The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team had a full-on first day at the Grand Prix de France, preparing for Sunday’s race. Maverick Viñales likes the Le Mans circuit, and it showed today as his pace was unmatched in the dry FP2 session, earning him 1st place. Valentino Rossi left it late to finalise his set-up and ended the day in 14th place.
Viñales stuck to the plan he made in the run-up to the weekend in Le Mans. He wanted to make a strong start to the French GP, and he was quick to position himself in the mix for top billing in the morning session. He showed great confidence in his pace, opting to keep his attention on the setting of his YZR-M1 rather than putting in a fast lap with a soft rear tyre, and still remained inside the top-5. He set a best time of 1’32.203s for fourth place, 0.217s from first.
The Spaniard kept the good vibes going in the afternoon, despite threatening clouds invading the Bugatti circuit. He quickly moved up into the top-3 again and spent the remainder of the session getting ready to fire in hot laps during the final minutes. He wrapped up FP2 with a stunning final run, setting multiple fastest laps of the day, to finish in first place with a 1‘31.428s, 0.190s ahead of his closest rival.
Rossi started the FP1 session with the intention to follow up on the leads found in the Jerez test. However, after encountering a chain issue halfway through the session, he had to alter his planning. The Italian hurried back to the pit box and headed out on his second bike. He pushed in the latter stages to make the top-10, bettering his time to a 1‘32.760s in the process, and finished in tenth place, 0.774s from the front.
The Doctor had his work cut out for him during FP2, trying to make up for lost time. He continued to perfect the set-up of his YZR-M1 until the last four minutes of the session. He put in a soft rear tyre for a time attack, hoping to be able to move into the top-10 again, but as he only had enough time for one flying lap, he ended up in 13th place. His best lap of 1’32.320s puts him in 14th place overall for the day, 0.892s from the top.
Maverick Viñales, 1st – 1’31.428
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“It’s been a very positive start to the weekend for me. I think we found our set-up very fast, so I was able to make many laps and I felt quite good with the bike. I have good feeling, also with the tyres, but anyway we need to keep working. There are still some places where I need to improve, also concerning my riding style, so tomorrow I have a lot of work to do. Let’s see what the weather will be like, because it seems to be uncertain. We will have to pay close attention in qualifying, because it will play an important role in being able to be in front during the race. For sure, we’ll have to make quick decisions. I haven’t ridden the bike in full wet yet, but in Austin I felt great on the wet tyres. So, I think tomorrow it will be important to understand in which direction to work and how to improve.”
Valentino Rossi, 14th – 1’32.320
“We had some problems during the day and, sincerely, I expected to be stronger, but unfortunately I wasn’t very fast, so we have to work this evening to try to find something better. In the end I did just one lap with the soft tyre and I’m outside the top-10, so now we have to hope that tomorrow morning I can ride in dry conditions to try to improve, and we have to try to work on the bike to have better pace.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It‘s been a mixed first day for us in terms of results. On the one side we have Maverick, who is feeling really comfortable. He showed competitive speed in a race configuration and even more so on his flying lap with the soft rear tyre. Valentino, on the other hand, was unlucky to face some setbacks in FP1 that cost him track time. Because of this, they had to really work hard in FP2 trying different set-ups, and this meant there was only time left for one hot lap. Today he finished outside of the top-10 and, if the weather forecast is correct, FP3 will be wet, so this means he might have to take part in Q1 again. Anyway, we hope that it will remain dry, so we can continue working on the set-ups. Should it rain tomorrow, today‘s data could be vital if Sunday‘s race turns out to be dry.”