Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were back in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP box today for the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. A search for a good set-up at the wet MotorLand Aragón track was the main challenge for the riders, who secured 17th and 20th place respectively.
Viñales was eager to make strides in his championship quest at the start of this weekend, but sudden rain at the beginning of FP1 spoiled his plans. After a quick dry-to-wet set-up change, the Spaniard was cautious not to take unnecessary risks, as the weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend is ‘dry’. He set a fastest lap of 2’04.098s to finish the 45-minute session in 20th place, 2.855s from the front.
As the rain persisted in the afternoon, the local hero was determined to step up his pace by trying a new wet weather setting, but wheelspin kept him from threatening the top of the charts. He continued to work on the adjustment of the set-up throughout the session. His last run moved him up to 17th place in the final minute, when he dropped a 2’01.632s, securing 17th place, both in the FP2 and the combined results, with a 1.774s gap to first.
Teammate Rossi made his highly-anticipated comeback to MotoGP racing this morning after 21 days of recovery since sustaining a leg injury. He started the FP1 session with the goal of getting a good feeling aboard the YZR-M1 again. After a brief period of familiarisation, he made his first steps forward whilst working on his bike’s setting and clocked a 2’04.066s for 18th, 2.823s from the top of the timesheets.
The rain continued to add slipperiness as an extra challenge, but the Italian kept focused on perfecting his bike’s set-up. He impressed with some red sectors throughout the session and improved on his morning time by more than two seconds, when he set a 2’01.917s, 2.059s from first. He wrapped up the first day in Spain in 20th place in the combined timesheets.
Position: 17th – Time: 2’01.632 – Laps: 12
“It was very complicated. We were trying a new set-up for the wet, but unfortunately we didn’t find a way to improve. We’re having so much spin, the bike is not riding well, so we have many problems to set a good lap time. Luckily, it will be dry and we know we will have a strong package for those conditions. We are going to try to improve on the wet. We are trying and trying, but sometimes it gets difficult. We didn’t improve compared to Misano, we took some steps back whilst trying to improve, but we’re going to keep trying to do our best.”
Position: 3rd – Time: 2’01.917 – Laps: 13
“I’m quite happy, because I feel comfortable on the bike. I was good already from this morning and also because the leg, after two practice sessions, is in a good condition, I don’t feel a lot of pain. For sure on the wet it’s a bit easier, because it’s less demanding to ride the bike, but I hope we will have better weather conditions tomorrow and on Sunday, in order to try to understand my level on the dry and also so we can work on the setting and the tyres.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“It has been a challenging start to the weekend for us. We suffered a lot due to a lack of grip. After Misano, we were not expecting to face this setback. Both Maverick and Valentino didn’t get a good feeling on the bike and were experiencing a lot of spin, which caused a loss in power and prevented them from riding the way they wanted to. We didn’t know what to expect from Vale on this first day of riding, but the wet conditions gave him a smooth transition coming back from injury. Today’s goal was for him to get familiarised with the bike again. However, we are expecting dry conditions tomorrow and only then will we truly know where he stands.”