Double Top-10 for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP on Brno Friday
The second half of the MotoGP season kicked off today at the Automotodrom Brno circuit with the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sunday's Monster Energy Grand Prix Ceské republiky. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi spent the morning tuning their bikes and rode to fifth and ninth place respectively in the combined timesheets in the afternoon.
Having stood on the podium at the previous two rounds, Viñales followed the same free practice procedure this morning, earning himself a provisional fourth place as he focused on his YZR-M1‘s set-up. Once the balance of the bike was to his liking, he improved his time and concluded FP1 in third position with a 1‘56.982 lap, 0.063s from first.
With dark clouds looming above the Brno circuit and the possibility of rain for tomorrow‘s FP3 in mind, the Spaniard amended his FP2 strategy. He shortly continued his preparation for Sunday's race on his first run before switching to the soft rear tyre. Viñales showed his confidence, dropping into the low 1'56s, and set a benchmark time of 1'56.084s for first place, 0.590s ahead of his closest rival. A late charge by other riders saw him finish fifth in today's combined times, 0.282s from the top.
Rossi was keen on getting back aboard his Yamaha and it showed as he put in an early lap for third place in FP1. He then swiftly moved on to putting his attention towards finding a perfect balance for his bike. He kept focused on improving the bike's race set-up and rounded off the morning practice with a best time of 1'57.827s for tenth place, 0.908s from the top of the rankings.
In the afternoon, the Italian followed a similar process as his team-mate, getting a feel for the conditions on his first run before an early time-attack. The Doctor managed to get a 1'57.494s lap in, moving him up to fifth, but encountered a technical issue as he started his second hot lap. He lost valuable time nursing his bike back to the pits, but soon re-entered the track on his second bike. He had dropped back to eighth place, but put his head down on his fourth run, with 5 minutes to go. On his final lap he set a 1‘56.527s and ended the first day in ninth position in the combined free practice standings, 0.725s from the front.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“Honestly, I‘m really happy about today, because we worked hard for the race. So, if it rains tomorrow we have the work done, and I think we did it in a good way. The race pace is really good and I felt quite good with the bike. I set my lap time a little earlier than the rest, which can be a little bit tricky, but I needed to do it so I could concentrate on working on the race. In the last part of the practice we worked on the race distance and it felt good, the bike was working well. The tyre degradation is difficult for everyone, the tyres drop so much, so we need to understand which spec drops the least over 20 laps. It‘s difficult, but we will see what we can do.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“I had a problem with the engine of the first bike, it was a bit old. We don't know what happened, but anyway it was broken. The forecast for tomorrow is not fantastic, so it's important to stay in the top-10. We are ninth, so we can await tomorrow's weather, and if it's wet, we are already in Q2. If not, we also need to push tomorrow morning. Anyway, the pace and the lap time are not so bad. It was quite good for the first day.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It's good to be back on track and, though it wasn‘t all smooth sailing for us today, we accomplished our goal of having both riders inside the top-10. Maverick found a solid base to work from for this weekend right from the start of FP1. He feels confident and the fast lap he set early on in FP2 is close to today‘s fastest time, so these are all positive signs. That said, we still have work to do on the set-ups, because we know there‘s room for improvement, but in general the feeling is already good. Valentino was unlucky to suffer a mechanical issue in the afternoon, which cost him valuable time and meant that he had to resume the last part of the session on his second bike. Nevertheless, he and his team still pulled through with a top-10 result, so he has a provisional slot in Q2 should it rain tomorrow morning. We will work hard tonight to prepare the bikes and fine-tune the race settings on both sides of the garage to further boost our performance tomorrow.”