Third Row Start for Movistar Yamaha at Twin Ring Motegi

2018-10-20 19:41
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi came out fighting in today‘s Q2, featuring at the top of the rankings at the start of the session. However, the teammates were unable to keep their challenge going during their second run. They secured seventh and ninth place respectively for tomorrow's race at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

Viñales was quick to start the 15-minute shoot-out and left the pits making sure there was enough space between him and the rest of the field, before starting his first flyer. He immediately put his Yamaha in second place, just behind his teammate. The Spaniard was one of the many riders flashing red sectors on their second try and improved his time. Nevertheless, he found himself in seventh place as he entered pit lane with a little under seven minutes on the clock.

The youngster was soon back out on the track, eager to put the hammer down once more. Unable to further improve on the next attempt, he gritted his teeth and pushed even harder on his seventh and final lap. He dropped a 1'45.140s, 0.550s from pole, which briefly moved him up to sixth, but some last-gasp track activity after the chequered flag had come out pushed him back to seventh place again, on the third row of the grid.

Rossi was quick to start the qualifying session and left the pits shortly before his teammate, hoping to find some clear track. He immediately made his mark with his first flying lap securing provisional pole and bettered his time on his second effort. As the pace intensified he dropped to fifth position whilst making his way back to the box with slightly more than seven minutes to go.

A quick stop later, the nine-time World Champion was back in action. With just enough time for two more hot laps, he put his head down, yet he was unable to produce a faster lap than the 1'45.265s he set on lap 3, which was 0.675s from the session‘s fastest time. He will start tomorrow's race from ninth position.

Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Team wild card rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga had a tough second day at the Motegi track, suffering a crash in FP4. Thankfully unharmed, he was able to still put in a solid performance in Q1, taking 20th place, on the seventh row of the grid. His fastest lap, a 1'46.441s, was 1.012s from pole.

It was fundamental that the FP3 and FP4 sessions were dry, so we were able to proceed with the work on the dry set-up, especially after losing dry track time in yesterday's damp FP2. We had some solutions to try today, but in the morning practice session we found that not all of them worked, so we had to continue our work in FP4. Though we made progress in terms of getting more power on the ground, and both Maverick and Vale had a good start to Q2, we had expected to be more competitive. Unfortunately, Vale's qualifying result was compromised. He actually felt good with the bike earlier, so it's a pity it cost him a row. It will be a hard race for both riders, starting from the third row. We are preparing a different setting tweak for tomorrow's warm-up with the aim to make a further step. We still have some small doubts about the decision on the race tyre, so we'll see in the morning.

Taking seventh on the grid is not disappointing to me, because we are actually trying to learn some things for next year, but for sure it also wasn't the result I wanted. After yesterday's FP1 I thought I could be close to the top and that a front-row start was possible, but we got worse on the braking areas, so that's what we need to work on tomorrow. Tonight we will have a look to see where we are losing in terms of braking power compared to yesterday, and we'll see if we can improve it. I don't know what to expect for tomorrow's race. I hope to be at the front, which I should be able to fight for if we improve the braking. We have to keep focused tomorrow and try to make another step. I'm actually happy about the traction, I didn't expect to have such good traction here, so that's very positive.

Today was not fantastic, but it was also not so bad - it was a bit average. My pace improved compared to yesterday. It's nothing great, but we're with about five riders who have a similar pace, so the race will be very much open. Unfortunately, I could have done better in qualifying, but we made a mistake in the box with the rear tyre and I didn't have any grip, so I didn't try my fullest on the second run. If that hadn't happened, I think I could have started from the second row. To me, that's my potential. We'll see tomorrow. We have to improve in some areas, because I'm not very happy about the setting. We have to try to do better.

Source: Yamaha Motor Racing

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