Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi got back into the saddles of their YZR-M1s for this weekend's Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Viñales loves the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, and it showed in his perfect results: he topped both FP1 and FP2. Valentino Rossi also had a productive day working on his bike in the wet and the dry conditions. He secured seventh place in the combined FP timesheets.
Rain couldn‘t stop Viñales from getting into the groove early on at the Phillip Island circuit. He put his Yamaha briefly in second place and then got to work perfecting the set-up. Fifteen minutes into the session the Spaniard decided to raise the level. He was pushing, clocking a 1‘39.338s for provisional first. He improved his time gradually on the next two tries, only to finish the mid-session run with a 1'38.957. This red-hot time in the wet conditions kept him firmly at the top of the FP1 rankings, 0.147s ahead of his closest rival.
As often at the Australian circuit, the conditions in the afternoon were completely different from the morning session, with the bright sunshine greeting the Yamaha rider as he went out on track to defend his P1 position from the morning. The number-12 rider quickly adapted to the dry track conditions on Run 1, setting a 1‘30.110s for first place again, and kept up his benchmark-setting form. When the pace quickened, he retaliated on Run 2 before he switched to a soft rear tyre for a final push. He posted a 1‘29.012s, increasing his advantage, and followed it up with a 1‘28.824s, the first and only 1‘28s lap of the weekend so far. It earned him first place in the FP2 results with a 0.496s gap to the rider in second.
Rossi was on it right from the start of FP1. He was setting multiple personal best laps and featured in the top 5 as he searched for a set-up that suited the wet track conditions. The Doctor returned to the box to have some adjustments made to his YZR-M1 and went back out on track with 20 minutes to go. However, with rain coming down hard 15 minutes before the end, it was difficult for the Italian to improve his time. He had dropped to sixth place but delayed his hot lap, making another quick stop. On Run 3, he moved up to fourth in the final three minutes with a 1‘39.885s, putting him 0.928s behind his team-mate.
The Doctor needed a little time to get comfortable in the dry conditions in FP2, but once he had tweaked the YZR-M1‘s setting to his liking, he recovered to sixth place before the usual ’mini time attack‘ at the end of the session. He put in a flying lap, a 1‘29.436s, for fifth place but was eventually pushed to seventh. The FP2 result also put him in seventh place in the combined FP timesheets, 0.612s from first.
FP2 was followed up by a special Tyre Test Session at the demanding Phillip Island circuit, to test the durability of the 2020 Michelin tyres. Viñales and Rossi used the 20 minutes of track time just to gather data on the Michelin new soft rear casing, which increases stability and grip. They finished the session in third and seventh place respectively.