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Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Top Opening Day in Assen

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi started their challenge at the TT Circuit Assen today. Their efforts in the opening sessions of the Motul TT Assen weekend paid off as they banked first and ninth fastest time in the combined results so far.

Viñales was quick to head out and get to work in the morning. He continued the good feeling he had in Catalunya, quickly putting his YZR-M1 at the top of the timesheets in the early stages, before getting serious with his bike‘s settings. He soon found a good rhythm and took the provisional P1 spot once more and held onto it for the majority of the session. In the zone, he even further improved the benchmark-lap three more times to end the session with a 1‘33.986s. That lap ultimately earned him second place in the FP1 ranking, 0.077s from first.

The number-12 rider kept up his impressive pace in the afternoon. He began with fine-tuning his bike‘s set-up a bit further and set the provisional third-fastest time with 15 minutes still on the clock. However, he soon turned up the heat further when he started his final run on a fresh set of tyres. The Yamaha man set the first 1‘32s lap of the weekend and followed it up with a 1‘32.638s to defend his P1 status. Thanks to this, he ended the session solidly in first place in the FP2 and combined timesheets, with a 0.180s advantage over his closest rival.

Rossi had to be patient at the start of the morning session. He lost 15 minutes due to a minor technical issue. Despite the delay, the Doctor still made the most of the track time he had left and completed two full runs in total. His fondness for ’the Cathedral of Speed‘ shone through as he picked up his pace. He steadily fought his way up the order to secure 12th in the timesheets as he dropped a 1‘34.746s fastest lap, 0.837s from the front.

The Doctor kept chipping away at his time in FP2 whilst making the nimble character of the Yamaha suit the twisty sections of the Assen track. Riding on the medium tyres, he bettered his personal best lap to a 1‘34.513s. After completing his second run, he switched to soft tyres in the final ten minutes for a top-10 shoot-out. The Italian made strides and wrapped up the session posting a 1‘33.517s lap for ninth place in the FP2 and combined results, with a 0.879s margin to his team-mate.

Maverick Viñales
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team

“The feeling I have is pretty similar to what I had in Montmeló. I think I made some improvements regarding my riding style, and I take a bit a of profit from it here in Assen. But it’s only just the Friday. We are keeping our heads down, working very hard for the race. It’s very important to get a good result and create good momentum, so we are going to try our best. We’re pushing. We know the bike needs to improve in some areas, so we’re going to try to do that tomorrow. Our main focus is the race and the first laps, so I’m going to do the same as I did in Catalunya and see if it works on Sunday. I will try to be on the front row, so I can make a good start. I also have some things to try tomorrow to see if I can improve my rhythm a little, because some riders are very fast. Let’s see what we can do, but anyway it has been a good day. Even in the hot conditions I felt good on the bike with hard tyres, which means the bike is working.”

Valentino Rossi
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team

“So far it’s not fantastic. At the end I’m in the top-10, this is already quite good. On the other hand, especially my pace is not great. The top guys are a little bit faster, because at some places at the track I’m not very good. So, we have a lot of work to do, also deciding on the tyres and everything, and we have to improve in these places.”

Massimo Meregalli
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Overall, this was a good day for us. Maverick is looking very strong and he is feeling comfortable. Even if it’s just the first day, it’s a warm welcome to the weekend and the top result bodes well for the next few days. On the other hand, we started the day with a bit of a delay on Vale’s side of the garage, due to a small technical issue. But in the end, he managed to limit the damage from loss of track time, so he is still inside the top-10, which was the target for today. During tomorrow’s FP3 we will be completely focused on going straight into Q2 with both riders, and in the afternoon, in FP4, we will put all our effort into preparing for the race, because we expect the conditions to be similar to those of Sunday’s race. This will also be the right time to decide on the tyre specs.”