After Viñales dominated practice and won the first round in Qatar, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team must be excited to see the trend continue. Can Maverick expand his early lead?
Begin Press Release:
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP ROARS INTO ACTION IN ARGENTINA
Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales set the tone at the first two free practice sessions of the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina. Teammate Valentino Rossi also had a productive day, but struggled to find the right feeling and secured 16th place.
Termas de Rio Hondo (Argentina), 7th April 2017
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team had a mission today. With rain expected tomorrow, Maverick Viñales was gunning for a place in the top10 and put his mark on the first day, leading both sessions. Valentino Rossi had a challenging start to his 350th Grand Prix weekend and wrapped up the first day in 16th place.
Viñales made his prediction, stated in yesterday‘s press conference, come true when he completed his first kilometres on the YZR-M1 in Argentina. His riding style matched the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit perfectly and the Spaniard swiftly moved up the timesheets, setting a 1‘40.796s benchmark. He spent the second half of the morning session completing the mandatory 5-lap harder rear tyre run and surprised friends and foes when he improved on his best lap multiple times, to end the first session with a 1‘40.356s, leading the pack by 0.206s.
The youngster continued his work on his YZR-M1 in the afternoon. He left pit lane for FP2 with a hard front and rear tyre and only needed seven laps to breach into the top2, but the pace soon picked up when all riders had completed the hard tyre test and switched back to the softer options. Viñales dropped back down the order, but upped his game in the final minutes, dropping two laps under the 1‘40-mark in quick succession, the latter a 1‘39.477s. He ended the day on top with a 0.301s margin to his closest rival in both FP2 and the combined practice times.
Rossi had a different approach to FP1. He used the first part of the session to ready his bike’s setting, before putting in a soft tyre in the final part to set a solid time. Towards the end of the session he dropped a 1‘41.311s lap for seventh place, but as the majority of the riders put in a time attack in the final minutes, he was pushed back to 16th, 0.955s from first.
The Doctor went out of the gates early in the 45-minute second outing, to test the hard option rear. He used his first run solely to make his YZR-M1 fit the Termas de Río Hondo track‘s sweeping corners and hard acceleration demands, before it was time to get down to business. He gradually improved his pace, and gained nearly 0.8s on his best time from this morning with a 1‘40.531s lap, but he was unable to climb higher in the standings. He finished the day with a 1.054s margin to the top of the timesheets, again in 16th position, also in the combined times.
We got quite a lot of work done today during the free practice sessions, including the mandatory hard rear tyre run. The conditions of the track were not as bad as last year and this allowed us to start working properly on the bike‘s set-up. The track seems to suit Maverick: he posted fast and consistent lap times and, though there is still some margin for improvement, he is very comfortable with his M1. Valentino worked hard in FP1 and FP2, improving the turning of the bike. They found a solution that bettered the handling, but as a result he suffered from a lack of rear grip. The countermeasure for this issue has been decided on and we will try it in tomorrow‘s FP3. The problem that remains is the weather. We hope it stays dry, at least for tomorrow morning, so we can fine-tune the settings ahead of the
I feel very positive. I feel great on the bike and physically I‘m really fit. The bike is working good, we are using the basic set-up, and from the first lap I felt really comfortable on the track. Step by step we are improving and we still have some work to do for the race, but I think we have the speed, so that‘s really important. I don‘t know if the hard rear will be an option for the race. It‘s difficult to tell, because we had some wheel spin, so I don‘t know. We are trying many things, but what is sure is that we have good speed. We still have to decide on a race tyre. Tomorrow we have a lot of work to do, so let‘s start and see what the
lap times are like.
We hoped to have a good feeling, like we had in the race with the bike, but it was more similar to what the feeling was like in the practice sessions in Qatar and in the tests. We have a lot of problems to enter the corners fast with this bike and I don’t feel comfortable. I’m about one second behind, but the problem is that we are all close together and we have a lot of different riders that are very fast, so we need to improve the feeling and the setting of the bike and we hope that tomorrow morning’s FP3 will be dry. We will try to improve and try to stay in the top10 for the qualifying.