The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team were on the edge of their seats during today’s qualifying sessions at the Spielberg circuit in Austria. Nobody was able to match Maverick Viñales in Q2. He secured his 11th pole position with Yamaha, his first since the 2019 Australian GP. Valentino Rossi also impressed with his speed in Q1, securing a place for Q2 in the final moments. He will start tomorrow’s race from P12.
Viñales was fired up and ready to go at the start of Q2. He was the first rider out of pit lane, and his first flying lap saw him in second place. His next try put him in the top spot ever so briefly, before it was cancelled due to exceeding track limits. However, the Spaniard coolly reproduced the hot lap and set a 1’23.694s for provisional pole.
With more than seven and a half minutes remaining, the number-12 rider arrived back in the garage for a quick rear tyre switch. When he returned to the track, he set a 1’23.643s to increase the gap to the runner-up to 0.073s. It turned out this still wasn’t enough, but the Yamaha rider had one more ace up his sleeve. When he was pushed to second, he responded with a 1’23.450s to take pole by 0.068s.
Rossi left it to the final moments of Q1, when the chequered flag had already come out, to make his mark. He had been pushed back to fourth in the provisional rankings and needed to dig deep. The Doctor delivered, though, and the Factory Yamaha team celebrated as his 1’23.891s last lap earned him second position and a place in Q2.
Shortly after, the Italian continued his charge in the second qualifying session. He initially put his YZR-M1 in fifth place, but there were red sectors all over the live timing, indicating the fight was far from over. Rossi defended his position by bettering his time, but it wasn’t enough. He was lying in eighth by the time he returned to the pit box with eight minutes remaining.
After a short stop, he continued the hunt for a front row start. He bettered his time but not his placement once more on lap 7. Unable to make any further strides on the next three attempts, he finished the session in 12th place, 0.545s from pole.
Compared to yesterday, we made great progress. Maverick was feeling a lot more comfortable in damp and dry conditions, and that translated in a competitive time in FP3, FP4, and this really strong pole. Valentino also put in a great performance in FP4 and also immediately after in Q1. Unfortunately, the second rear tyre he used in Q2 didn’t work as well for him as the ones he used in Q1, so he has to start from the fourth row. In FP4, earlier today, we have been able to compare the soft and medium rear tyres, both might be an option for the race. The final choice will be made during the Warm Up, if it’s dry. Even though this traditionally isn’t one of our best tracks, purely based on track lay-out, we have a Yamaha on pole and another one in third place. We have been making steps in the right direction, and this is a great boost for everyone involved in the Yamaha MotoGP Division. Tomorrow we’ll try to deliver similar positive results.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
I'm really happy because my objective today was to be on the front row, but suddenly I felt an incredible feeling with the bike, also in FP4. From this morning we made a really big improvement. The team has done a really good job last night, so we need to try to understand which tyre will be the best option for tomorrow's race. Anyway, the bike is working fantastic, very different from Brno. So, I'm very happy and enthusiastic. We know that on one lap we can be very fast.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
We worked well during FP4. Unfortunately, this morning the conditions were difficult, but in the afternoon we made a good improvement with the bike. I was strong in FP4, but the Q1 is always very tricky, because you need to make a lap time close to pole position to go into Q2. So, as always, we were all very close. In Q2 I did a very good lap time with the medium tyre, because I was running out of softs. Unfortunately, with the last soft I was not able to improve a lot, I didn’t feel very comfortable with the soft and I could improve just one tenth. And now it’s like this, you have to improve with the second tyre, if you don’t, you have to start from behind. But we will see. We need to decide on the rear tyre, soft or medium. And after that we’ll keep an eye on the weather, because also for tomorrow the weather forecast is not fantastic.