The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team had to wait a while for action to get underway at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, as the Friday riding schedule was delayed due to an oil spillage in Moto3’s FP1. However, Maverick Viñales’ first efforts at the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix were worth the wait. He showed good form in both free practice sessions and secured third place in the combined times. Valentino Rossi needed a bit more time to warm to the breezy and somewhat chilly track, taking tenth position in both sessions.
Viñales showed his competitive pace right from the start of the rescheduled first session. The track conditions were tricky, catching out various riders, but the Spaniard remained undaunted. He rode several fastest laps on his YZR-M1 and kept hold of the top spot for the remainder of the session after setting a 1’29.952s on lap 11, to end FP1 in first place, with a 0.037s advantage over his closest rival.
The Spaniard booked further improvements in the FP2 session whilst perfecting the balance of his bike. With weather conditions uncertain for tomorrow’s FP3, he decided to play it safe, like most MotoGP riders, and switched to a soft-soft tyre combination for his last two runs. He concluded the day in third place with a personal best lap of 1’29.354s, 0.223s from today’s fastest time.
Rossi got straight to business in FP1. He was fully committed to his goal to decrease the 9-point gap to second place in the championship standings. He worked on preparing a base setting for Sunday’s race and finished the first free practice in tenth place with a 1’30.828s best lap, 0.876s from his teammate.
He resumed his work in FP2, continuing to adjust the bike’s set-up. The track conditions remained treacherous, but with the temperatures rising and the times dropping, the Doctor saved his best for the last stint. He bettered his FP1 time by nearly 0.7s when he clocked multiple low 1’30s laps during his final stint. He completed FP2 and the first day in tenth place with a 1’30.133s, 1.002s from the front.
Position: 3rd – Time: 1’29.354 – Laps: 44
“It’s been a good Friday. I always like being in Phillip Island. It has a really nice lay-out, so I can push myself even more. I’m happy because we worked in the correct way. Maybe in the afternoon we tried a bit too much. We should continue with the same bike, I have a great feeling on it. I was able to really concentrate and be precise, so we can be there in the top-3. This track really flows, and it seems to work for us, but we still have Saturday and Sunday to go. Today has been very positive so let’s see tomorrow.”
Position: 10th – Time: 1’30.133 – Laps: 40
“We worked on the bike and on the tyres today, because here in Phillip Island it’s always difficult to find the right balance. I was lucky at the end, because I was able to stay in the top-10, which is good and important because the forecast for tomorrow predicts that improving in FP3 could be difficult. We have to continue to work on the balance of the bike, we have to improve, because our pace isn’t fantastic.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“You never know what to expect in Phillip Island with its changeable weather conditions, so we’re taking this GP session by session. We started the weekend with a more conventional base set-up than the one we used in Motegi. Our riders were quite comfortable on their bikes and they have been fast in both sessions, especially Maverick. We tried a few different tyre specifications and we’ll finish what we couldn’t get done today in tomorrow’s sessions, which is mainly the hardest specification. In general, both riders complained about movement coming out of some corners. We will try to find a solution to make this better for tomorrow, and also we will work on some electronic settings in an effort to improve the tyre life. The weather conditions of tomorrow are uncertain, it might rain, but we’re sure we can make another step.”