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Movistar Yamaha Scores Double Front Row in Texas Qualifying Qualifying

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team’s Maverick Viñales scored a position on the front row with second place in this afternoon’s qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of The Americas. Teammate Valentino Rossi also pushed his YZR-M1 to the limit at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA), claiming third place on the grid in the final minutes.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders wrapped up today’s intense Qualifying 2 session with some red-hot laps, securing Yamaha its first double front row start of the 2017 MotoGP season and setting the stage for a thrilling race.

Viñales waited for most of his competition to head out at the start of the 15-minute qualifying session. Wasting no time, his first flying lap was looking promising, but traffic on the track spoiled his efforts in the final corner. His second attempt, a 2’03.912s, moved him to second place before he rushed back to the box for a fresh set of tyres.

With four minutes remaining, the young Spaniard pulled out all the stops to earn first place. He narrowed the gap to provisional pole to 0.083s with a 2’03.125s, but knew he had a margin for improvement left. He made good on his promising pace, when he dropped a 2’02.871s to briefly take over pole, before being pushed back to second after the flag was out. Nevertheless, Viñales is perfectly satisfied to have secured his second front row start for Yamaha, 0.130s from the front.

Teammate Rossi went straight into action as soon as the green light signalled the start of the 15-minute time attack. The Italian’s first lap initially lifted him to fifth, but he dropped to eighth when all riders had completed their first attempt. The long American track allowed him one more try and he responded soon with a 2’04.758s for seventh, but was back in eighth when he entered pit lane for a quick stop.

The Doctor returned to the pits with around six minutes on the clock and quickly changed tyres in under 60 seconds, before heading back out. Having dropped to tenth place, he was determined to show what he got and cleverly searched for some clear space on track. He perfectly timed his final attack, stepping up his pace on his seventh lap to better his time to a 2’03.673s to take third, 0.932s from first.

Maverick Viñales, 2nd -2’02.871 / 7 LAPS

“Honestly, I thought I had the pole. When I looked at the screen and saw that Marc was behind Valentino I said “ah, maybe he will do it” and in the end he did, so congratulations to him, because it was a nice lap for sure. We pushed at 100% and the bike was working really good. We had to push for one lap, but I’m also happy about the race pace. We still have tomorrow to improve. We will be working hard this night to find a new set-up to try and stop the bike better, but I think we did a great job and we can be there for sure. Pushing 100% from lap one until the last lap I think will be the best strategy. There were many riders on track. I’m not angry at what happened today. When you’re riding a good lap it’s normal, riders are like this. There are no bad feelings between me and Valentino. This is a normal thing that can happen, I’m not complaining. It can happen to me as well, maybe one day I’m in the middle.”

Valentino Rossi 3rd – 2’03.673 / 7 LAPS

“It was difficult because it looked like Maverick and Marquez had a better pace, but starting from the front row is very important. We improved the bike a lot and I knew that, if I had a clear lap, I would be able to do a good lap time. I did it, so in the end it was OK. Starting from the front row is important, as always, this is good also because it’s the first real qualifying. Starting like this is not so bad also for the rest of the season. Now we wait and see what happens tomorrow.”

Starting the race from the first row was our goal, and considering how tricky this circuit and today’s conditions were, we can be very satisfied. This afternoon’s Q2 session was challenging, but we ended up with both riders in a good place nevertheless. Maverick has been fast all weekend and his amazing lap at the end of qualifying shows his potential and confidence, which is very promising for tomorrow. Valentino did a great job as well. He found a clear space on track, right when it mattered, and secured third place. Today, unfortunately, the drop in temperature partly compromised the work we started yesterday and it might play a vital role in our tyre decision. So far, we’ve done a good job, but we aim to make another step during the night. We expect tomorrow’s race to be a tough one, but our confidence is high.

Zarco shines in Americas GP qualifying to clinch 5th – Folger to bolt forward from 8th

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 pair starred in todays nail-biting qualifying shootout in Austin, Texas to seal two top tier grid positions for the headline event tomorrow. With slippery track conditions occurring this morning, both riders graduated for Q2 courtesy of yesterdays FP2 times, with Zarco finishing in 4th and Folger in 9th in the combined standings. When the session began, Johann Zarco immediately laid down his pace before storming to a personal best that eventually left him just 0.062 behind Dani Pedrosa and as the top independent rider. Whilst Jonas Folger pushed the limit in the 15-minute shootout at the COTA track and will start the round 3 battle from the middle of the third row on the grid after producing a solid effort. The main event will commence at 14:00 local time, or 21:00 in Europe.

Johann Zarco, 5th – Time: 2’03.928- Laps: 6

“Today went positively for myself and the team and we are very pleased with the qualifying result for tomorrow’s race. In Q2, we used the soft compound of tyre, like almost everyone else, and my feeling was strong on the Yamaha. I set a solid lap time, and I held third at the end of the session, but then Rossi and Pedrosa, who have a lot of experience, were able to improve their times and I ended up in 5th. The result is still fantastic and I will use this opportunity to push for a great finish. I aim to undertake a solid start and then stay with the top guys for as long as possible and learn from them because this is the best way to gain knowledge. Throughout this weekend my ambition has been to work in preparation for the race, but at the same time, I have been able to post a fast lap time whenever it was necessary. So, I am still learning and I will need some more time to get closer to the front, but at the moment everything is going well which is why I can smile.”

Jonas Folger, 8th – Time: 2’04.623 – Laps: 7

“I am happy with my qualifying result today and I am looking forward to the fight tomorrow in Austin, Texas. We had a bit of a tricky beginning to the day and I had a few issues in the morning. Yet, the team and I worked hard and we found the correct direction to head toward for the qualifying, and here, I got my confidence back. In the end, we scored a solid 8th place on the starting grid which is positive and I know I can do a good job from there. In Q2, Perhaps we could have found a few more tenths, but I made a small mistake at the end. Nevertheless, I am still pleased and tomorrow, if I ride smart and undertake a strong start plus ride a consistent pace, then I know that we can take a lot of points home.”