Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi got their first laps in at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo today. The final race of the MotoGP season is always an exciting event, and the riders showed their motivation by pushing to the limit despite the cool temperatures. They ended the day in 2nd and 14th place respectively in the combined free practice results.
Viñales was happy to be riding in front of the Spanish fans again and made a hot start to FP1, despite the quite chilly, and thus tricky, conditions. The local rider was quick to get a hold on second place in the provisional standings, and then moved on to work on his bike’s race setting, only riding with the soft-medium tyre combo. His best time, a 1'31.595s, set on his second run of three, put him in fourth place, 0.140s from first.
The Spaniard gave the fans a performance worth waiting for in the cold on the grandstands in the afternoon as well. He featured within the top-3 for most of the time and even topped the rankings as he put in a time attack in the final minutes. It was a pity he ran into traffic on his penultimate hot lap, but he still managed to wrap up the session in second position with a best time of 1’30.883s, 0.148s from the top in the FP2 and combined free practice results.
Rossi was quick to adapt to the Valencian track. He carried a competitive pace and became a top-3 contender halfway through FP1. He spent the remainder of the session tweaking his bike's set-up. He was planning to up his tempo on his third run. However, he got caught out in Turn 4, where the cold right side of the tyre slid out from under him. The Doctor was unhurt but unable to further improve his time. His best lap was a 1'31.976s, putting him in eighth place, 0.521s from the front.
This scenario repeated itself in the afternoon. The Italian was eager to show a strong pace but crashed in Turn 10 on the sixth lap of his first run in FP2. Though he again escaped injury, it did halt his track activity for a while. When he got back into action, the Yamaha rider put his head down once more to improve his best effort. Despite the eventful session, he managed to find 0.1s on his fastest time thus far and produced a 1'31.775s lap for 14th place, 1.040s off the best time of the day.
“Valencia is quite a challenging track as it is, and these cold conditions made it all the more tricky. Today’s results don’t really tell the full story. We actually saw in the two FP sessions that our riders both have a good pace. Maverick did a great job and is feeling very comfortable on his bike. It was a shame that he ran into some traffic on what would have been his best hot lap, but second place after Day 1 is definitely a good starting point. Vale had two crashes, both in a right-hand turn, which is easily done here due to the characteristics of this circuit. Luckily, he walked away from the crashes unhurt, that’s the most important thing. But it did cost him quite a bit of time and confidence. In any case, we have seen our riders show positive signs today in terms of actual race pace, so we will continue to head in this direction, especially focusing on the tyres.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“I’m quite happy, because I think we made a good start. It was a good Friday, and I’m feeling great on the bike as always. For sure, we still have to improve some points, but I think the rhythm is there, and that’s the most important. I think we are on a good level, and for sure we can further improve, so we're going to try and give it everything tomorrow. We have to work more on the tyres, because it didn’t feel great, especially during the time attack, so we will work a little bit more on that area.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“Fortunately, I’m OK. The first crash was quite ‘light’ but the second one was a bit heavier. Here in Valencia it’s always dangerous on the right side of the tyre, especially in these conditions, because it’s very cold, it’s wintertime. This morning I made a mistake, I pushed too much already on the first lap and I crashed. The crash in the afternoon we understand less, because it was already after seven laps or so, but this is the way it is. But I’m OK. It’s a shame, because before the crashes I was quite strong. My pace wasn’t too bad. We need to work on the bike to decide on the right tyres, but the most important thing is to try to make a good lap tomorrow in FP3 to be in the top 10, and then we’ll see.”