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Cautious Start for Movistar Yamaha on Soaked Opening Day in Spain

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi treated the Circuito de Jerez with great care today, as they found themselves in wet to intermediate conditions during the first free practice sessions of the Gran Premio de España.

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA (SPAIN), 5TH MAY 2017  Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi started the fourth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship today at an overcast Circuito de Jerez. While rain dampened the pace in FP1, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo rounded up the FP2 session in Spanish sunshine, taking sixth and twelfth place respectively and the same positions in the combined time sheets.

Eager to claim a position in the top ten at the end of the first day, Viñales headed out on track to get familiar with the circuit. However, wet track conditions and persistent rain meant he had to stay cautious. The Spaniard was aware that the weather was predicted to clear up later in the day, so he took no unnecessary risks and set a best time of 1’52.555s, 0.907s from first, earning him tenth place.

The young gun made great progress in the afternoon when the sun came out. He improved to a 1’41.718s and was on course to better his position, when a small crash in turn nine lost him some track time. Fortunately uninjured, Viñales hurried back to the pit box. This slight set-back didn’t stop him from pushing at the end of the session, when he set a 1’40.379s lap for sixth place, 0.959s from first.

Teammate Rossi also kept his patience in this morning’s miserable conditions. With FP1 being uncharacteristically wet for the Andalusian circuit, he used the session to adjust his bike’s wet setting and assemble some valuable data to be used for future wet GPs. He slowly upped his pace during the 45-minute outing and finished with a best lap of 1’53.263s, for 16th position, 1.615s from the front.

The Doctor carried forward his gradual improvements in the afternoon. He was keen to return to the track and get a feel for the drying Circuito de Jerez, whilst skilfully avoiding the wet patches. He continued to work hard on his setting and dropped under the 1’41-mark on his third and last stint. His fastest time of 1’40.698s leaves him just outside the top10, in 12th place in today’s combined times, 1.278s from the front.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI
TEAM DIRECTOR

There was rain predicted for today and it certainly played a role in FP1 and FP2. The track conditions were very tricky in the morning, so we were careful not to take any risks, especially since we expect tomorrow and Sunday to be dry. We made most of the situation to work on a wet setting, that still needs to be improved on this year’s bike. In the afternoon there were many wet patches on the track and unfortunately Maverick got caught out by one in turn 9 and lost the front. Luckily, he was left unhurt and was able to improve his time. Valentino also faced some difficulties due to the conditions of the track and couldn’t work properly on the set-up of his bike. We have work to do on both sides of the garage to fine-tune the settings for tomorrow’s FP3 and we expect the condition of the track to become better too, which will allow us to exploit our bike’s strongest points.

MAVERICK VIÑALES
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER

I’m OK. I went a little bit outside of the race line and there were some wet patches. As I told the team, I didn’t have the chance to pick up the bike again, so I crashed. Anyway, after I exited pit lane again, I was feeling good with the bike. We still have to improve some areas, but I’m quite happy overall, we did a good lap time. Finally for tomorrow, we have to make a good FP3 to go directly into Q2, so we still have to do some work. I tried the aero-fairing, but we still have to try it again tomorrow, because today the track was 50/50 and it was difficult to understand if it was better or not.

VALENTINO ROSSI
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER

The conditions were quite wet today. This morning the track was full wet and the first impression is that with this bike we suffer a bit more. We have to work. In fact, we were not very fast this morning. In the afternoon it was dry, but not completely, so we had to stay cautious because there were some humid patches. In the afternoon we also had some problems. We are not fast enough, so we have to work.