2018 MotoGP Thailand - Chang International
Movistar Yamaha Charge to First and Second Row in Hot Thai Qualifying
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales delighted the Thai fans at the Chang International Circuit with their speed on the second day of the PTT Thailand Grand Prix. After two solid practice sessions the teammates put their head down again in qualifying to score second and fourth position on tomorrow's starting grid.
Rossi left pit lane as one of the last riders, along with the majority of the field. Due to the traffic on track his first lap put him in tenth place, but he quickly climbed up to fifth on his next try. With eight minutes remaining he returned to the box.
After a quick stop the Doctor resumed his time attack, and he was in the zone. He set a 1'30.099s to take provisional pole, but it wasn't to last. The Italian was in second position when he had two more tries left. Pushing hard, he was especially strong in sector 3 and 4 but couldn't further improve on his fastest time. He held on to second place on the grid for tomorrow's race, just 0.011s from pole.
Viñales followed the opposite strategy from his teammate. The Spaniard waited for the light to turn green at the exit of pit lane to make sure he was the very first rider out on track. His benchmark lap, a 1'30.871s, put him in third place after all riders got in their first flyer.
As the pace picked up the youngster dropped back to sixth place on entering the pits. He changed to a second soft rear tyre but was unable to find the same confidence out on track. Luckily, the Spaniard was on a two-stop strategy and could hurry back to the team to switch to his second bike.
The pressure was on in the final three minutes of the session, however, that's when the number 25 rider thrives. He set a fastest first sector and three personal best sectors on his very last attempt and clocked a 1'30.328s. The lap boosted him to fourth position, 0.240s from first.
Position: 2nd - Time: 1'30.099 - Laps: 8
"I felt good with the bike already from yesterday, but today we did some modifications and we went in the right direction. I'm happy because the bike improved a lot. It looks like, at this track, we can make the tyre work in a good way, so I can ride on the limit. The bike is good and I'm also very happy because in FP4, with the race tyre, I had a good pace. I hope that we can do a good race and fight for the podium."
Position: 4th - Time: 1'30.328 - Laps: 9
"I thought I could be on the front row, but I made some mistakes on my best lap, especially concerning the front tyre. I should have chosen the hard, but I picked the medium to be safe, but on the hard I'm feeling much better. I'm actually really happy that in FP4, with the used tyre, we made a good improvement. We changed the bike a little and it was better, so I think that maybe tomorrow we can do another step. I feel much better. Improving the small details will make tomorrow's race a little bit easier and will for sure make us more competitive."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"Today we made another good step. It was a very strong qualifying from Valentino. He already showed he had an impressive pace here in the free practice sessions, especially in FP4, and he set some really great times, two very low 1'30s laps, during Q2. It's unfortunate that Maverick didn't have good confidence on his second tyre, because his speed in all free practice sessions made him also a contender for the front row. Nevertheless, having our riders start the race from second and fourth position is a good result. They have a good pace and both are satisfied with their bike and the tyres, so we are optimistic for tomorrow's race. We still have some room for improvement and we'll try to finalise the set-up for the race in the warm-up. The conditions are quite extreme and tyre management will be fundamental."
Zarco and Syahrin to Launch Thai GP from Third and Sixth Row
Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco displayed a strong performance in today's third Free Practice and progressed to ninth on his last lap to clinch a direct Q2 entry at the Chang International Circuit. In Qualifying the fast Frenchman cut off 0.95 seconds from his fastest lap on Friday and ensured a start from the third row for the first ever Thailand Grand Prix at 14.00 local time (9.00 CET) on Sunday.
Likewise Hafizh Syahrin made a huge step in FP3 this this morning, braking the 1:32' mark to improve by 1.042 seconds compared to the first session on Friday. In Qualifying this afternoon, he lowered his lap time by further 0.330 seconds and eventually found himself in eighth place, missing out on Q2 by only 0.478 seconds. The Malaysian rookie aims to work further towards the race in Warm Up tomorrow morning in order to bring home some important championship points again.
Position: 8th - Time: 1'30.471 - Laps: 8
"P8 is ok. Again, I'm just three tenths from the top guys. It's super close! Maybe I could do one tenth better in Qualifying, the bike was responding well and an even better lap would have been possible, but it's always difficult. About the race, it's a track I like, so I hope I can enjoy. I wish that I can be competitive with used tyres, because that's our weak point at the moment, but anyway, my feeling here is better than in the last two races. We have to take it easy. With the heat it's going to be a difficult race, so I want to keep good energy and fight until the end to have a good result."
Position: 18th - Time: 1'31.389 - Laps: 8
"I was able to improve my lap time from the winter test, but it was still not enough today. We keep working hard and we're definitely on a positive way, I just need to work step by step, as it's not easy in this category. So, I try to keep pushing hard and work even better and I hope we can do something for tomorrow's race."