Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi persevered through a wet first free practice and a dry afternoon session today at the fast and flowing Automotodrom Brno. Despite the great diversity in conditions, the pair made some fundamental first steps in preparation for this weekend’s Monster EnergyGrand Prix Ceské republiky and secured 11th and 14th place respectively in the combined timesheets.
Viñales needed a bit of time in FP1 to get a feel for the damp conditions at the start of the Czech Grand Prix weekend. However, the Spaniard soon started chipping away at his best time and gradually upped his pace. He was 0.644s off the fastest time by the end of the session and wrapped up the morning practice in sixth place with a best lap of 2’05.845s.
The young gun had to start from zero again in the afternoon as track conditions had changed from full wet to dry. He waited at the start of FP2 and closely watched his competition out on track, in order to assess when the right time would be to bring out the slick tyres. Ten minutes into the session, he headed out and worked his way up to 11th place, with a 1’57.289s best lap, 0.957s from first.
Rossi started the tenth MotoGP round eager to get back aboard his YZR-M1 after the four-week summer break. He made good on his promise to hit the ground running, though wet track conditions at Brno meant he had to tread with care. Still he made a strong impression at the beginning of FP1 and kept dropping competitive laps throughout the session. His best time of 2’05.712s, secured him fifth place, 0.511s from the front.
The Doctor showed a consistent form in the afternoon. After ten minutes of waiting for confirmation that the track was dry enough for the slick tyres, he decided to head out. He continued his pace from this morning, which saw him quickly climb up the rankings with a 1’57.456s for provisional fourth place. He spent the remaining nine minutes testing various settings and, despite riding on a used medium rear tyre, ended the session with a 1’57.396s, in 14th place, 1.064s from the top.
Position: 11th – Time: 1’57.289 – Laps: 27
“This morning was a good session. I feel quite good on the wet, though there are still some parts to improve, but honestly, I was feeling quite comfortable on the bike. This afternoon was really difficult, I never felt like that on the Yamaha before, so we have to understand which area is the problem. We need to solve these issues and try to work even harder. We really dont know which area is causing the problem, if we knew we would improve it. The bike is not working at its 100% and we have to try to find out why.”
Position: 14th – Time: 1’57.396 – Laps: 27
“It was a difficult day, but I had some good feelings. I’m happy about FP1 in the wet, because this year we always suffered, but this morning I was strong and not so bad considering the pace. I was able to ride the bike quite well, so I had a good feeling and finished in fifth position, inside the Top-5 isn’t so bad. The afternoon was a bit more difficult, because there were mixed conditions. I think it wasn’t so bad, in the sense that I’m behind, but I didn’t put in the soft rear tyre at the end. I had a problem with one bike, so I had to stop and when I restarted with the other one I preferred to continue with the medium tyre. At the end my position is bad, but if I put in the soft tyre I think I can be more in front. It’s just the first day. We have to work, especially the balance of the bike is not OK, but the feeling is quite good.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“After four weeks of no riding whatsoever for our team, we dedicated todays sessions to giving our riders a good feeling. The conditions of the track changed considerably from the morning session to this afternoons free practice. In the morning, both riders were quite satisfied about the feeling in the wet. This afternoon we had to start from scratch again. Maverick wasnt satisfied about the turning of the bike and he couldnt brake as hard as he wanted. Valentino isnt far from a good set-up. He didnt put in new rear soft tyre, like some other riders did, so his placement doesnt really reflect his pace. Considering that it might rain on Sunday, today we were lucky that we had the possibility to spend an entire practice session in wet conditions. For tomorrow, we definitely have to improve the balance of the bikes of both riders to prepare for qualifying, thats always fundamental for the results of the race.”