Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales slowly turned up the heat at the first free practice sessions of the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. As the temperatures rose, the teammates upped their speed to secure 11th and 12th place respectively in the combined free practice timesheets.
It was a busy first day at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo for Rossi. For the nine-time World Champion, the goal in the morning session was to find a solid base setting, one he could develop further throughout the weekend. Whilst working his way through various setting options, he set a time of 1’32.538s to finish in 18th position, 1.493s behind the leader.
In the afternoon, the Doctor wasted no time to pick up where he left off in the morning. He was eager to get out on track and briefly led the way, before continuing to fine-tune his bike’s setting. As the times dropped towards the end of the session, he responded by bettering his fastest lap to 1’31.488s for ninth, but just missed out on a place inside the top-10 overall. He finished the day in 11th place in the combined results, 0.848s from first.
Though the Spanish sunshine gave a false impression of a late summer day, Viñales headed out in FP1 in chilly conditions, curious to find out what the grip level would be like while the track temperature only measured 12ºC. He made a cautious start, but gradually found confidence, all the while improving his time. Ultimately, he dropped under the 1’32s mark on his third run, clocking a 1’31.750s best lap, for sixth place, 0.705s from the front.
The afternoon saw more of the same from the local hero. As the temperature went up, he again spent most of the session working on the balance of his YZR-M1, whilst trying a couple of set-up changes during the second 45-minute session. Following his usual routine, he saved the best for his last outing. He was able to improve to a 1’31.624s lap for 11th place, 0.984s from the top of the FP2 ranking, and completed the day in 12th position in the combined times.
Position: 11th – Time: 1’31.488 – Laps: 45
“It was a difficult day, especially this morning, because I didn’t feel good with the bike, but in the afternoon we improved the feeling and the setting. In the end, though I wasn’t fantastic, I was also not so bad, my speed was quite good. Here in Valencia it’s always difficult, because the grip is very low. During the whole season we suffered a lot in these types of conditions, so we have a lot to work on.”
Position: 12th – Time: 1’31.624 – Laps: 45
“It was a challenging day. We were struggling on the brakes, and trying to make the bike turn in the corners was difficult. It’s hard to understand what the situation is, I just try to ride the bike in the best way I can. This was the result and we will try to improve. I think we have the level to reach the top-5. Let’s see tomorrow, so far it seems to be quite a difficult weekend.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“The first day didn’t quite go to plan. Even though we tried different set-ups on both sides of the garage, we haven’t been able to improve as much as we wanted to. However, we were still able to compare different tyre specifications and got some good information for when we make the tyre choice for the race. It’s really important for tomorrow’s session that we find what didn’t work today, so we can improve.”