The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team had a testing start to this weekend’s Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina but changed it all around in the afternoon. Wheelspin prevented riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi from being able to push to the fullest in FP1, but they came back strong in FP2, securing third and sixth position respectively in the combined free practice timesheets.
This morning Viñales calmly prepared for Sunday’s race at the Termas de Río Hondo track, steadily upping his pace. He tried various tyre specs and bike settings, to reduce wheelspin in order to be able to put in a good challenge during the important FP2 session. He set a best morning time of 1’41.657s for 18th place, 1.830s from first.
The young gun again displayed his patience in FP2. He used most of the session to make some further set-up changes, before pouncing at the right moment. With 15 minutes of the available time left, the game was on. He quickened his pace to the 1’39s, setting a provisional third fastest lap before the general mini time attacks took place. He responded in the final minutes, concluding the session with a 1’39.345s lap for third place in the FP2 and combined free practice timesheets, 0.164s from first.
Rossi started the Argentina Grand Prix weekend on a more positive note. He worked diligently on his bike’s setting in FP1 in preparation for the race on Sunday. Focusing on bike improvement rather than lap times, he ended the morning practice with a 1’40.827s best lap for tenth place, 1.000s from the top of the timesheets.
The Doctor used the second free practice to further fine-tune the balance of his bike, to match it to Termas de Río Hondo’s layout, setting everything up for a final push at the end of the session. The Italian rider executed the plan to perfection. As various rivals were also trying to put in a hot lap, the Italian avoided traffic and posted a 1’39.441s lap, earning sixth position in both the FP2 and combined free practice results.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider
“Today’s impressions weren’t bad. This track is completely different from Qatar, so the surface is very different and the tyres are working in a different way, so we had to record all the information from today and work really hard, because the bike isn’t at its best yet. The main thing is the rear grip. In Qatar we had a lot of grip, but here we’re struggling. We need to reconfirm everything, trying to work things out, especially the rear grip. Let’s see, we did a great job today, we improved so much compared to this morning, but our rhythm needs to be in the mid-1’39s if we want to be able to win the race. For sure, I will try my best for pole tomorrow. We’re going to work really hard and push for it.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider
“It was a pretty good day because I’ve always been pretty fast. This morning we worked well with the tyres, even with used tyres. In the afternoon we tried other things and at the end I did the time attack. I’m sixth at 0.2s from the first rider, and it isn’t a bad first day. Obviously, there are still so many things to do before the race. We are working well with the team, and I’m happy because I can ride the bike well. There are so many really fast riders, it will be important to stay very focused to be in the top-10.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“The start was a bit tricky today, because this morning the riders suffered from wheelspin, especially Maverick. We had to invest quite a chunk of track time in FP1 and FP2 to tackle this problem but managed to make both riders feel comfortable by the end of FP2, so they can push for a place in Q2. The lap times are close, and the field was dropping the times fast. This means we need to keep pushing at the maximum to achieve our goal of featuring at the top of the timesheets. We still have areas where we can work on to improve and, consequently, we expect to improve our pace. The rear tyre choice still has to be finalised, we have to choose the one we prefer for the race and focus on prolonging tyre life.”