Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales put up a fight, trying a two-stop strategy in Q2, and secured 11th place on the grid for tomorrow’s eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. Valentino Rossi aimed to battle his way through Q1 after finishing outside the combined FP top-10 results due to the wet conditions of this morning’s FP3 session, but he came just short. He will be starting the race from 14th position.
Vinales put his head down straight out of the gate in Q2. He quickly left the box to slip into sixth position and immediately headed back to pit lane with more than ten minutes on the clock.
He had been pushed back to 11th place as he headed back out less than two minutes later, starting his second charge. He set a 1’24.831s but didn’t move up the order. He hurried back to pit lane to make a second stop with four and a half minutes remaining.
With two and a half minutes left to leave his mark, and now in 12th position, the Spaniard continued his challenge. There was just enough time left for two last flyers. A new personal best of 1’24.284s put him in 11th place. He followed it up with a promising start to his final lap but was ultimately unable to improve and had to settle for a starting place in the middle of the fourth row.
Rossi had a cautious start to the Q1 session as he tried to shake off other riders that were aiming to follow him around the Austrian circuit. His first flying lap put him in eighth place, but he improved on the next two laps to fifth when he dropped under the 1’25s mark for the first time this day.
With more than six minutes remaining, the Doctor pulled into the pits for a quick stop. The Italian kicked the level up a notch when he returned. Having been pushed back to seventh he now placed second, but it was short-lived as he got pushed back to fourth soon after. He had two more goes, setting another red sector and two personal best sectors on his final lap for a 1’24.309s, but was unable to improve his position. He will start tomorrow’s race from 14th position on the grid.
Position: 11th – Time: 1’24.284 – Laps: 9
“Actually, this weekend we have some more problems with the electronics and the bike was not working well on the track. Anyway, we hope to solve it for tomorrow. It is an important race and it’s important to be inside the top-10 and get points for the championship. We have the same situation as yesterday, we couldn’t find improvements. So, let’s see tomorrow if we can fix it in the Warm Up. For the race the soft tyre is too soft for us. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I’ll do my best as always. We’ll get through this race and then we’ll focus on Silverstone. We’re a team, we have to keep pushing and working. I hope Yamaha can respond, so we can be stronger.”
Position: 14th – Time: 1’24.309 – Laps: 9
“During this weekend I was unlucky, because the only dry session for going into Q2 was Friday morning and I broke the bike after three laps. With the other bike I wasn’t strong enough to be in the top-10. The other problem is that, when we tried the soft tyre today in the qualifying, I didn’t feel good. It didn’t work well for our bike. I was able to improve my lap time but not by a lot and I didn’t feel comfortable, and unfortunately I didn’t go into Q2. We have to say that in FP4 my pace was nothing fantastic, but it was average. So, we need to work to improve the race pace for tomorrow a little bit. Starting from the fifth row will be chaotic with everybody going crazy in the first braking zone. We have to overtake in that moment, and then we’ll see.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Today was a very complicated day to get it right, due to the big contrast between the morning and the afternoon sessions. FP3 was wet, so it became clear early on that Vale would have to join Q1, while Maverick would promote to Q2. The change in conditions in the afternoon meant we had to try all our dry-setting options in FP4. The dry qualifying didn’t go as we expected. The riders couldn’t push the way they wanted to, so the team will work hard to find a solution to the problems. The start of the race will be crucial, both riders will need a good launch from the fourth and fifth row to hit the front of the field early on. We will use the warm-up session to fine-tune the bikes for the race, regardless of the weather conditions, though we hope for either a fully dry or fully wet day. It’s been a very dark weekend for us so far and we acknowledge our responsibility for not being able to provide the riders with a package that enables them to fight at the top, where they both deserve to be, but we will continue to fight as a team, so together we can overcome the struggles and the technical issues that have held us back so far.”