Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi used the first dry free practice session to get a base set-up for the race locked ahead of Sunday’s eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, whilst in the afternoon they had to switch to full-wet settings and cope with completely changed track conditions. Their results from FP1 put them in 10th and 11th place respectively in the combined Free Practice timesheets.
The looming rain clouds at the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg track put some extra time pressure on this morning’s FP1. Viñales was eager to start work on his bike’s race setting as rain was expected for the afternoon. He upped his pace gradually and took tenth place in FP1, with a 1’24.835s best lap, 1.005s from the front.
The Spaniard took his time to get up to speed in the afternoon. He waited to see how a few other riders fared out on the wet track, before deciding to also brave the conditions. However, he remained careful not to cross the limit, as he had only recently recovered from his crash in Brno. He still made progress and ultimately secured 20th place with a fastest lap of 1’38.174s and a 4.179s margin to first.
Teammate Rossi delivered a productive FP1 session despite losing some vital practice time due to a broken rear sprocket on his first run. Once he returned back out on track, the Italian climbed the provisional results list and regularly featured inside the top-10 in the morning. However, a last-minute “mini shoot-out” by most of the rider field, in anticipation of the predicted rain, saw the number 46 rider end FP1 in 11th place with a 1’24.884s, 1.054s from the top of the timesheets.
With the weather conditions taking a turn for the worse at the start of FP2, the Doctor stayed inside the pit box for a while but couldn’t fight the urge to head out. He was the fourth rider to leave pit lane to gather some extra data in wet conditions. He was able to improve his time more and more, to conclude the afternoon with a best time of 1’36.327s. He finished 2.332s from the top, securing 10th position.
With no time improvements being made in FP2, Viñales and Rossi ended the day in 10th and 11th place respectively in the combined timesheets.
Position: 10th – Time: 1’24.835 – Laps: 27
“Especially the morning was difficult, we had some problems, but we kept working and tried to solve everything we could. For the afternoon we had many things planned to try, but finally it was wet and we didn’t have really good feelings, so we need to keep pushing.”
Position: 11th – Time: 1’24.884 – Laps: 34
“For me the biggest issue is that I’m not inside the top-10 on the dry. Unfortunately, I had a problem with one bike and had to stop. I had to use the other bike, but it had some things that were different, and I wasn’t able to arrive inside the top-10. This can create a problem to improve the lap time tomorrow morning if the conditions aren’t 100%. On the wet I’m not very fast, but the spray deflector worked well. We tried to take some water away from the tyre. Especially at this track we have a lot of aquaplaning, also on the straight, which makes it difficult to control the bike. But now we have to try to understand and improve, and we’ll see tomorrow.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“The Austrian track will never be easy for us, but today’s sessions also didn’t help. The riders struggled to find a good feeling in the dry morning session and, unfortunately, we couldn’t try the solutions we had planned in the afternoon because of the rain. Nevertheless, we were able to use FP2 to work on our performance level in wet conditions, which is useful as we haven’t done many wet sessions this season so far. Since we weren’t able to fully exploit today’s practice time, we will have to push extra hard tomorrow. We hope for a dry FP3, so we can take full advantage of those 45 minutes and prepare for Sunday’s race.”
Decent First Day in Spielberg for Monster Yamaha Tech3 Racing Pair
Fresh off a very positive test, Johann Zarco initiated the Austrian Grand Prix today with huge enthusiasm and a fastest time of 1’24.767, which placed him well inside the provisional Q2 positions in P9. When the rain arrived in this afternoons’ second Free Practice the fast Frenchman was one of the first out on track trying the conditions and eventually finishing the day as the fastest Yamaha rider.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage Hafizh Syahrin got his first taste of a full wet session on board his Yamaha YZR-M1 in FP2, following the dry morning, where he was missing out on his team mate by just 0.827 seconds. From 9.55 local time on Saturday, the Malaysian rookie gets the chance to adapt further to the beautiful track surrounded by the Austrian mountains.
Position: 9th – Time: 1’24.767 – Laps: 36
“I’m disappointed about the first day. On the track this morning I enjoyed the circuit, but my feeling on the bike was not good. We lost quite a lot time, nine tenths behind the fastest is too much on a small track like this. I still believe in the work we are going to do this evening in order to really improve in the dry. Later with the rain, I was very careful because we don’t know this venue in the wet. Therefore, I did many laps to gain confidence and then we made a good improvement on the bike, but when I went out the rain was heavier, so I couldn’t improve my lap time. But I feel that in the rain we quite good.”
Position: 21st – Time: 1’25.594 – Laps: 35
“We had some changing weather today. This morning it was dry and I wanted to learn from FP1 to improve in the second session, but finally we found wet conditions, which was the first time for me in the full wet. I tried to understand lap by lap and we improved slightly. I just need some more time to get used to this. We didn’t change the setup on the bike and for sure we need to do a slight adaption on the front in order to feel better when it rains. Tomorrow I hope we have good weather and obviously, we want to try to improve our position.”