Third Row Start for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Teammates in Le Mans
A red hot qualifying session at the Le Mans - Bugatti Circuit track resulted in both Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates securing places on the third row of the grid for the Grand Prix de France. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi showed competitive speed in Q2, flashing various red sectors, but were unable to ride the perfect lap they had in mind. They secured eighth and ninth place respectively.
Viñales was the second to last rider to leave pit lane at the start of the 15-minute shoot-out. His first flying lap temporarily put him in third place, behind Johann Zarco and Rossi for a provisional Yamaha 1-2-3, until a late starting rider pushed him down one place. The Spaniard went on to improve his time on the next two laps, but still found himself in ninth place as he headed into the pits with more than six minutes remaining.
The young Yamaha-rider soon commenced his second time-attack. He meant business, setting a fastest time in S1 and moved up to seventh place. He again picked up the pace on his next attempt, clocking a 1'31.784s lap, but he didn't improve his position in the rankings. He finished Q2 in eighth place, 0.599s from the front.
Rossi was unhurt after a fall in FP4 and was quick to exit the pit box for qualifying, knowing that every second counts. His first hot lap put him in second place. Fully in the flow, he continued his challenge. He produced two fastest sectors on the next lap but wasn't able to hold the advantage, and thus bettered his time but not his place. He was in eighth position as he and his teammate returned to the pit box.
Two minutes later the Italian re-entered the track. Despite improving his best time on the next two hot laps, he couldn't find the right feeling and was unable to fight for the top spot. He qualified in ninth place, with a best lap of 1'31.900s, 0.715s from first, and will be joining Viñales on the third row of the grid tomorrow.
Position: 8th – Time: 1’31.784 – Laps: 9
"My race pace is good when it's cold, but when it's hot it's more difficult to keep up that rhythm. I'm not exactly sure what my best potential is for tomorrow. It will be hard to repeat our performance from last year, but I will do my best. This morning was really good, I enjoyed the bike and was pushing on every lap, but this afternoon the track conditions were different, it was impossible to do the same lap times. I expected 1'31-low laps, because in the morning I did 1'31's easily. It's going to be a difficult race, but we're going to try to score the maximum amount of points. There's still the warm up left to improve for the race. I don't know which tyre I'm going to use yet, but I have a good rhythm with both."
Position: 9th – Time: 1’31.900 – Laps: 8
"We tried something in the afternoon, but unfortunately I made a small mistake and I crashed, but my pace is not so bad. When we put in the new tyre I expected to go faster. In the last lap I also made a mistake, but the main problem is that the others are faster. We'll continue work tomorrow to arrive on the pace and we will try to make the right tyre choice. I will try to push to the maximum to be inside the top-5. After the first three, there are three or four riders with the same pace as me. It will all depend heavily on tomorrow's conditions, the start, and the first few laps, so we'll see."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"After the strong FP3 session this morning, today's Q2 results were not what we had hoped for. We knew that the qualifying session was going to be full-on, but nevertheless we expected to be a bit higher up the order. Maverick and Vale will both be starting from the third row, which is always a challenge, but since their race pace is quite strong I think they can still fight for good results tomorrow. Tonight we will assemble the data from today's sessions and prepare some setting updates that we can test in tomorrow's warm up, even though we won't be making any big changes as the track conditions will be completely different in the afternoon. Tomorrow morning we'll also make our final decision on which tyres to use for the race."
Zarco Seals Incredible Pole at Home – Syahrin with Best Qualifying Performance to Date
Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco delighted his home fans today in Le Mans with snatching a super pole position ahead of his and the French team's home Grand Prix tomorrow. The local hero timed his new pole record at the Bugatti Circuit to perfection, securing the top spot during the last minutes of an awesome exciting qualifying and is therefore, the first Frenchman at the front of the first row on home soil since Christian Sarron in 1988.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin did an equally great job. The MotoGP rookie delivered a stunning performance and missed out on Q2 by just 0.336 seconds. The Malaysian eventually secured the fourth position in Qualifying 1 and with it his best ever starting position until now. He'll launch the French GP from the middle of the fifth row on Sunday at 14.00 local time.
Position: 1st - Time: 1’31.185 - Laps: 8
"It feels great and it's very emotional for me. I didn't expect to have these emotions already during Qualifying here. For sure, I wanted to be fast, but when I saw the 31.185 on the dashboard I was surprised myself. The first run was already quite good, but I felt that the new tyre can deliver even more on the first lap, so I tried it for the second exit and it worked well. The job we did, working with different tyres, is amazing. A huge thank you to the crowd here, because they gave me a lot of positive energy. Let's see, if this energy is enough to win tomorrow."
Position: 14th - Time: 1’32.397 - Laps: 8
"We did a very good job on day two. In FP3 we improved an also in FP4 we went better. Also myself, I have more confidence on the brake. I want to say thank you very much to my team, because they always do a fantastic job, they try to pass me their experience and this is very helpful. I can do low 32' and I was very close to Q2, anyway, it's my best qualifying and we try to keep the consistency for tomorrow's race. I want to avoid to do any mistakes and bring home as much points as possible for my crew in their home race."