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Movistar Yamaha Qualifies on Second and Third Row in Argentine Time Attack

Mixed conditions and the associated lack of grip at the Termas de Río Hondo Circuit formed the main challenges for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders today. Nevertheless, Maverick Viñales gave a solid performance in uncertain conditions to secure sixth place on the grid for tomorrow’s Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina in his very first qualifying session on the Yamaha. Teammate Valentino Rossi showed off his brilliance in a tense Q1, having the fans scream for joy when he entered the top2 in the final minutes. He went on to secure seventh place in Q2, right behind his teammate.

Viñales felt excited to embark on his first time attack on the Yamaha with the intention to push to the limit in the tricky conditions. After waiting for most of his rivals to have left their box during the 15-minute shoot-out, he charged towards the pit lane exit, ready to make full use of some clear space on track. Though he was held back due to rear grip issues, the 22 year-old wasn’t shy to open the throttle and consistently improved his times over the first three flying laps.

He sat in fourth place when he made a short pit stop with five minutes remaining. A minute later the Spaniard was back on his mission to move up from seventh place, trying to put his YZR-M1 in the top spot. He had just enough time for one hot lap and clocked a 1’49.218s, 1.706s from first. This personal best lap was enough to secure him sixth place on the grid for his second race start with Yamaha.

Rain in the final stages of FP3 saw Rossi line up for a tense Q1. Lying in sixth place after his pit stop in the first qualifying session, it was time to bring his a-game. He set a 1’50.062s, which lifted him to provisional third place, but was demoted to ninth when his fastest lap time was canceled due to exceeding the track limits. However, the fight wasn’t over.

The Doctor pulled a rabbit out of the hat as he had one more go. He went on to set a personal best time in the first three sectors and pulled off a red time on s4. It was enough to secure him provisional first place, before being pushed back to second by a late hot lap by a rival after the flag had fallen.

The Italian duplicated his earlier strategy in Q2, being the last man to leave pit lane. He immediately moved up to third place as he had done in Q1. As he was unable to improve during his second attempt on the tyre he had already used in the previous session, he speeded back to the pit box for a fresh set of rubber.

With five minutes left on the clock, the nine-time World Champion headed back out on track. Now in eighth place, he put his game face on and started knocking out solid 1’49s laps. On his final try he posted a 1’49.272s, 1.760s from the front, to take seventh position on the third row, after an eventful evening.

Maverick Viñales
Position: 6th – Time: 1’49.218 – Laps: 7

“I’m not disappointed. We struggled a bit with the rear grip and I don’t know why. I felt some strange sliding on the wet, completely different than on the dry, so we have to analyse it. I think we still have to work. It was the first time I went out on the Yamaha in the rain, so there is a lot of work to do on the wet set-up, but I’m happy. In the end, I’m the first Yamaha and Valentino is always really fast on the wet, so I’m quite satisfied and confident. It’s only the second row. From there I can have a good start and also contend for the victory tomorrow.”

Valentino Rossi
Position: 7th – Time: 1’49.272 – Laps: 8

“This is p7, it’s nothing fantastic because in the wet I wasn’t able to go fast like I was last year. We still have to work, but anyway this third row is not so bad and now we have to wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow. We hope for either full dry or full wet. We have a better understanding and improved the setting today and on the first exit I wasn’t so bad, but we still have to work. It’s interesting, there’s a different feeling in the corner entry that I have on the new bike, and it is the same also on the wet. Sometimes the wet is interesting to understand and it’s good to improve the balance and the setting. ”

Massimo Meregalli
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director

“Today the weather conditions played a major role in the outcome. It already had its influence in FP3 this morning, because we had a lot of things we wanted to try. When the rain became heavier in the second half of the session, it prevented the riders from putting in a soft tyre. Because of this Valentino had to go through Q1 to get a place in Q2. Today was Maverick’s first mixed qualifying session aboard his YZR-M1. As a result he suffered from a lack of grip on the rear, as he hadn’t had the opportunity to work on his wet setting before today. However, he once again proved that he is a very versatile rider and quickly adapted to the situation. We have seen how strong Maverick’s pace is yesterday and in today’s free practice he again set fast laps, this time in the damp conditions. All in all, we got a lot of work done in today’s two practice sessions and Valentino also made a good step, so we are quite certain that they will both be strong contenders tomorrow, regardless of the weather.”

Folger and Zarco ready for Argentina GP fight after powering through the rain in qualifying today

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 pair fought against the tricky conditions this afternoon to clinch two solid grid positions for the main event tomorrow. Jonas Folger progressed straight through to Q2 due to his 8th place finish in the combined rankings, and he leapt into action when the qualifying commenced. Ultimately, the young German qualified as the top rookie and he will kick off the sprint from 11th on the grid. Whilst Johann Zarco will launch forward from one row behind his teammate. His personal best from FP2 left him 13th in the overall standings, which put him into the Q1 shootout. Here, he dug deep before posting his quickest lap in the final moments of the super competitive session. The Motul sponsored Argentina Grand Prix will begin at 16:00 local time or 21:00 in central Europe.

Jonas Folger
Position: 11th – Time: 1’49.825 – Laps: 7

“It was a tricky situation today but I did my best and now I am looking forward to the fight tomorrow. In FP4 the conditions were fully wet, yet, the front suspension on my bike was a bit too hard, so we softened it for qualifying. However, then the asphalt started to dry in QP2 and we didn’t have time to change the settings back. In the end, we fitted a new tyre, which put more load on the front, but I was still a bit limited. Nevertheless, I think that we are in a decent position to fight for some good points tomorrow. We made progress from yesterday regarding how the Yamaha handles the bumps at this track so we will see how the pace is on the race bike in warm up, but I am feeling positive and I’m sure we can do a solid job.”

Johann Zarco
Postion: 14th – Time: 1’49.916 – Laps: 8

“For the Argentina Grand Prix I will start from the fifth row of the grid but I am confident and we expect to have a good race tomorrow. Unfortunately, I was not able to get into the top ten in FP2 and then it was not possible to lower the lap time in practice this morning due to the rain. Having said that, the work that we have completed is satisfying and my confidence with the bike is always increasing. I feel good on the track here, and I can control the YZR-M1 well, but I wasn’t in the top ten yesterday afternoon because we didn’t play enough with the tyres and do a quick lap at the right moment. I was a bit unlucky and it’s a shame to not be a bit further up the grid, but I will learn from this. Still, I feel comfortable on my Yamaha and the overall feeling is very positive so let’s see what we can do.”?

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