Second & Fourth Row for Monster Energy Yamaha in Motegi Qualifying
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales pushed hard in today‘s Q2 session at the Twin Ring Motegi track. He will start tomorrow‘s Motul Grand Prix of Japan from fourth place on the grid, having narrowly missed out on the front row. Valentino Rossi showed strong form in a drying FP4 but couldn‘t duplicate the feeling in qualifying and ended the session in tenth position.
Rain in this morning‘s FP3 session meant time and place improvements in the combined free practice rankings were not possible. Because of this, Viñales‘ and Rossi‘s FP2 results saw both of them through to the Q2 session.
Viñales was the last rider to leave pit lane for the 15-minute shoot-out in an effort to use the clear space on track to his advantage on his first hot lap. A tricky moment cost his some time, but he still posted a provisional fifth place. It wasn‘t long before the level was raised and the times dropped. The Spaniard responded by putting in another good lap, for sixth.
He returned to the pits with seven minutes still on the clock. After a two-minute stop, the number-12 rider headed back out, finding himself in ninth position and immediately produced two red sectors and two orange ones to set the second fastest lap so far, a 1'46.090s. There was still time for one last attempt, but the Spaniard couldn‘t make any further improvement. He ended the session in fourth place, 0.327s from first.
Rossi left the pit box feeling motivated after a P5 result on the drying track in FP4. However, he didn‘t have the same feeling in Q2. He set the sixth fastest lap on his first try but lost some ground as the rider field started to push. Though the Italian was giving it 100% and improved his time on the next two flying laps, he was in 11th place as he returned to pit lane.
After a quick swap of tyres, he was back on his way. He was flashing orange sectors on his next try but ended up in 12th position. It wasn't until his very last lap that he posted a 1‘46.558s, 0.795s from first, which was exactly the same lap time as Aleix Espargaró in ninth place. However, as the Spaniard had set the time one lap earlier, Rossi will start the race from tenth position, on the fourth row.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“Honestly, in these drying conditions, our bike is always difficult, but overall today has been very positive. Being the first rider on the second row was close to the objective, so we can be happy and positive. I think tomorrow we have a good opportunity again to make it a good race. We will for sure try to battle at the front, I will do my best.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
“This weekend so far we tried something that was a little bit different to improve the braking, which is a difficult job, but we‘re trying. Today I still wasn‘t fantastic on braking, but apart from that we‘re all very close in general in terms of the setting. I expected more from Q2, try to start a bit better, because in FP4 I wasn‘t so bad, but it is the way it is. We wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow, because it looks like it will be completely dry. My pace in the dry was good yesterday. Today it was quite dry, but the conditions were difficult for everybody. We need to understand if we can improve a little bit for tomorrow, so I can have enough pace to recover positions.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“As predicted, the weather played a big part in today‘s activities. The track conditions were never the same: wet in FP3, mixed in FP4, and almost dry in Q2. Maverick did well to adapt. He has been competitive in all circumstances, showing a strong pace in all sessions so far this weekend. He was pushing for a front-row start and came close, but in the end he just lost out. That said, second row is still a good place to start the race from. Valentino had expected to be more competitive today in Q2, especially because he was feeling good on the bike with the soft tyre combination at the end of FP4 when the track was drying. It will be a hard race, especially for him, starting from the fourth row. But it looks like it will be dry all day, so we have an idea what we should prepare ourselves for. We are still looking for a few more improvements. We hope it will be fully dry, so we can test them tomorrow morning. The Warm Up will also be decisive for the tyre choice.”