Viñales and Rossi to push in Portuguese GP from 8th and 17th on the grid
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi gave their utmost in this afternoon‘s qualifying sessions at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Viñales had promoted straight into Q2 and secured an 8th-place starting position for tomorrow‘s Grande Prémio de Portugal. Rossi had to take part in Q1 and ended that session in seventh, putting him in 17th place on the grid.
Viñales showed a strong hand in his opening bid for pole in Q2. He put his Yamaha in the number-one spot after the first lap, but the fight was only just starting. One lap later, he set a provisional best lap of 1’39.517s for fourth place before he returned to the box for a fresh set of tyres.
The Spaniard headed back out on track with slightly less than six minutes on the clock and the entire rider field out on flying laps. He defended his fourth position, posting a 1‘39.260s on the sixth lap with a 0.056s gap to a front-row start, and he had two more laps to further improve. However, he wasn‘t able to do so and ended the session in eighth place, 0.368s from the top.
Rossi‘s first try in Q1 put him in sixth place and he defended it on his next hot lap, holding fifth position as he came into the pits. Checking the times, he knew he had to find about 0.3s to be in contention for the two top spots.
With six minutes remaining, The Doctor was back on his way. The times were tumbling, so he had to dig deep to get as high up the starting grid as possible. His next try, a 1‘40.058s, moved the Italian back up to sixth, but he was soon pushed back to seventh. He had two more chances left but wasn‘t able to better his time. He finished in seventh place, 0.808s from first.
For sure I’m not satisfied, because I arrived at this track with high expectations. I was riding fast with the street bike during the test and also in FP1 and FP2 we were there, but today we didn’t have the same feeling, especially when it comes to rear grip. Because of this, in Qualifying I didn’t do as well as I could have done. Maybe the hard tyre can give us something extra for tomorrow. I’m starting from the third row, which usually doesn’t really bode well for me, but I will try to do a good race.
Yesterday was a difficult day. Getting familiarised with the track took longer than I expected, because I like the track a lot. Yesterday we tried some things to improve the grip, but I lost the feeling. I was very slow and I also lost time because I crashed. Today was a bit better. We worked in a better way and also in the afternoon we made a step compared to the morning, especially concerning the race pace, which is not so bad. But, anyway, I’m a bit behind. We will see tomorrow, because there‘s a group of riders who have a similar pace to mine, so I will try to fight with them. It’s a difficult track where nobody has raced before. You can learn a track during practice sessions, but in a race it will be different with all the other bikes. That can bring some surprises. It’s not easy to overtake here, so the start and first laps will be important.