing hard, he worked on fine-tuning his bike’s balance, the tyres and the electronics. Finding himself in eighth place, with six minutes to spare, Rossi headed back out to put the hammer down. He set a 2’04.958s on his penultimate lap to ultimately take fourth place, 0.359s from first.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates’ FP2 results earned them the third and fourth place respectively in the combined times, ahead of tomorrow’s sessions.
Position: 3rd – Time: 2’04.863 – Laps: 16
“FP2 went quite well and I’m quite happy over all, even considering we didn’t try the soft at the end because in the beginning I didn’t feel good on the soft on the first laps. I still think we could have had good potential on the soft. So, I think we still have a margin to improve. We started better than we did on the previous two tracks. I hope we can go faster and have a bit more stable bike for tomorrow.”
Position: 4th – Time: 2’04.958 – Laps: 17
“The second session has been positive again because I was fourth and pretty fast. We worked on the race pace because with the medium tyres there’s a bit less grip, so we still have some work to do, but the feeling is positive. The track was a bit better than this morning. Let’s see what the weather is tomorrow, although the forecast says rain.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“It was a pretty good first day for us here. COTA has quite a unique character and with the tricky conditions of this morning, Maverick and Valentino were given a bit of a challenge. However, both riders felt comfortable on their bikes right from the start of FP1 – even if the conditions of the track were pretty bad – and rode fast times. They clearly showed that they have good pace and speed. In the afternoon, we tried to improve the bikes’ set-up, especially focusing on creating better bump absorption, which is critical, and we also tried to improve rear grip. We were also able to try two of the three tyre options, but most of all it was important to finish within the top-10. The weather forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look good, but even if it rains, thanks to today’s results we will automatically promote to Q2.”
Zarco and Syahrin Wrap Up Day 1 at the Americas GP
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Johann Zarco concluded the opening day at the Circuit of the Americas in 13th position, following a significant improvement of 1.191 seconds from FP1 to the FP2 in the course of a quite tricky day. Yet, the French star is eager to increase his pace during the third Free Practice, which commences at 9.55 local time tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Hafizh Syahrin initially had to learn one of the most demanding tracks of the MotoGP calendar aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The premier class rookie mastered his task to perfection, lowering his lap time by impressive 2.6 seconds from the first session to the second, which made him earn the top rookie honors again by the end of day one.
Position: 13th – Time: 2’05.933 – Laps: 29
“This was a difficult first day in Texas. This morning I was unlucky with some mechanical issues, so I couldn’t work like I wanted. In the end, the laps I did were quite good. In the afternoon, we were honestly struggling a lot. During the practice, I had some good feelings and I thought we could improve with the soft tyre, but finally it has been even worse with the soft one. It’s kind of strange and it’s a pity, because we are not inside the top 10. I hope that it will be dry, so I can push during FP3 and over all be able to have a good bike and find my pace.”
Position: 16th – Time: 2’06.219 – Laps: 30
“I felt really good in FP2, we improved a lot. Eventually I had some great sensations. By the end of the session, I was very close to Lüthi, but Nakagami crashed in front of him, so we both had to slow down, which was unfortunate, because I had a lot of confidence with the bike and I think I could have been even faster. In the end, it was a mistake in planning my strategy, but I think that I can do better tomorrow. I hope the weather stays like this and we can get closer to the front in the course of the weekend.”