Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi continued the positive progress they made yesterday afternoon in all of today‘s MotoGP sessions at the Termas de Río Hondo circuit. The team-mates showed they are feeling comfortable on their YZR-M1s, qualifying for the race in second and fourth place respectively.
A solid run in this morning‘s FP3 saw both Viñales and Rossi secure a place in Q2, allowing them to fight for a spot on the front row.
Viñales copied his successful qualifying strategy from Qatar, starting the Q2 session well after the rest of the field had left pit lane. He took eighth place initially, but he was only getting warmed up. His next lap put him in fifth position, right behind his team-mate.
With about seven minutes left on the clock, the Spaniard arrived back at the box to put fresh tyres on his Yamaha for his final push. Viñales delivered when it really counted. His next flying lap, a strong 1‘38.458s, briefly put him in first position. However, as other riders completed their bids for pole he found himself in second place, 0.154s from the top. He had one final go but didn‘t improve. He will start tomorrow‘s race from the middle of the front row.
Rossi quickly headed out of pit lane, eager to get his hot laps in. His first attempt put him in tenth place, but he started his second with a red sector and slotted into fourth in the provisional rankings before heading back to the garage.
There were more than four and a half minutes remaining when the Doctor rejoined the qualifying action, and he was on a mission. He secured a provisional place on the front row with his next effort but was pushed down a position in the final stages of the session. The Italian wasn‘t able to further improve his best time on his last lap, leaving him in fourth, on the second row, 0.241s from first.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider
“If you told me on Friday this was going to happen, I would have said ‘No’. Yesterday, we were a bit lost, we struggled a lot, but we worked really hard. Every session we improved the bike. There’s still room for improvement, so we keep working. We need our work to pay off. We need to start well, be at the front in the first laps, and I’m going to try to ride aggressively in the first laps. Let’s see where that takes us. I’m going to try my best. I think it’s going to be a difficult race, because everyone is very close. We don’t know the race pace yet, but tomorrow we’re going to try to reduce the gap to the front even further.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider
“It was a good Friday and a good Saturday. I’m happy to start from the fourth position because my lap was good, not so far from the pole position. I also had a good feeling with the bike and with the race tyres I have a good pace, it’s not so bad. It’s true that we have another five to six riders who are very strong. It will be a tough race, for sure. It will be important to try to work on the small details tonight and after we have to wait and see the conditions tomorrow, because the forecast is difficult. If it’s a wet race, it’s like we’re starting from zero. Nobody knows. In the last races in the wet I was not so bad, but here I don’t know. We hope that if it will be a wet race, we can also have a wet Warm Up.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“We stuck to our plan for today and made another step. It was a very strong Q2 from both Maverick and Valentino. They are feeling comfortable on the bike, and a first and second row start bodes well for tomorrow. That said, there are still some uncertainties. The weather will play a deciding role in how the race is going to play out, and therefore we still need to make a final decision on the tyres, making tomorrow’s Warm Up session very important. In any case, we feel positive about what happened today. Tomorrow we’ll make some final set-up adjustments. We expect it will be a difficult race and tyre life will be a crucial factor.”