Viñales and Rossi to commence Le Mans GP from 5th and 10th
It was a tricky qualifying session for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP duo this afternoon at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. Though air and track temperatures measured 17°C and 26°C respectively, the level of competition in Q2 was red hot, with less than 0.7s covering all twelve riders. Maverick Viñales ultimately secured 5th position on the grid, whilst Valentino Rossi will be starting the Grand Prix de France from 10th place.
Viñales was quick to join the 15-minute shoot-out and slotted into third place on his first attempt. He tried to defend his provisional first-row starting position and did improve his time but held fourth place as he pulled back into pit lane.
With a little over eight minutes left, he was on his way for a second run. The Spaniard set multiple personal best times over the next four flying laps, but the Q2 fight was very close, with many riders putting in red and orange sectors. The factory Yamaha man‘s best time of 1‘31.719s, set on lap 9/10, put him in fifth position on tomorrow‘s grid, 0.404s from first.
Rossi also sped out of the box, pushing from the get-go. He initially held fourth place after his first hot lap. He bettered his time on his next try, but with the pace heating up he was in fifth as he returned to the box for a fresh rear tyre.
With more than five minutes on the clock, The Doctor rejoined the action on track. He was in sixth position when he commenced his next flying lap, but many riders were on a charge. The Italian had three goes at climbing up the order. His best lap, a 1‘31.889s, 0.574s off today‘s fastest time, set on lap 7/8, put him in tenth place on the grid for tomorrow‘s race.
A second-row start is not bad, but I‘m not really happy about the feeling with the bike. In Montmeló I was already struggling and it continues here in Le Mans, which is strange because usually this is a track where we are quite competitive. Fifth place is the maximum we could do, because the bike is moving a lot and I‘m unable to create grip on banking. Tomorrow will be a tough day. We will try to do our best. We can still try to fight for the top, because in FP4 the rhythm with old tyres was very fast and consistent.
I‘m not happy about my qualifying and my position. I have to do better, because I think that my potential is better, my pace is better than this. The qualifying was a bit difficult, a bit tricky. In the end on the last lap I was not so bad, but I made a mistake. If not, I could have started from a bit more towards the front. Starting from ten is difficult, for sure, but the feeling with the bike is not so bad. We have to fix something, but my pace is quite good, so we have to try tomorrow.