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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Secure 8th and 12th in Tough Qatar Qualifying Session

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi secured eighth place this evening during the Qualifying 2 session under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Teammate Maverick Viñales had to battle through Q1 to promote to Q2 and took 12th place on the grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Qatar.

Losail (Qatar), 17th March 2018 – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi rode on the limit this evening during an intense 15-minute qualifying session at the Losail International Circuit, to secure eighth on the grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Qatar. Teammate Maverick Viñales had to take part in Q1 to promote to Q2, and did so expertly. During the second qualifying session he was unable to duplicate the feeling he had on the bike earlier and ended in 12th place.

After displaying a fierce pace in FP4, Rossi was quick to start the 15-minute qualifying shoot-out. He found himself some clear track space on his first hot lap and slotted into fifth place. Now in a rhythm, he dropped under the 1’55 mark on his second try of 1‘54.850s, but it didn‘t help him improve his placement as he dropped to ninth position.

He came in for a fresh set of tyres with a little more than six and a half minutes left on the clock and had another go at a time attack only two minutes later. Eager to move up the ranking order, the Doctor knew he had to squeeze in a final hot lap before time ran out. He clocked a 1’54.389s, that put him in eighth place, 0.709s from pole. Rossi will start tomorrow’s race from the middle of the third row.

Viñales was on a charge in Q1. The Spaniard was unable to improve his time in FP3 due to windy conditions, as blowing sand compromised the grip level of the track. The circumstances meant that he had to take part in Q1, where he had his revenge. The Spaniard was the first rider on the track and he needed little time to put his stamp on the proceedings. His first stint saw him take provisional pole with a benchmark of 1’54.710s. He further improved his time with a 1‘54.637s lap in the final stages, and comfortably promoted to Q2, holding second place.

In Q2 he was sticking to the same strategy. Once again Viñales headed out as soon as the lights in pit lane turned green, but his first fast lap was compromised due to traffic on track and put him in ninth place. His next lap, a 1‘54.745s, saw the number-25 rider move to eighth, before coming back into the pits with slightly less than seven minutes on the clock.

A short time later he was back out to make his mark. He put his head down once more, but wasn‘t able to improve on his time until the very last lap. He posted a 1’54.707s after the chequered flag had come out. However, it wasn‘t enough for him to move up the order. He finished in 12th place, 1.027s from the front, leaving him on the fourth row of the grid.

Tomorrow the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates will be back on track from 14:40 – 15:00 local track time (GMT+3) for the Warm Up session, followed by the race under the floodlights, that starts at 19:00.


For today we expected the track conditions to become better, but they actually got worse during FP3, due to strong wind blowing sand on the track. This didn’t help our case, but we still saw some very solid riding from our riders in FP4. We can take away a lot of positives from that session. Both of them made a step today, though the qualifying didn’t reflect their potential. We expect tomorrow’s event to be packed with action – the competition is really heating up and the opening race usually comes with a lot of nerves and excitement for the riders. We will try to use Warm Up to fine-tune the bikes, but the track conditions will be completely different during the race later in the evening.

The lap time was not too bad, but the position is not fantastic. I hoped that a 1‘54.3s was enough to start from the second row, but unfortunately it wasn‘t. Starting from the third row is more complicated, but it‘s also true that maybe 10 or 12 riders have a very good pace, so that‘s all the people in front of me and also people behind me that are all very strong. I also have a good pace, but it‘s very difficult to understand what will happen tomorrow. Everything will depend on the second half of the race. If the tyres are resistant, you can keep up your pace for 22 laps. During the qualifying I didn‘t feel very well, especially with the rear – I had too much spin. For tomorrow we‘re more worried about the front, because with the best front tyre we are very tight in the last laps. But today is Saturday, tomorrow will be Sunday – maybe we’ll change something.

For sure we boosted our confidence and we can take a lot of information from FP4. I hope that tomorrow we can make another step. I was feeling quite comfortable in FP4, especially during the long run, but we still need to keep working hard to develop, and I will use my riding style a bit more. I think that in the race we can show our potential a lot more than we showed in qualifying. We have tried a new set-up, so I need to gain some more confidence with it. Let’s see tomorrow.

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