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Confident Start by Movistar Yamaha at “Cathedral of Speed”


The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team was back in action at the TT Circuit Assen today, starting the first free practice sessions in strong form. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi made the most of the perfect riding conditions and landed first and fourth place respectively in the combined session times.

Viñales is a great fan of the Dutch circuit and it showed. He built up his pace throughout FP1 and it wasn’t long before he climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a 1’34.550s. He spent the remainder of the session tweaking his bike’s settings. As the pace quickened in the latter stages he posted a 1’34.404s to finish in second place, 0.177s from first.

The Spaniard was keen to pick up where he left off in the afternoon session. He dedicated a large part of FP2 to perfecting the balance of his YZR-M1 and, whilst the temperatures kept rising, Viñales’ times were dropping rapidly. He had saved his best for his last stint and dropped a 1’33.378s to end the day in first place, 0.121s faster than his closest rival.

Eager to repeat last year’s win, Rossi began his Assen challenge with finding a solid basis set-up and trying different tyre combinations. He was looking to better his feeling with the front tyre. The Italian spent most of the practice time working on the balance of his bike until his last run, when he improved his time to a 1’34.513s on a medium front and rear tyre. He secured third place, with a 0.286s gap to first.

The afternoon saw more of the same from The Doctor. He spent the majority of the 45 minutes working on the same matter as in the previous session, before putting his bike to the test in the final stages. Clearly feeling at home at one of his favourite tracks, he wrapped up the first day of the TT Assen with a fourth fastest time of 1’33.779s, 0.401s behind his teammate.

Today’s results also see Viñales and Rossi take first and fourth place respectively in the combined standings.

Maverick Viñales
Position: 1st – Time: 1’33.378 – Laps: 43

“We worked on some small details, the parts where we lost the most in Montmeló, especially the start and the first few laps. We were competitive there at the end of the race, so we are trying to give me a good feeling with the bike in the early laps. I feel good in Assen, it’s a good track for me. The bike is working really well and I’m so happy about the work of the team. We’ll still keep focused and maintain this level of concentration to work on the small details and build up to a good weekend. We want to make the start the best we can. We were struggling last time, but we’re hoping to solve it. It’s difficult to predict what we can expect, but after a positive first day, we are on the level to fight for the race.”

Valentino Rossi
Position: 4th – Time: 1’33.779 – Laps: 41

“On paper we expect to be strong in Assen, but you never know. The first day was positive, because I was good in the morning and also in the afternoon I was inside the top-4, which is not so bad. The bike works well here in Assen and also the tyres are good, allowing you to push and have a good pace for many laps. On the other side, it’s also true that all the top riders are very fast. The pace is very similar, so we need to work well, also to try to understand the best tyre choice for Sunday. We hope that this weather will continue for the entire weekend.”

Massimo Meregalli
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director

“We made an assertive start to the GP in Assen. We liked the approach Maverick showed today. He pushed from the beginning of each run, switching bikes each time. His results are encouraging, especially considering that the bikes were both always in race configuration. He’s feeling very comfortable and this was confirmed with his 1’33.378s fastest lap, so that boosts our confidence, but we still have some room for improvement. Valentino didn’t have a good feeling with the front during both practice sessions. During FP2 he spent most of the time working on improving this. Nevertheless, he was able to set the fourth fastest time. There’s some more work to do, but we still have time to give him a setting that makes him more comfortable. All in all, so far we’re feeling positive and we’ll focus on preparing for Sunday’s race.”

Determined Monster Yamaha Tech3 Pair Gets to Grips with Assen Circuit

Johann Zarco initiated the Dutch Grand Prix today with a solid performance, improving his fastest lap from FP1 to FP2 by one second to eventually reach the top 10 and therefore a provisional entry to Q2 on Saturday. Meanwhile the fastest rookie of the field, Hafizh Syahrin did well to lower his best lap time from the first to the seconds session by impressive 1.592 seconds. Yet, the Malaysian concluded day one at the sunny TT circuit in P12, before pushing hard again tomorrow in Free Practice 3 at 9.55 local time.

Johann Zarco
Position: 10th – Time: 1’34.133 – Laps: 37

“This morning the beginning here in Assen was difficult. I was sliding a lot with the bike and when this happens, you lose the control too much. So, I was fighting from the first practice on and knew, that we have to try to control the bike better. In the afternoon we did a huge step, that helped me a lot. Unfortunately, I had a small crash, but luckily I don’t feel any pain, plus we understand the reason for this, which is important. I think we can keep on working with this good feeling we had in the afternoon, I still enjoy sitting on the bike and this will for sure help to find the pace to be with the top guys again.”

Hafizh Syahrin
Position: 12th – Time: 1’34.246 – Laps: 41

“I felt very good on the first day, we are just 0.8 from the front. I have the sensation that I can do a little bit better, but sometimes you feel this, but something disturbs you. I was on the fast lap and found a bit of traffic. Anyway, I believe that I can improve my lap time from now. Overall, it’s ok. In the first Free Practice I tried to learn and tried to understand the track, because this circuit is very fast. In FP2 I felt really good, like in Montmeló we are close to the top 10 again, which is quite good. I’m the first rookie again and aim to stay in this position, plus trying to get into Q2. I hope that we can make another step forward tomorrow.”