Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales showed his spirit in Q1 when he set the best time of the session on his very first flying lap. He improved his time further in Q2 to ultimately take 11th place on the grid.
Viñales was the last rider to head out on track in the first qualifying session, eager to find some clear space, and he used it to the fullest. He clocked a 1‘47.823s on his opening flying lap, the first time he dropped under the 1‘48s mark this weekend, to take over at the top of the rankings.
Unable to improve on his next try, he went into the pits for a quick stop with more than six minutes of the session remaining. When he got back he was still 0.186s clear of his closest rival. He was pushing without bettering his time but remained in P1 regardless, ending the session with a 0.123s advantage over the rider in second place.
The local hero showed a similar strategy at the start of Q2. He again left it late to exit pit lane but immediately put his head down. He moved up to third place with a 1‘47.810s but was pushed back to tenth when all riders completed their second hot lap.
With eight minutes to go, the Spaniard returned to the pits. He had two more attempts, but he didn‘t improve his time and ended the session in 11th place, 0.929s from pole.
After today’s qualifying, Viñales was penalised three grid positions by Race Direction for obstructing Bradley Smith whilst the Brit was on a hot lap in Q1. As a result, the Spaniard will be starting the race from 14th place.
Today’s qualifying results don’t fully show our potential, I feel I could have done a little bit better, because I had some problems with the electronics in Q2. We need to keep working, we still have some time. We need to try to keep the motivation high and let’s see if we can do a bit better tomorrow. Rules are rules, and I think I was on the line in Bradley’s hot lap, so this is the way it is.