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Assertive Start for Movistar Yamaha in Austin

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team showed competitive form on the first day of the Grand Prix of The Americas. Maverick Viñales rode his YZR-M1 to the top of the FP1 time sheet and secured third place in the afternoon session. Valentino Rossi took a little bit more time to get a feel for the Circuit of The Americas (COTA), ultimately wrapping up the day in fourth place in the combined standings.

True to his usual form, Viñales’ name was found at the top of the standings early on in the first 45-minute free practice session, with a 2’06.515s lap. Feeling completely comfortable in the balmy weather conditions, he was the only rider to dive under the 2’05s mark when he improved this time by more than a 1.5s, taking first place with a best lap of 2’04.923s, 0.577s ahead of his closest rival.

The afternoon saw more of the same from the young Spaniard. He gradually built up speed to top the timesheets, dropping a 2’04.451s lap using a race set-up. His time remained unchallenged until the final minutes of the session when a flurry of activity saw him get pushed back to third in the combined practice times and end the day 0.390s from first.

Chasing his first win in Austin, teammate Rossi was also determined to position himself as a key protagonist early on in the weekend. Though he initially struggled to get a feel for the mixed character of the COTA track in FP1, the Italian continued to make progress. His best time, a 2’06.292s, earned him eighth place, 1.369s from his teammate.

As the conditions heated up in the afternoon, so did the Doctor’s efforts. He worked hard to make another step in FP2 and worked his magic at the end of the session. He improved his time by 1.486s, when he posted a 2’04.806s, moving him up to fourth place, also in the combined standings, and within 0.745s from the front.

Maverick Viñales – 3rd, 2’04.451 / 17 LAPS
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team

I’m really happy, we were working really hard for the race. We are quite confident, I know we can do a very good job. I’m working good, I’m working hard on the bike, I feel that I’m on a good level. We still have to work on the electronics in many places. I’m feeling great, that is something important. We were focusing on ourselves. We’re doing a good job all the time, we are trying to improve step by step. Important for us is working for the race, preparing for the last ten laps, because that’s where we can improve.

Valentino Rossi – 4th 2’04.806 / 17 LAPS
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team

On this track the winglets can help. We do a lot of accelerating from a low speed, but we also have a lot of change of directions, so we prefer to go with the normal cowling. It was a better start compared to the first two races, for sure, those were a disaster. I think this is very important for us, because we didn’t change the bike a lot from the Argentina setting and tried to understand if the bike also works on this track, which is very different. Already this morning I was in the top10 and not far from first. It looks like we will be able to do some adjustments, but now we have a better understanding of the base setting. In the afternoon I did a good lap with the softer tyre, so I’m fourth, but we still have to work on the pace. Especially braking, it is difficult to stop, but for sure, compared to Qatar and Argentina, this is a better start. After Qatar I expected better results, but in Argentina I suffered a lot. There we really modified the balance of the bike a lot and now I have a better feeling. For me, we understand something important.

Massimo Meregalli
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

Today was definitely a very positive start to our weekend at COTA; surely the best start ever since our first race here in Austin. Even more so if we consider that Maverick did his best lap time on a race set-up bike! Valentino has spent his best Friday since the start of the championship and this will give him the chance to work “quietly” tomorrow, to fine-tune the bike. Both riders are pretty satisfied with their bikes’ set-up, although we believe there’s a big margin for improvement tomorrow. Let’s say our riders have given us more than one reason to be confident for Sunday. Today we tested several tyre specs with good feedback both about lap times and wear. Tomorrow we’ll continue this work and we’ll decide which configuration is best for the race.

Zarco powers to 2nd on day 1 of Americas GP – Confident Folger seals 8th

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rookie duo kicked off their round 3 campaigns with two highly impressive performances today at the state of the art Circuit of The Americas. Johann Zarco outlined his intentions for the weekend by producing an extremely competitive showing on the opening day. The French rider completed the morning shakedown in 4th and then upped his pace in FP2, which he superbly finished in 2nd and as the leading Yamaha MotoGP rider. Meanwhile, Jonas Folger positively concluded the opening day of action with a strong display as he aims to score a top tier result in Texas on Sunday. The young German sped to 8th overall, with his FP2 time leaving him just 0.227 behind Valentino Rossi in 4th. Both riders now confidently eye up the qualifying tomorrow, with the action commencing with FP3 at 09:55 local time or 16:55 in Europe

Johann Zarco – 2nd – Time: 2’04.347 – Laps: 34

“We started the weekend in a very positive way and I’m looking forward to pushing more tomorrow. Today I ran a lot of laps on the medium and used tyres in order to get up to speed. Then, at the end of the FP2 session, I went out on the soft compound, which clearly works well at this circuit, and my feeling was strong which is why I could ride a quick lap like in qualifying. We made the right choice by choosing to complete some distance first, and then when we needed to cut the time, I produced a lap which put me in second, so right now the situation is perfect. The track is tough with the constant changing of direction as well as a lot of hard braking points and it costs energy, plus it’s a bit bumpier than last year. However, even though I am still learning, everything is going well so far. We will continue our work tomorrow for the race on Sunday, but before that, I am confident that I can produce a positive qualifying performance.”

Jonas Folger – 8 th – Time: 2’05.033 – Laps: 30

“It was a solid first day and I’m certain that we can do a really good job here on Sunday. The Circuit of The Americas is such a technical track with a lot of corners, so it took me a bit of time to adapt and find the flow on the MotoGP bike. However, in FP2, on the last run, we put the soft tyres in and I was able to ride quite a positive lap so to finish the day inside the top ten is a strong start to proceedings. There are a few corners where I am making some small mistakes and missing a bit of pace, so I need to sit down and analyse where I am going wrong in order to try to improve myself. For tomorrow in FP3, we will work on the race setup and then once we have found a good pace, we will go for a quick time so that I can get into Q2 in the afternoon. I am certain that we can continue in this encouraging way and I’m excited to get back on my Yamaha.”