Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales kicked off the last European round before the overseas tour. They finished in ninth and tenth place respectively in the combined standings ahead of Sunday’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón.
Rossi needed a little time to get up to speed in the morning session. He spent the majority of the 45 minutes of free practice confirming findings and data gathered at the private Aragon test the team held a few weeks ago. In the final stages he put his head down and briefly moved up to sixth place with a 1’48.958s penultimate lap. He was unable to put in another fast lap, but he still ended the session in seventh place, with a 0.938s margin to first.
The Doctor continued his work in the afternoon session, determined to make another step. He carried on tweaking the bike’s setting and put it to the test in the final minutes of FP2, when the rider field held their usual shoot-out to claim a spot in the provisional combined FP timesheets. The Italian left it until late, but ultimately shaved off almost half a second off his morning result, securing ninth place with a 1’48.501s lap, 1.119s off today’s fastest time.
Viñales likes the Aragon circuit and was excited to start his third home GP of the season. He headed out on track with his special red and yellow livery that matches the Spanish national colours and a helmet that features a sticker on the back referring to Aragon. The youngster gradually built up pace until six minutes before the end, when he clocked a 1’48.803s, equalling the provisional P1 time. However, as the speeds increased towards the end of FP1, the Spaniard dropped to fifth position, 0.783s from first.
In the afternoon the local hero shifted his attention towards the weight distribution of his Yamaha, a vital component at the challenging track at Alcañiz. He kept focused on the task of preparing for Sunday’s race, which is predicted to be held in similar scorching weather conditions. He set the tenth fastest time of the day in the final stages of FP2, with a 1’48.552s lap, 1.170 s from the top of the timesheets.
With all MotoGP riders improving in FP2, Rossi and Viñales hold ninth and tenth place in the combined free practice results, ahead of tomorrow morning’s FP3 session.
Position: 9th – Time: 1’48.501 – Laps: 35
“It’s very important to stay inside the top-10, because it will be a difficult weekend, as historically we always suffer more here than in Misano. Already there our performance wasn’t fantastic. The problem here is also that, although I’m inside the top-10, the gap to the front is big. So it will be hard, we have to stay concentrated and try to work in all the areas on all the small details, and try to make the result as good as possible.”
Position: 10th – Time: 1’48.552 – Laps: 31
“I think the track is much better than when we were here last for testing. I don’t know why, but the bike is not working the same way as it was back then. We have to keep working, stay patient, and try to do our best. We’ve kept the setting completely the same, but it’s not working. We have zero grip on the rear tyre, that’s the feeling I have, and the tyres look very damaged when I return to the garage. During the test we could do 30 laps on each tyre and it was perfect. We’re trying to figure out what the problem is, but it’s difficult. So, the test was not very useful for today – I feel very different out on track, but I myself am feeling really good, it’s just that the bike is working differently. We now need to gather information and prepare for tomorrow.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“It was a very difficult first day here in Aragon. What we found three weeks ago during the test is not working at all, even though the conditions of the track today were even better than they were then. There’s not just one area where we are suffering, indeed there are many. Also, the tyres are making our difficulties even bigger. Although it won’t be easy, we’ll try to give the riders the best package to fight in tomorrow’s qualifying.”