Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi worked hard on the first day of the Gran Premio Michelin de Aragón race weekend, focusing on improving their bikes‘ set-ups. Their focus and determination were rewarded with a second and third place finish respectively in the combined free practice standings.
Viñales‘ strong liking for the Aragon circuit showed as he began his campaign on Spanish soil. He was excited to get to work and greet his fans at his third home race of the season. The youngster gradually upped his pace, working on the base set-up of his Yamaha and building up momentum for the final minute of the session. The chequered flag was already out when he clocked a 1‘48.486s, taking second place, 1.617s from first.
The positive morning rhythm spurred the Spaniard on even more in the afternoon. He and his crew continued working towards 2020, focusing on the task of preparing the bike and only going for another mini shoot-out at the end of the session because weather conditions are uncertain for tomorrow morning‘s FP3. The local hero pulled it out of the bag. He posted the fastest FP2 lap, a 1‘48.014s, earning him second place in the combined timesheets, 1.145s from the top.
Rossi spent the 45 minutes of the morning free practice session confirming findings and data gathered in Misano in the previous weeks. Rather than putting in a full-on time attack, the Italian worked on his bike‘s set-up to make sure he was ready to pounce in the afternoon. He ended FP1 in 17th place, with a 1‘49.913s best lap and a 3.044s margin to first.
The Doctor looked already more comfortable from the start of the afternoon session. He was fully determined to make further steps and picked the fruits of his labour in the final minutes of FP2 when he shaved off almost 1.9s off his morning time, clocking a 1‘48.071s lap, just 0.057s off the P1 effort from his team-mate. The lap earned him third place in the combined standings, 1.202s off today‘s fastest time.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“Things are going well so far. We‘re trying the new parts at the moment and are working a lot on the bike. I‘m not really concentrating on my rhythm or on setting fast laps, because we need to work a lot on the bike and try to understand in which direction to go. We are working really hard and are very pleased with the lap times because things are going the right way. We need to keep working, keep exploring the new bike items and see if we can get an advantage with the new exhaust. It‘s very important that we‘re inside the top 10, we did a good job today. We‘ve improved a lot in the rain, so I‘m not really worried should it be wet tomorrow. I know that we can be in the top 5 if it rains, so that‘s very important, but our main goal is getting on the first row tomorrow, have a good start on Sunday, and try to move forward. This is a track where I‘ve always been fast, so I‘m very pleased to be in these first places today.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“I’m very happy! In the morning we had a lot of problems, but in the afternoon, in FP2, we were able to improve the electronics, the engine brake, and also the acceleration of the bike, so I feel better now. We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s important to be inside the top 3 on the Friday. The weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t fantastic, so everybody tried really hard to stay inside the top 10 today because FP3 might be wet. Usually when we make improvements in the dry it’s the same in the wet. Maybe we have a chance tomorrow to try and understand if we’re stronger in the wet conditions.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“As a team we really like this track, because its lay-out is great, but it’s not a track where we historically have been very strong. It made these first two sessions a good test. We definitely made a step in Misano in the heat and with low grip, which are circumstances we usually struggle with. Today we once again found ourselves in hot conditions, at a track that doesn‘t play to our advantage, and yet both our riders found a way to be competitive in FP2. We‘re already thinking about and working on next year, and the steps we‘ve made are a clear. Maverick is feeling very good at this track, he was mostly focused on comparing testing items. Vale made a big improvement, gaining almost 2s on the first day. So the first signs are positive, but we have to keep working. We need to close the gap to the front and at the same time be prepared for whatever weather conditions we have to face tomorrow. Having both riders solidly inside the top 10 is definitely a help, should it rain in FP3. We wouldn‘t mind wet conditions for tomorrow because this would also be a good opportunity for us to work towards next year.”