Maverick Viñales just misses out on Motegi pole
Repsol rider Maverick Viñales to start from second after qualifying battle. Fourth, fifth and sixth rows for Oliveira, Rins and Márquez, respectively.
Maverick Viñales was determined to return to the top positions on Saturday and recorded the second fastest time in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. Eleventh on the timesheet was Miguel Oliveira for his debut at Motegi, a row ahead of Álex Rins (thirteenth). Fellow debutant Álex Márquez will start from the middle of row six, in seventeenth.
The final free practice session saw Álex Rins surprise as the quickest of the Repsol riders, clocking the fourth fastest time. He was just faster than Viñales in fifth, with Oliveira sixteenth and Márquez twentieth. However, Viñales returned the regular order in qualifying with a fight for pole position on tomorrow’s grid. Despite high winds that increased the importance of slipstreaming along the long straight, the Spaniard led the way until, five minutes from the end, Danny Kent finally bested his time.
In the final minute Sandro Cortese also moved ahead with the best lap of the weekend, but Viñales did not desist and knocked a tenth off the time, moving back into pole. That was not to last, as Kent was right behind him and took the position with a time of 1’58.371. That was two tenths quicker than Viñales, who will aim for his sixth win of the season on raceday.
Miguel Oliveira will also attempt to be part of the lead group from eleventh on the grid, as will thirteenth placed Álex Rins (three tenths faster in FP3). Álex Márquez made steady improvement and will take off from seventeenth.
“I am very satisfied with qualifying, but above all with the pace that we ran. We worked hard on tyres and found a good setting. It is always nice to take pole, but I am happy with our pace. We found out why we had an issue with tyres yesterday and now we just need to improve slightly in the warm up tomorrow. Our aim is to go at 100% in these remaining four races and try and win as many as possible.”
“Our evaluation is positive. Although we are a little off the frontrunners, we can improve this in tomorrow’s warmup —above all a few details with my riding. In the third sector we are losing a lot and there is room for improvement. Tomorrow the aim will be to get a good start and to try to be as far up the order as possible, fighting for the top spots.”
“We tried some new things with the bike that didn’t all go well. Tomorrow we will continue working in the warmup and try some other changes to up my pace. In the race we have to get a good start and regain as many places as possible.”
“Day two in Japan has once again been positive for us. Every day we are improving. In qualifying perhaps we lacked a little something at the end, but tomorrow will be a very tight race and we can be up at the front. We will try to get a good start, reach the leaders and keep up with their pace.”
Source: Repsol Media