Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi got a feel for the wet conditions at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo today. Despite the standing water proving to be an obstacle, the riders felt comfortable on their bikes. However, as the weather conditions worsened in the afternoon, they remained in 7th and 12th place respectively in the combined free practice results.
Viñales made a solid start to FP1, though aquaplaning slowed him down considerably. The session was briefly stopped due to track conditions, but soon resumed as the rain lessened. The local rider bided his time for a while before he headed back out, eager to see how the competition fared. Once he got going too, he gradually gained confidence and breached into the provisional top-3. He bettered his time to a 1’40.772s on his last lap to finish the morning practice in seventh place, 1.005s from first.
This scenario repeated itself in the afternoon. The Spaniard was eager to show a strong pace, but FP2 was halted after less than ten minutes due to track conditions. When the action resumed, the water on the circuit made it impossible for the Yamaha rider to better his FP1 time. Nevertheless, Viñales gave it a good shot with a 1’42.746s lap, 1.428s from the front. He set the seventh fastest time of the afternoon and also kept hold of seventh position in the combined FP rankings, thanks to his morning efforts.
Rossi was quick to adapt to the challenging conditions in Valencia once FP1 was restarted. He carried a competitive pace on his opening laps and spent the remainder of the session tweaking his bike’s wet set-up, upping his tempo every time he went out on track. His personal best lap was a 1’41.015s, for 12th place, 1.248s from the top.
The Doctor had a cautious start to the FP2, trying not to get caught out on the slippery surface when further showers hit the track. But his performance in the afternoon was worth the wait for the fans in the grandstands. The Italian showed his superb riding skills in the wet once the session got back underway. He featured within the top-3 for most of the time, even topped the rankings now and again, and ultimately wrapped up the session in third position. However, his best time of 1’42.081s, which was 0.763s from the top of the FP2 charts, was not quicker than this morning’s result, so he remained in 12th place in the combined free practice timesheets.
Position: 7th – Time: 1’40.772 – Laps: 28
“I didn’t feel so bad, and honestly it was better than I expected. In the morning I was a bit faster than I was this afternoon, because there was a lot of water on the track. There are still some things to improve on, but I’m actually happy. Let’s see if we can take another step tomorrow. Our objective is to be in the top-5, if it’s raining and conditions are similar to today, that result would be great. Today I announced that next season, and starting from next Tuesday at the Valencia test, I will be riding with a new number: 12. The reason why I decided to change the number is that I used to ride with number 12 when I was a kid, for at least five or six years, and I was really successful. I also feel that number 12 identifies me a bit more, though I’ve been riding with number 25 for quite a few years.”
Position: 12th – Time: 1’41.015 – Laps: 29
“It was a busy day and fully wet. It’s actually a good thing, because it looks like the weather will be very bad on Sunday, so we need to understand which tyre we will try to use and also work on the balance of the bike. This morning the track was a bit faster because there was less water on it, but unfortunately I didn’t feel fantastic with the bike, it wasn’t a perfect combination. But we made some good modifications so in the afternoon I was stronger. It’s a shame we couldn’t improve our laptime from this morning. I’m outside of the top-10, but with a good feeling and also a good pace, so in the end it’s not so bad.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Valencia is always a bit of a challenging track and today the very wet conditions formed an extra obstacle. We finished the first day in seventh and twelfth place, but the combined results don’t tell the full story, because especially Vale seems to be feeling very comfortable in the rain. We, as a team, are on the right path, because we are quite competitive in these conditions, just like we were in similar circumstances in Malaysia a few weeks ago. It’s positive that we’ve been able to achieve this without making many changes to the base set-up. We faced difficulties in the rain recently, so to see us overcome this issue is important. Since the weather forecast for Sunday is predicting rain, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for us if at least one of tomorrow’s sessions is wet too. Our focus for FP3 will be to have both riders in Q2.”