Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales made their first kilometres on European soil of the 2018 MotoGP season during today’s free practice sessions. The pair used their time on track to prepare for Sunday’s Gran Premio de España and ended the day in 9th and 12th place in the combined free practice results
This morning, Rossi needed little time to get reacquainted with the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto. He positioned himself inside the top-3 during his opening laps, before shifting his attention to the balance of his YZR-M1. Making strides with his bike’s settings, he took over at the top of the results with six minutes left on the clock, but ended the session in sixth position with a 1’39.488s, 0.220s from first.
The Doctor continued tweaking his bike’s settings in the afternoon and was pushing hard until a wobble at turn 1 gave him a first warning, right before his usual last 10-minutes mini time-attack. Yet, the Italian still managed to make another step forward, improving his time to a 1’39.248s. He ultimately ended the day in ninth place in both the FP2 and combined free practice results, 0.634s from the top.
Viñales didn’t warm to the Spanish track immediately in the morning session. He struggled to find the same feeling he had in Austin, Texas, but remained determined to put on a good show for the fans. He completed 16 laps in total and got a good impression of where he stands in terms of race pace, before putting in a last-minute hot lap to finish in ninth place, 0.291s from the front.
The local hero used the afternoon session to look for a setting solution. He was able to improve his time to a 1’39.514s, for tenth place in the FP2 session rankings. However, as some rivals had posted quicker times in the morning, the number-25 rider ended the day in 12th place in the combined session times, with a 0.900s-margin to first.
Position: 9th – Time: 1’39.248 – Laps: 34
“It was a difficult day, especially in the afternoon, because in the morning I wasn’t so bad, with the lower temperatures, but unfortunately with the higher temperatures we suffered. I’m not happy with the balance of the bike, we need to improve, but we’re also in trouble with the tyres. After some laps we lose grip and it looks like we have to slow down more than our opponents, so I think that will be difficult, but it’s only Friday. We need to work and improve and we will try to better our understanding tomorrow.”
Position: 12th – Time: 1’39.514 – Laps: 31
“Honestly, today I didn’t have the best feeling. I wasn’t feeling well during FP1 and FP2, it was difficult. In Austin we improved quite a lot, but since coming here the problems started again. The bike is moving around a lot, so we have to keep working and stay focused and we have to push – that’s the only way forward. Vale seems to be having the same problems, our lap times are quite similar. We have to find a solution that works for us.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“We knew that we would have a bit of catching up to do on the first day of riding in Jerez, because we didn’t attend the test here earlier this year, but we expected to be doing better by this stage. Both our riders gave positive feedback about the new asphalt – its surface is better, but grip-wise it wasn’t as good. As in the past, the lap times change quite drastically depending on the temperatures. We used both sessions to collect as much information as possible, trying various set-ups and tyre specifications. Ultimately, when we put on the soft tyre to do the time-attack, our expectations were not met. We have to improve the speed and the pace – the latter is the most important for the race. We only have two sessions to do it, but I’m confident that our engineers will come up with a good solution.”