Action got underway at the Automotodrom Brno circuit today with the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Monster Energy Grand Prix Ceské republiky. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales initially struggled to find the right set-up on the first day of the Czech GP, but persevered. He caught up at the end of the afternoon session, securing sixth position in the combined rankings. Valentino Rossi spent the scorching hot day improving his pace and rode to seventh place in FP2.
Viñales had a quiet start to the first GP of the second half of the season. Having stood on the podium at the previous two rounds, he followed the same procedure and tried out different set-up approaches in the morning practice. He concluded FP1 in 14th position with a 1’57.764s, 1.117s from first.
The Spaniard displayed his determination in the afternoon. He continued the preparation for Sunday’s race, not letting the heat get to him. His hard work paid off at the end of the session when he dropped into the low 1’56s, setting a fastest time of 1’56.392s for sixth place in today’s combined times, 0.416s from first.
Rossi had an encouraging start to the morning session, putting his YZR-M1 in second place on his opening lap. He then swiftly moved on to putting his attention towards finding a perfect balance for his bike. As the session progressed he improved and he rounded off the morning practice with a best time of 1’56.888s for fifth place, 0.241s from the top of the rankings.
The Italian picked up work where he left off in the FP2 session, remaining only focused on improving his bike’s race set-up. In the final stages the Doctor had one final push, despite the draining weather conditions, and bettered his morning time by nearly half a second with a 1’56.480s lap. He ended the first day of practice in seventh position in the combined free practice standings, 0.504s from the front.
Position: 6th – Time: 1’56.392 – Laps: 22
“It’s been good, because I think the bike was not working perfectly yet, but we’re still quite close to the top, especially with our rhythm. We have to keep working, there’s room to improve and we need to keep pushing. The feeling with the tyres is good, I felt good the whole time with all types of tyres, we just need to make it work. Honestly, today has been difficult, it was really hot. It seems it will be like this the whole weekend, so we have to hurry up on the set-up because at the moment it’s not ready yet. I will try to keep up the pace I had at the previous GPs. Brno maybe isn’t the best track for me, but the bike is working well. We know we can do great.”
Position: 7th – Time: 1’56.480 – Laps: 28
“Being back on the bike is always a good feeling. Today the conditions were very difficult because it was very hot, so physically it’s very demanding and it’s especially hard on the tyres. In fact, the level is still a bit difficult to understand. A lot of top riders tried different tyre options. I tried the soft and the medium, but not the hard option, which isn’t looking so bad because here the tyre degradation – especially the rear – is quite high. After some laps the rear slides quite a lot, so we still have a lot of work to do. We’ll see what our pace will be like tomorrow.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“It’s not been an easy start to the second part of the season, mainly because of the heat here in Brno. Usually we suffer in these kind of circumstances with high temperatures. We still have work to do on the set-ups, but in general the riders’ feelings with the bikes were not so bad in the first sessions. We have to deal with the lack of grip – mainly on the rear – and improve this aspect using electronic and mechanical solutions. We’ve also tried most of the tyre specs and tomorrow we will test the remaining options to find the best one for the race.”