The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team continued work on an unusual second day at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA). Thunderstorms caused the cancellation of FP3, giving Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales just the FP4 track time to get ready for Q2. Despite some treacherous wet patches on the drying circuit, the team-mates didn’t hold back and grabbed second and sixth place respectively on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
After a strong FP4 session, Rossi was quick to head out in Q2 to fully open the throttle once more. A mistake on his first flying lap saw him initially land in 11th place in the timesheets, but his next attempt made him shoot up the order to second.
With six minutes left, he returned to the pit box and still held second place when he came back out. When the times quickened at the end of the session, the Doctor responded by clocking a 2’04.060s, keeping him in second, 0.273s from pole. He had one more try but was unable to edge closer. He will start tomorrow’s race from the middle of the front row.
Viñales let the other Q2 riders leave pit lane ahead of him, ensuring himself of some clear space on track. He was in strong contention at the start of the session. His first hot lap put him temporarily in second place, but as the pace picked up, he was pushed down. He moved back up to fourth on his next try, before heading straight back into the pits with a little more than five minutes to go.
He was soon back out and improved his time once more, but as the pace intensified he found himself in seventh place. Realising how important a front start is at the COTA track, the Spaniard dug deep, and he moved up one more position for a spot on the second row with a 2’04.489s lap, 0.702s from first.
Valentino Rossi, 2nd – 2’04.060
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“It looks like, from the Argentina GP onwards, we’ve been going about it in the right way, and also this weekend we’ve been working well with the team. Today was a difficult day, because this morning we didn’t do the FP3 session. Still I feel comfortable with the bike, also in the half-and-half conditions of FP4, in which we usually tend to suffer. Today, the bike gave me better feedback, so I could push in a better way. In the qualifying I was strong. I’m very happy to start from the front row, because it’s very important for tomorrow. Now we wait to see what the conditions will be like for the race, and then we will try to make the right tyre choice.”
Maverick Viñales, 6th – 2’04.489
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“It was really difficult today in qualifying. Honestly, I didn’t expect the wind would affect the bike’s behaviour so much, it was very difficult to turn in the corners and the bike was very aggressive, moving all the time. I couldn’t push, because I wasn’t feeling at my best. We hope to improve tomorrow and be better during the race. I had many scary moments during qualifying. We need to learn from today, so we won’t have the same problem on another windy day.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“The poor weather conditions from this morning cost us some crucial track time. With FP3 being cancelled, FP4 became even more crucial, but unfortunately the condition of the track was not perfect. The wind picked up too, and was quite strong, so all in all it wasn’t a straightforward qualifying day. Valentino was feeling comfortable in FP4 and it showed in the Q2 session, as he took second place on grid for tomorrow. Maverick suffered from today’s track conditions because it was very different from yesterday’s and unfortunately the bike didn’t behave as it did then. Having our riders start from first and second row is very important for tomorrow’s race. The 20-minute long Warm Up session is always important, but tomorrow even more so, because we need to finalise the set-up and establish the right tyre choice for the race.”