Viñales got straight down to business during the 15-minute session, setting a 1‘40.007s on his first hot lap for provisional pole. He followed it up with another two fast first sectors but had to abandon his try in S3. As a result, he dropped to seventh place on returning to the pit box for a fresh set of tyres, but the Spaniard‘s challenge was far from over.
After a two-minute stop he headed back out for his second run. The timing was perfect: as most of the rider field was just heading into pit lane, he had a clear track in front of him. The home rider wasn‘t able to further improve his time on his next attempt, yet he remained determined to make his fans proud and set three red sectors on the following lap. It resulted in a 1‘39.710s, his best of the session, to briefly take first again. But, as other riders completed their fastest efforts, he ended in third place, 0.226s from first.
Following the Q2 session, Race Direction imposed a penalty of three grid positions on Viñales for being slow on the racing line and disturbing another rider. Viñales will start tomorrow’s race from P6, whilst Rossi moves up to P4.
“We improved the feeling quite a lot, so I’m happy about that. As I said, we were working in a different direction. Let’s see tomorrow if all the hard work pays off. I’m ready to start and get in front. We’ve worked in a good way, but it has been difficult to set one good lap, because the bike is quite a bit different from what I was riding in Mugello. Let’s see if tomorrow we can improve, but anyway it’s very important to be consistent, to be in front, and battle with the front guys. I will try my best.
“I misunderstood the chequered flag. I didn’t do it purposely or with malicious intent, so for me the penalty is too severe, but I have to accept it, because this is the way it is. For sure I’m not happy, but there’s no excuse. We start from sixth, which isn’t bad at all, it could have been worse. I’m not so far from the first row, just a few metres behind it. If I have a good launch at the start, I think we can be good. I will still try to be in front in the first corner.”
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