Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi had to push to the fullest on a tough second day at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto. After a difficult FP3 session, both Viñales and Rossi found themselves on the entry list for Q1. Viñales showed good speed in the first 15-minute shoot-out, securing first place, and went on to take fifth place in Q2.
Viñales was quick to leave pit lane for Q1 to get a hot lap in. After an encouraging FP4 session, where he set the second fastest time, he was still in the rhythm and clocked a 1‘37.378s benchmark time that put him in provisional first position. He then immediately headed back to the pits.
With over eight minutes left, he was back out, but now in second place, as team-mate Rossi had taken over at the top. Having seen how close the times were whilst he was in pit lane, Viñales was pushing extra hard. The result was a 1‘37.316s to reclaim first by 0.055s, but he wasn‘t done yet. He next lap, a 1‘37.164s, put him 0.135s clear of the rest of the riders and earned him a spot in Q2.
After the relatively easy pass through, the Spanish rider adopted a different strategy in Q2. He waited in the box for a while, to ensure himself of some clear space out on track. However, as he had only one soft rear tyre left, his first stint was done on the medium spec tyres, and he wasn‘t able to challenge for pole.
He made a quick stop to have his last soft rear tyre fitted and made sure he had a little more than five minutes left to put it to good use. His first attempt very briefly put him in third place, but shortly after he was pushed down to fifth. He improved his time on his next attempt, to a 1‘37.114s, 0.234s from first. That result kept him in fifth place on the grid for tomorrow‘s race, in the middle of the second row.
“I‘m satisfied for sure, because FP3 was very difficult for me. I didn‘t find a good feeling and I wasn‘t riding in a good way, so we changed a lot on the bike in FP4 and then I felt really good and had a good race pace, which is the most important. I‘m a bit disappointed with myself about the qualifying, because I chose a bad strategy. I tried to follow Jorge but forgot that Morbidelli and Quartararo were right behind me. I want to say ‘Congratulations‘ to Fabio because taking pole is not easy in MotoGP. Franco also did a great job, so they take first and second. P5 for me is really good, considering FP3 this morning. Tomorrow we‘ll start from the second row. It will be very important to have a good start, because we have the rhythm and I‘m braking really late, so I think for me overtaking here will be easier than at the other tracks. Let‘s see if tomorrow I can be as competitive as I was in today‘s FP4.”
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