Rossi’s Cunning Strategy Overcomes Mechanical Problem In Qualifying

This just in from Yamaha:

Movistar Yamaha Riders Straight Through to Q2 in Qatar

Free practice

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi worked their way through a challenging second and third free practice session ahead of the Grand Prix of Qatar. The teammates finished in first and tenth place respectively in the combined times.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team was impatient to hit the Losail International Circuit at the start of the FP2 session today. With the weather remaining clear after a rain shower earlier in the day, which slightly lessened grip on track, Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi lined up their YZR-M1s intending to perform once again, taking first and tenth place respectively in the combined free practice results.

Viñales kicked off the session showing his usual quick and consistent pace. A small slide down the track, ten minutes into the session, cost him a bit of time, but it didn’t do any damage to his placement in the provisional rider rankings. Having posted 1’55.378s earlier, he held first place in the provisional standings for most of the session, until the pace quickened at the very end. The young Spaniard escaped any injuries and rushed back to the pit box to continue his practice schedule, but was unable to improve on his time and ended the session in fifth place, +0.293s from first.

The Yamaha debutant showed his mental strength in the second 45 minute session and continued work as if the incident had not taken place. At the end of FP3, he reclaimed his place at the top of the timesheets. Proving the earlier slip-up didn‘t affect him one bit, he set a fastest time of 1’54.834s on his very last lap. However, that was not enough to beat his own stunning 1’54.316s lap from the day before, which sees him sail through to Q2 on his first Yamaha race weekend.

Teammate Rossi needed a little more time in the late afternoon session to find his pace, as he continued testing various bike settings. Towards the end of FP2 his feeling with the bike improved and he decided it was time to put in a softer tyre. The Italian then made a late charge to the front of the standings, in order not to risk finishing outside the top10 and having to go through Q1 if it rained during FP3. He set the provisional second fastest time, but a last-minute flurry of activity saw him end up in sixth place, +0.329s from the front.

The Doctor’s cunning strategy paid off just like he planned. His improvement in time in FP2 saw the nine-time World Champion take eighth place in the combined standings and with the temperatures dropping later in the evening, little improvement was made in FP3 until the final stages. Initially Rossi had planned a time attack at the end of the session, but an issue with a sensor caused him to make an extra pit stop and lost him time. Back out on track in the last minutes, he still pushed to the maximum, posting a fastest time of 1’55.790 for 13th place in the FP3 rankings, 0.956s behind the frontrunner, but it was his 1’55.414s from FP2 that earned him a spot in Saturday’s Q2.

Tomorrow the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team will again be out on track in the evening under the floodlights. The teammates will attend the FP4 session at 19:55 – 20:25 (GMT+3) and the Q2 session at 21:00 – 21:15 (GMT+3).

Maverick Viñales – 1st, Time: 1’54.316 / 17 LAPS

The crash in FP3 was a big mistake on my part. Honestly, I was pushing and ran a little bit wide and it was at that point where you have to decide to run wide or try to go into the corner and I tried to go into the corner and lost the front. It was my mistake and I was angry with myself because I can‘t tolerate mistakes, but I’m happy anyway because we had a really good pace today, even when the track conditions were not as good as yesterday. It was very slippery but finally, when we got the tyre to work, we set many consistent 1’55 laps, so I’m quite happy about that. I didn’t feel so good on the bike on the soft tyre, so I didn’t push to the limit. I was trying to keep up a good pace. The bike is working great, we just have to improve the grip a little bit. Maybe today’s weather conditions and the rain added a bit of dust on the track, so we will have to check that tomorrow, but I’m happy overall, apart from the stupid mistake.

Valentino Rossi – 10th, Time: 1’55.414 / 18 LAPS

Today we started in a good way, because in FP2 I wasn’t doing so bad and I set my best lap time. We still needed to improve, but in FP3 I suffered from a lack of grip and was more in trouble. At the end, I also had a problem with a sensor. We had to change the rear suspension for another one with another setting that wasn’t fantastic. I did just one lap and I wasn‘t able to improve my time of FP2, but the good thing is that we stayed in the top10, so tomorrow we can start from Q2 and we’ll see. We have to work: I’m still not able to enter the corners fast enough and I suffer a bit, so we have to try to make that better. I think for me personally it will be difficult to do the whole race on the softer tyre, so we are now more open to using the medium tyre.

Massimo Mereglli

Today has been an eventful day for us. The bad weather earlier in the afternoon somewhat affected the track conditions and this made it very difficult for the riders to improve their times. Nevertheless, Maverick was fast this morning. He only made a very small mistake and the ‘punishment’ was a bit out of proportion. He missed the race line, got onto the dust and had a minor fall. Fortunately, he was OK and there was little damage to the bike, so we were able to get everything ready for FP3. Though he didn’t better his time from FP1, he was again the fastest rider in FP3 and it was a productive session, as it allowed him to focus on the race pace. Valentino bettered his feeling with the bike a bit in FP2, thanks to the changes we made overnight, but there was still room for improvement, because it wasn’t as good as he wanted it to be. Unfortunately, when he went out to try to do a time attack the bike had a problem with a sensor that interfered with the electronics strategy. He had to stop his lap and come back into the pits and lost some time. This issue prevented Vale from improving his lap time. Tomorrow we will use FP4 to get everything ready for the qualifying session.

Zarco blazes through to Q2 in 4th after delivering a superb performance – Equally impressive Folger close behind

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rookie pairing of Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger shone on the second day of action under the floodlights by producing two deeply impressive displays to both qualify for Q2 in their first MotoGP event. Johann Zarco kicked off the day with a superb run to 4th in FP2, and he then increased his pace in the third session to notably finish in 3rd and a mere 0.174 from the top with his time leaving him in 4th overall. Whilst Jonas Folger continued to highlight his quick adaptation and talent on the Yamaha YZR-M1 by completing FP2 in 3rd, which saw him clinch 8th in the combined times. Both riders now set their sights on sealing two strong qualifying positions tomorrow with FP4 taking place at 19:55 local time and then the all important Q2 shootout beginning at 21:00.

Johann Zarco – 4th – Time: 1’55.008 – Laps: 35

“I am very happy with our performance today. The work that the team and I did was really good and going straight through to QP2, and being ready for it, is important for many reasons, but also because we can save some tyres. In all honestly, I was not completely confident on the first day due to the track conditions, even though my position was positive. However, today my confidence increased and I was a bit lucky because in the final session, whilst I was using the soft tyres, I followed Maverick and I learnt a lot from him, plus I improved my lap time. It was a job well done for today and now I will keep focused for the qualifying. Additionally, I will prepare for the race as much as possible because I think that if I am strong for 22 laps, then I can finish with a big smile on my face on Sunday.”

Jonas Folger – 8th – Time: 1’55.208 – Laps: 29

“Today went very well for me and I was able to lower my lap time from the first practice. However, in FP3, I went out on used tyres and I tried to reach the limit but then I fell. This was a shame, but we are not far from the fastest time and we have a good bike for tomorrow so I am sure that we can do a solid job. I would be really happy if I could qualify in the top ten, yet my main target is to produce the lap time that I managed to ride in the test. This means that I have to improve by 0.4 of a second, but we will have to see what happens with the weather because there may be rain. However, it does not matter if it comes, as we are ready and I am happy with everything so far.”

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