Viñales and Rossi get a feel for grip levels on Catalan GP Friday
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team continued their search for the optimal race configuration with the wind picking up at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this afternoon. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi made further amendments to their YZR-M1s‘ settings in FP2, ahead of Sunday‘s Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, and ended the Friday in 4th and 10th place respectively in the combined timesheets.
Viñales continued to fine-tune his bike‘s set-up in the afternoon, spending 40 minutes on getting it in perfect shape for Sunday‘s race. In the final five minutes of the session, he returned to the box for some fresh tyres to book himself a provisional place in Q2. Clocking a 1‘40.208s on lap 20/20, he secured fourth in the FP2 and combined FP rankings, with a 0.419s margin to first.
Rossi also had a busy afternoon schedule getting his bike to adjust to the lower grip levels of the Barcelona circuit. Once he was satisfied with his feeling out on track, he put in an early mini time attack, setting a 1‘40.575s that initially put him in second place, just 0.002s from first. As the pace heated up, The Doctor gave it another go and produced a 1‘40.502s on lap 19/21 for ninth place, 0.713s from the top. However, as one rider had set a faster morning time, the Italian is tenth in the combined free practice results.
I’m very happy with last week’s victory, it gives us some extra confidence, and now we’re in Montmeló, which is a track that I love and where I can ride very fast. The first day has been good. In the morning I felt fast straight away, but in the afternoon the conditions were more difficult because of the wind, but I think we rode well. Our lap times were quite good, and the most important thing is that the feeling is there. I was feeling comfortable on the bike. Honestly, I didn’t do a very good hot lap, because I was on the medium front and I didn’t want to take the risk to push, but I’m quite happy. We are trying to improve and understand the bike. We just try to remain calm and go with the flow in the corners. Tomorrow we will focus on the soft-soft tyre combination to see if it works for us over the race distance. We’ll also try to make another step, especially concerning the race set-up, but I feel strong. If I can push for the pole position, I will, but our main objective is to be on the front row, and then we’ll see where we stand.
The conditions are difficult, because the grip level is very low. So, you have to ride the bike in a different way compared to Misano and manage the sliding and spinning rear as much as possible – which is difficult. But, apart from that, I don’t feel so bad. Today was positive because my pace is quite good, I feel good with the bike. It works well, and I feel comfortable. For sure, we will have to work a lot, because everybody will improve for tomorrow, but the first day wasn’t so bad. I’m in P10, but I think my potential is higher. The windy conditions were difficult this afternoon, especially on the front straight, because when you exit from the last corner you don’t have any protection from the wind. The straight is also very fast, and at the end of it the wind is quite inconsistent and it moves the bike a lot. That’s quite scary. But it looks like it will be less windy tomorrow, so I think FP3 will be very crucial, as always, for staying in the top 10. I think everybody will be pushing at the maximum. After that I will try to do a good qualifying and try to start from the first two rows. Right now it’s still open between the soft and the medium tyres, especially on the rear. We need to make some more laps before we make a decision. Usually at this track the grip level improves on the second day, so we will see tomorrow.