Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Maverick Viñales brought the heat today at the GP di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Q2 session. The Spaniard put in a two-stop strategy in an effort to cleverly avoid traffic on track and produced a brilliant pole position. Valentino Rossi put in a promising start to the 15-minute shoot-out, but was unable to improve on his second run and will be starting tomorrow‘s race from seventh place on the grid.
Viñales had a clear plan for the Q2 session: he would be swapping bikes twice to make sure he had enough space out on track to get in a hot lap. His first flying lap put him in fourth, and he maintained this position on his second attempt, before heading into the pits with eight minutes on the clock.
Within a minute he was back on his way on his second bike, while his first one was getting a splash of fuel for his final run. The Spaniard put his alternate Yamaha on the provisional front row, taking third, and then quickly hopped aboard his first bike again.
There were only two and a half minutes remaining as he entered the track once more, but he made them count. The chequered flag had already come out when he produced a 1‘32.265s for pole position, his second of the season, with a 0.295s advantage over second.
Rossi also came out of the gate strong, though he opted for the more usual one-stop strategy, and slotted into fifth place on his first hot lap. The pace was fast at the start of the session, but the Italian defended his position with a 1‘33.079s lap. Unable to improve on his third try, he headed to the pit box.
With five minutes of the Q2 session left, the Doctor resumed his shoot-out challenge. Whilst being followed by a fellow rider, he was pushing until the very last lap, but it didn‘t work out in his favour. He didn’t better his time on his next two attempts and set two grey sectors on his last try, before a race incident in S3 and S4 ended his chance to get onto the two front rows. This last lap was ultimately also cancelled for exceeding track limits in sector 2. The Italian took seventh in the results, 0.814s from first, and will be starting the race at his home track, the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, from the third row.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“I’m really happy and excited, because we created a really good atmosphere and a really good weekend so far. Of course, we don’t finish until the Sunday, but we’re enjoying the moment because it’s always difficult to be in P1 on the Saturday. We’ve worked well for the race, the rhythm is there, we have a great pace in the last laps. We are going to try our best! I’m excited and happy about how it’s all working, the team is putting in a great effort. During the test we worked really hard on the slippery conditions and that’s why we are at the front now. Honestly, since the first day here all the Yamahas have been working well, but somehow we created better grip than the others. There are also other riders that are pretty close, so we will see at the end. My objective is to take the lead from the first corner and then push at my maximum. For sure I’ll be going for the victory. This is a good track for me, I have nothing to lose and everything to win. Any result will be good, but we have to feel like we fight for the victory.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“It’s a shame for us, because I was strong in FP4. I had a good pace, so I expected to be stronger in qualifying, but unfortunately during Q2, on the softer tyres, I had more problems. The first lap was not so bad, but I got stuck in traffic. Starting from P7 is challenging, because it’s not on the second row. Starting from the third row is more difficult, but the pace is good so we will try the maximum. At the end, with Marquez, I was on my second tyre and I tried to push to the limit. After that he overtook me in a fast corner, so he made me lose time, and then he went on the green. I tried to stay more inside to overtake him, because I expected he would slow down after being on the green, but he stayed on the line. I tried to overtake him on braking, but I arrived wide, after that the lap was over. I was trying 100 per cent, because it was my last chance, but I remained seventh.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It was a heated qualifying session, in every aspect. First of all, congratulations to Maverick, who is back on pole for the first time since Qatar. His two-stop tactic worked to a tee today, and he set a brilliant 1’32.265s lap all by himself, without a tow. Maverick has been strong since the Misano test, and even in this heat – conditions we have struggled in this year – he’s held his competitive form, so we are really looking forward to seeing him fight at the front tomorrow. It’s unfortunate that Vale will start his home race from the third row of the grid. He had aimed to be a bit higher up the order, but on the bright side, he was there in the free practice sessions, so we know he has good pace. There are certain points that we will amend for tomorrow, for our riders to try during Warm Up, so they will be all set to give the fans a good show during the race.”