Viñales Gives Qualifying Masterclass in Valencia
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales wrote qualifying history today at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo, becoming only the second rider ever to secure pole position after first taking part in the Q1 session. Valentino Rossi didn't find a good feeling in the wet or the dry sessions. Despite pushing hard he will start tomorrow's Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana from 16th place on the grid.
In Q1 Viñales had a strong first hot lap that saw him put his YZR-M1 in second place, but he was pushed back to third when the pace picked up. The Spaniard wasn't shy to respond with a 1'32.418s lap, putting him at the top of the provisional rankings and giving him a 0.593s advantage to his closest rival at the time.
He re-entered the track after a pit stop of just over a minute. When three and a half minutes remained, the fight for a place in the top-2 heated up, but the Yamaha rider was ready to push. He was one of the first riders to drop under the 1'32s mark today and secured second place with a 1'31.858s lap.
The local hero exited pit lane late at the start of the Q2 session, as he needed a bit of time to make some changes to the bike after the previous session had come to a close only ten minutes earlier. His first lap briefly put him in fourth place, but he soon found himself in tenth. Viñales improved his best lap of Q1 thus far, but still entered pit lane holding eighth position. However, he was just getting warmed up.
After a quick look at the provisional times, he entered the track meaning business. He clocked a provisional pole and, to keep the first place in his grasp, posted a 1'31.312s immediately after. As the chequered flag went out, nobody was able to challenge him. He ended the session with a 0.068s lead, thus securing his first pole position since the 2017 Grand Prix of Aragón.
Rossi had a more challenging outing than he expected, starting with a crash this morning at turn 4 during the wet FP3 session. Nevertheless, he was still eager to head out of pit lane for the 15-minute time-attack in the afternoon. He didn't find a good pace during his first stint, however, and was in tenth place after the first two flying laps.
He hurried to the garage for a quick pit stop. When he rejoined the action, he was determined to use the remaining session time to his advantage. He improved his time on the next try and climbed up to fourth place with a 1'32.452s. However, as the session came to a close, he was unable to make any further strides. He completed Q1 in sixth place, 1.070s from first, and he will start tomorrow's race from 16th position on the grid.
Position: 1st - Time: 1'31.312 - Laps: 9
"Great to be back on pole and to be on the front row. The target for today was to be on the first or second row, and in the end we got pole, so that's something amazing and unbelievable. I'm so happy, to finish the season in that form, feeling really strong. Honestly, I can't say anything more than that, I'm just happy. However, I will take it session by session. We did good in the qualifying and I'm excited about tomorrow, but tomorrow is another day. It could rain, or maybe not, we don't know - we have to be ready for all conditions. I think the bike, in the rain, still needs to be improved. The bike we have right now is in the top-10, but let's see. I'm curious what will happen. It's very important to start from pole, because if you're at the front in the first laps it's better. I'll do my best, but there's no pressure. It's the last race of the season. I will give everything, but I don't pay too close attention to the championship standings right now, I'm just going to enjoy the time on the bike and let's see if we can be at the top."
Position: 16th - Time: 1'32.452 - Laps: 9
"It was a difficult day, very tough. On the wet yesterday I felt comfortable, so I was quite optimistic this morning that I could finish in the top-10 because it was still wet. I tried to push at the beginning and I crashed with one bike, but apart from that I was not fast enough in FP3 anyway to go through to Q2. After that the conditions changed and it became drier, so from the morning to the afternoon we changed something on the bike, but in reality I never felt good and couldn't push 100% in the afternoon. At the end, I improved my lap time in Q1, but it wasn't enough to get into Q2, so we start from very far back, which will be hard. We have to work and try as hard as possible, and we also have to wait and see what the conditions will be like tomorrow morning, because the forecast is very bad."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"It's a mixed result for the team, but a very great end to the day for Maverick. It was unfortunate that he so narrowly missed out on advancing straight to Q2, but he used his determination and fought back in a really strong way to take pole position. Today Valentino didn't find the right feeling in both the wet and the dry. Especially after yesterday's results we hadn't expected that. The FP3 session wasn't predicted to be wet, but as a silver lining we have been able to gain information that will be important for tomorrow's race. The weather is unpredictable, but the forecast doesn't look good. Should the race be dry, we think Maverick will be very competitive, but in the rain we still have some work to do. For the moment, Valentino's situation is the opposite. Starting from the sixth row makes the race for him very difficult, but we've seen him handle situations like this before."
Zarco Set to Attack from Fourth Row in Valencia – Syahrin Aims to fight Back
Monster Yamaha Tech3 star Johann Zarco delivered a strong performance on Saturday in Valencia. In the third session of the weekend, he set the fifth fastest time and therefore, was the only Yamaha rider of the field who went straight to Q2. He displayed his strong pace again with clinching P2 in FP4. During Qualifying, he was on his way to take over the top spot, but unfortunately went down in turn 10 and now has to find his way back from the fourth row on Sunday.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 garage, Hafizh Syahrin experienced a decent second day at the Spanish track. In wet FP3, he improved his best time from Friday by nearly two seconds and conquered an impressive eighth position by the end of the fourth Free Practice. Later on, he was fighting on a mostly dry line in Q1 to eventually end up in 11th, which means he has to start the ultimate Grand Prix of the season from the seventh row of the grid at 14.00 local time tomorrow.
Position: 11th – Time: 1’32.179 – Laps: 6
"Saturday in Valencia has been a good day. In FP3 we did some great work with the team and I could manage the decisive practice well, caught a top 5 result and made it to Q2. So I was happy, but at the same time there was not so much water on the track. This gave me great confidence, although the bike was not perfect. In the afternoon, we had dry conditions. I enjoyed it and was quite competitive. I began the Qualifying not too good, because something was missing on the bike. We tried to change it a bit to get an enhanced feeling. When I restarted with the second new tyre my feeling improved immediately a lot. I could control the bike better, but trying to be fast on the first flying lap, I crashed in turn 10. It's a right corner, so maybe the front tyre was still a bit cold and also because the conditions were not 100 percent clear. It's a pity, because the potential for the first row was there today. Now we start in 11thposition. Anyway, we will see what happens tomorrow and hope to have a strong race from the beginning to the end in order to play with Danilo Petrucci and Alex Rins."
Position: 21st – Time: 1’32.749 – Laps: 9
"We had a good Free Practice four and also found a great rhythm this morning. In Qualifying, the conditions were quite difficult, as it was mixed. Anyway, I know that we are always working hard. It was not easy to turn the bike in the corners, which made it tough to control it in the exit and therefore we lost a lot in terms of corner speed. I hope we can make one step forward tomorrow in the Warm Up, if it's dry. In case it's wet again, we continue working in our direction, because now we started to find a good way on wet surface. I hope we can improve in the morning to have a great last race of 2018."