Vinales and Rossi Take 3rd and 5th in Catalunya Qualifying
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi found extra speed on the second day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. They secured third and fifth place on the grid in today's Q2 for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya.
Viñales got straight down to business during the 15-minute session, setting a 1‘40.007s on his first hot lap for provisional pole. He followed it up with another two fast first sectors but had to abandon his try in S3. As a result, he dropped to seventh place on returning to the pit box for a fresh set of tyres, but the Spaniard‘s challenge was far from over.
After a two-minute stop he headed back out for his second run. The timing was perfect: as most of the rider field was just heading into pit lane, he had a clear track in front of him. The home rider wasn‘t able to further improve his time on his next attempt, yet he remained determined to make his fans proud and set three red sectors on the following lap. It resulted in a 1‘39.710s, his best of the session, to briefly take first again. But, as other riders completed their fastest efforts, he ended in third place, 0.226s from first.
Rossi started his time attack a little after his team-mate, letting half of the other Q2 challengers exit pit lane ahead of him. He gradually got into the groove. His first hot lap put him in tenth place and his next moved him up to sixth, before the Doctor really got his head down. He improved his time but not his ranking and held sixth place as he headed to the pits with five and half minutes remaining.
Less than a minute later he was back out and didn‘t let any time go to waste. He soon set a 1‘39.753s for fifth place. Though he had one more lap left, he was unable to top his earlier time and ended the session remaining in fifth, 0.269s from first.
Following the Q2 session, Race Direction imposed a penalty of three grid positions on Viñales for being slow on the racing line and disturbing another rider. Viñales will start tomorrow's race from P6, whilst Rossi moves up to P4.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"This is very good news for us, because it looks like Yamaha is fast and competitive here. Today I continued where I left off yesterday, with a good pace. I feel good with the bike. In the afternoon, with the higher temperatures, it's maybe a bit more difficult, but anyway I will start from the second row, which is good. Now I think the tyre choice, front and rear, will be very important, because everybody tried a lot of different combinations, so we need to think well and understand what the best option is for us."
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"We improved the feeling quite a lot, so I'm happy about that. As I said, we were working in a different direction. Let's see tomorrow if all the hard work pays off. I'm ready to start and get in front. We've worked in a good way, but it has been difficult to set one good lap, because the bike is quite a bit different from what I was riding in Mugello. Let's see if tomorrow we can improve, but anyway it's very important to be consistent, to be in front, and battle with the front guys. I will try my best.
"I misunderstood the chequered flag. I didn't do it purposely or with malicious intent, so for me the penalty is too severe, but I have to accept it, because this is the way it is. For sure I'm not happy, but there's no excuse. We start from sixth, which isn't bad at all, it could have been worse. I'm not so far from the first row, just a few metres behind it. If I have a good launch at the start, I think we can be good. I will still try to be in front in the first corner."
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"We've made some steps today. Maverick and Valentino both went straight into Q2 and this allowed us to really focus on race pace during FP4. Both riders had good runs in all of today's sessions and the qualifying results are a positive starting point for tomorrow. It's a shame that Maverick was given a penalty, as this puts him in P6. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but we have to accept Race Direction‘s decision. We know that the level of competition is very high here and, with both our riders starting from the second row, we expect an action-packed Sunday. We'll have to push 100%. Both slippery track conditions and tyre degradation will play a big part in tomorrow's race, making the tyre choice crucial. Though the track conditions in the Warm Up will be different from the race, we'll try some final adjustments, so our riders can compete at the front."