Mixed and unpredictable conditions at the TT Circuit Assen on the first day of the Dutch GP meant that Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team’s Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo had to pounce when the opportunity to get dry hot laps in presented itself. Their strategy for the opening sessions of Round 9 paid off as they banked the first and fourth fastest time of the day, which could prove especially valuable should it rain during tomorrow’s FP3.
Viñales was quick to head out and get to work in the morning session. He was keen to make up for a difficult weekend at the Sachsenring and quickly put his YZR-M1 at the top of the timesheets in the early stages, before getting serious with his bike’s setting. He soon found a good rhythm and set multiple provisional P1 times. Top Gun really put his M1 to the test at the end of FP1. He wrapped up the session with a 0.111s advantage over second place, thanks to a 1’33.072s, set on lap 22/23.
The number-12 rider kept up his impressive pace in the afternoon, setting a 1’33.241s early on in the session, again putting his name at the top of the standings. He then began with fine-tuning his bike’s set-up a bit further and was planning to do some tyre comparisons, but soon a slight drizzle halted the FP2 progress. With the track surface neither dry nor wet, the Yamaha man opted to wait for the track to be fully wet before heading out again to get a feel for the conditions. With no further opportunity to put in hot laps, he ended the session solidly in first place in the FP2 and combined timesheets with a 0.111s advantage over his closest rival, thanks to his best morning time.
Quartararo made the most of the dry FP1 track time, putting in three runs in total to collect valuable data on the medium front and hard rear tyre. His fondness for the Assen track shone through as he picked up his pace. Whilst focusing on getting his dry set-up ready, he secured fourth in the timesheets in the process when he dropped a 1’33.633s on lap 18/19. He ended the morning session 0.561s from the front.
El Diablo was motivated to shave off a bit more time in FP2 by making the most of the nimble character of the Yamaha at the Assen track. He bettered his personal best lap to a 1’33.491s for third in the FP2 rankings, before rain temporarily stopped the track action. The Frenchman got a first impression of riding in the wet in the final eight minutes of the session, which will be useful information should rain persist during the Dutch GP weekend. His fastest lap, set on lap 4/13, earned him fourth place in combined results, with a 0.419s margin to first.
We had a good first day at the Dutch GP weekend, it’s just a shame that some of our work was cut short due to the sudden rain in FP2. During the dry track time in FP1 and at the start of FP2, we made positive first steps. The M1 suits the Assen track incredibly well, to the point that it looks like it’s been made for it. Our riders are both feeling very positive about their performance level, should we have all dry sessions this weekend. However, this is Assen… Here it can rain at any moment, like we saw today. The showers in FP2 weren’t predicted and it spoiled our plans to try various tyre options. But, on the bright side, once the track was fully wet, it at least gave Maverick and Fabio the opportunity to get a first feel for the new track surface in rainy conditions, whilst trying not to take any unnecessary risks. All in all, we are quite satisfied with how we started the weekend, but we are careful not to get ahead of ourselves. The weekend is long, and you never know what might happen here, so we are going to stay focused and keep paying close attention to how the weather forecasts develop over the weekend.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
Today went well. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be that competitive and fast. When in FP1 I saw a 1’33.0s with twenty laps on the tyre, I thought ‘That’s a fast lap time, honestly’. And this afternoon, I was cruising and trying to get a better understanding, so this 1’33.2s was also good. Basically, I found good grip on the bike, and I can do more or less what I want on track. I can ride the lines I like, and that seems to pay off in the lap times.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
This was a positive first day. In FP1 the soft gave me a bit of a strange feeling, so taking that into account, looking at my pace, it wasn’t that bad. In FP2 we tried the medium front and the hard rear, because we knew that the conditions could change any moment, and it was good to also have given the hard tyre a try. I think we did a good job. On the wet, I was a bit too careful because I’m in a situation where I don’t want to make any stupid mistakes, but I feel like today was a normal day for us. We found the feeling, it is there. We need to improve in a few corners where I was struggling today, but let’s say we’re already in a great position.