This just in from Yamaha:
Vinales Earns Pole as Wet Conditions Put a Damper on Qatar Qualifying
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team leave the Losail International Circuit this evening without being able to ride, due to track conditions being too dangerous, but captured its first pole position of the 2017 MotoGP season.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team was disappointed to be unable to head out of the pit box on the third day of the Grand Prix of Qatar weekend. Due to heavy thunder and rain last night and this morning, standing water at the Losail International Circuit didnt allow any track action to take place today.
Riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were looking forward to getting a feel for the conditions in an extra 20-minute Free Practice session, before putting a final hand to their bikes’ race settings in FP4 and entering the Q2. However, safety concerns caused by the mixed track conditions, standing water at places where the riders are at maximum lean angle, and the reflection of the glaring floodlights on wet tarmac caused the additional practice session to be cancelled.
With the weather remaining uncertain, the teammates had no other option than to wait for either a dry race line to form, so they could go out on slicks, or for the rain to start in earnest, allowing them to put on the wets. When there was still no sign of improvement in the weather conditions and the state of the track after 20:15pm (GMT+3) Race Direction was forced to call off all action for the evening.
With no track-action being done today by any of the MotoGP riders, Viñales and Rossi have secured first and tenth place on the grid respectively, based on their placement in the combined Free Practice 1-3 results. They now look forward to return to the Losail International Circuit tomorrow to continue proceedings, starting the 30-minute warm-up session at 16:50 (GMT+3) and the race at 21:00 (GMT+3).
Maverick Viñales – Pole position
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team
The conditions were tricky today and finally I think they made the right decision, because it was totally impossible to ride. The conditions were mixed, there was a lot of water on the track, so I think they made the correct call. In the end, we didnt ride for the show, but rider safety comes first. Today it wasnt hard to stay focused, I was in the box the whole time. Seeing the images, it would be difficult to go out on track with that much standing water, so I was trying to stay focused in case we would go out and try, but it was better that we didnt try it today, because it was quite tricky. We will try to check our race pace and the bike in the warm-up, try to get a good feeling and the best confidence with the bike going into the race.
Valentino Rossi – 10th
For us, personally – we are a little bit slow and behind so having less time on track is a problem, but thats the way it is. We couldnt do it any other way, because the track didnt have the conditions required for us to try. I think in a full wet or dry session I could have improved my position on the grid, which is the bigger problem, because Im in the fourth row. To modify the bike, we will have a half-hour warm-up tomorrow. Even though it isnt exactly held in the night, we will try to understand and afterwards we will discover if I’ll have enough pace to make it a good race.
This is a very disappointing turn of events, not just for us, but for everyone involved and especially the fans, who are looking forward to starting off the season in full force. However, there was nothing to be done about todays situation. With the circuit surface not being suitable for either wet or dry tyres, the best cause of action is to cancel the qualifying sessions and continue the normal racing schedule tomorrow. Its a pity that we couldnt use todays session time to our advantage, but on the bright side we get to congratulate Maverick with his first MotoGP pole position at only his first Grand Prix weekend with Yamaha. The decision to use the combined free practice standings is less fortunate for Valentino, who will start from tenth place, but we know his great capacity to cut through the field during the race. Tomorrow the warm-up session will be crucial to prepare for the race, because for sure the conditions of the track will be completely different than at the start of the event.
Zarco to begin race from head of the second row and Folger from 8th
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders did not experience any action today in Qatar due to continuous rain which prevented the riders from taking to the track because of safety concerns. Despite the efforts of the dedicated staff at the Losail International Circuit, it was not possible to clear the streams of water that crossed the track. The grid positions will be based on the combined practice times that were recorded in the three free practice sessions. As a result, Johann Zarco will kick off his first MotoGP race from 4th on the grid with Jonas Folger launching from 8th. There will be an additional ten minutes in each warm-up session, with the race schedule remaining as planned.
Johann Marco – 4TH
“Today we didnt do qualifying and our grid positions will be based on the combined practice times. As a result, I am happy about the work that I have completed since the first session on Thursday. We knew that the weather in Qatar this weekend could complicate things so I spoke with my crew about how to be as fast as possible in the practices. I am pleased that this strategy worked for me but I was lucky yesterday when I did my lap time because I followed Maverick and I learnt a lot of things. Tomorrow I will launch from the head of the second row and its a good opportunity to kick off the season in a positive way. My target is to finish the race in a strong position and I would like to start well from 4th and remain with the front guys like Maverick and Marquez so that I can gain some knowledge from them. If I stay close to the leading group for at least half of the race, I can achieve a solid result.”
Jonas Folger – 8TH
“Its a shame that we couldnt ride today, but I will begin the race in a good position after the positive lap time that I set in FP2. Having said that, its a shame that I have to wait a bit longer to experience the qualifying, but safety comes first and I think that race direction made the best decision. Im really looking forward to starting my MotoGP career after such a successful winter test season so I will give my all to get a strong result tomorrow.”