Viñales banks pole as Rossi rounds out a Yamaha top 4 on San Marino qualifying day
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team showed their strong hand at the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini today. Maverick Viñales secured his 12th premier class pole position, breaking the previous All Time Lap Record by 0.218s. Valentino Rossi also put in a strong bid for the front row but came just short. He rounds out an all-Yamaha top-4 lockout, the Japanese manufacturer‘s first ever in a MotoGP qualifying session.
Viñales was the first rider to head out on track for the 15-minute shoot-out. His opening lap, a 1‘32.130s, immediately put him at the top of the standings, but the competition was fierce, and the times were dropping fast. However, the Spaniard had a strategy in place.
He rushed back to pit lane with the plan to swap bikes two times during Q2 in order to get in as many laps on fresh tyres as possible. Thanks to this, Top Gun was the only rider out on track already on his second run when the other riders were in pit lane for their stop. This gave him the clear space to set another provisional P1 lap, a 1‘31.787s, but there was still more to come.
The number-12 rider visited pit lane for the second time, with a little over three minutes remaining, to switch bikes again. He had time for just one more try and set an astonishing lap record of 1‘31.411s, earning himself pole position with a 0.312s advantage over second place.
Rossi had topped the FP3 session in the morning and was determined to put in a top result again in Q2. He briefly went pole with his second flying lap, clocking a 1‘31.877s, but was pushed back to second place by 0.086s shortly after, and he returned to the pits for a fresh rear tyre with seven and a half minutes left.
When he re-entered the track, he had time for three more hot laps but wasn‘t able to further improve. Yet the local hero‘s earlier fastest lap was quick enough for him to remain in fourth place, 0.466s from first. The result earned Yamaha its first ever top-4 lockout in a MotoGP qualifying session.
I‘m really happy because that lap was amazing! Not just because it gave me pole position, but more so because of the time itself. When I saw 1‘31.4s I thought “This is a good lap time!”. We knew our potential and took everything we had, and we made a really good lap. Honestly, I‘m quite happy and impressed that at the end of the day we were so fast. Breaking the lap record was really hard for me. This morning we were still riding 1‘31.9s. We weren‘t completely sure what we would be able to do in the afternoon, but I felt so good, especially in FP4 on the hard tyre. For tomorrow, we don‘t know what will happen, but today and also on Friday we were strong, so tomorrow we are going to try to be strong again. I will push from the beginning. For sure, the race will be very long and tough, so we‘re going to try to be smart, and then we‘ll see what we can do.
My day was good. This morning was fantastic for me, because to finish FP3 in P1 is always a great feeling in Misano. Also, I had a good pace, and I felt good with the bike. Here at this track the Yamaha is very competitive, very strong. We need to come back at the top, to fight for top positions, because the two weekends in Austria were very difficult to manage. This afternoon we tried some different things. I was not fantastic, and everybody has big doubts about the tyres, both front and rear, because the choice is very open. So, we have to see, we have to fix some things. It‘s a shame about the front row, but starting from the fourth position is still good, and our pace is not so bad. It looks like the Yamahas have a very good pace. The battle will be hard as always, because especially Maverick, but also Quartararo and Franco, have been riding very well since Friday morning, so I think that we will have to start well, have to improve for tomorrow and try to fight for the podium.