Changeable weather conditions on qualifying day at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit resulted in a fourth and tenth place starting position for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales pushed hard in today‘s Q2 session at the Twin Ring Motegi track. He will start tomorrow‘s Motul Grand Prix of Japan from fourth place on the grid, having narrowly missed out on the front row. Valentino Rossi showed strong form in a drying FP4 but couldn‘t duplicate the feeling in qualifying and ended the session in tenth position.
Rain in this morning‘s FP3 session meant time and place improvements in the combined free practice rankings were not possible. Because of this, Viñales‘ and Rossi‘s FP2 results saw both of them through to the Q2 session.
Viñales was the last rider to leave pit lane for the 15-minute shoot-out in an effort to use the clear space on track to his advantage on his first hot lap. A tricky moment cost his some time, but he still posted a provisional fifth place. It wasn‘t long before the level was raised and the times dropped. The Spaniard responded by putting in another good lap, for sixth.
He returned to the pits with seven minutes still on the clock. After a two-minute stop, the number-12 rider headed back out, finding himself in ninth position and immediately produced two red sectors and two orange ones to set the second fastest lap so far, a 1 minute 46.090 seconds. There was still time for one last attempt, but the Spaniard couldn‘t make any further improvement. He ended the session in fourth place, 0.327 second from first.
Rossi left the pit box feeling motivated after a P5 result on the drying track in FP4. However, he didn‘t have the same feeling in Q2. He set the sixth fastest lap on his first try but lost some ground as the rider field started to push. Though the Italian was giving it 100% and improved his time on the next two flying laps, he was in 11th place as he returned to pit lane.
After a quick swap of tyres, he was back on his way. He was flashing orange sectors on his next try but ended up in 12th position. It wasn't until his very last lap that he posted a 1 minute 46.558 seconds, 0.795 second from first, which was exactly the same lap time as Aleix Espargaró in ninth place. However, as the Spaniard had set the time one lap earlier, Rossi will start the race from tenth position, on the fourth row.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales was in contention for a podium at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan but ultimately had to settle for fourth place. Valentino Rossi needed a bit of time to get up to speed. He was challenging for a place in the top 10, but a crash four laps before the end cut his race short.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales was pushing for a podium finish during Yamaha's home GP at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. He came close but finished today‘s race in fourth place. Team-mate Valentino Rossi had a difficult start to the Motul Grand Prix of Japan yet continued to show great determination. He fought himself back up the rankings from 14th to 10th, but a small crash on lap 21 ended his challenge.
Viñales started from fourth and held the position coming through the first turn, manoeuvring himself on the inside, but when the pack flicked it left for the next corner, he lost two places. He completed the first lap in seventh but was still close to the riders in front of him, who were all battling for second.
The Spaniard made his way up to sixth on lap 3 and started shadowing Andrea Dovizioso‘s every move. Together they overtook Jack Miller and Franco Morbidelli, with barely any daylight between them. Riding in fourth place, the number-12 rider was clearly pushing for a podium result but wasn't able to put in a move. He took the chequered flag 2.608 seconds from first.
Rossi had a difficult start to the Japanese GP, launching off 10th place on the grid, and completed lap 1 in 14th place. The Italian had his work cut out for him, but he was getting through the task gradually, gaining a position in the next two laps and another one two laps after that.
Now in 12th position, the Doctor put pressure on Pol Espargaró and passed him on lap 8. The next challenge for him was to close a 2.8 seconds gap for a place inside the top 10. By the end of lap 12 he arrived at the back of Danilo Petrucci‘s bike and by lap 15 he started a tug of war for 10th place. The Doctor was in 11th when a sudden small crash in Turn 1 on lap 21 ended his race.
Today's fourth place sees Viñales hold fourth in the championship standings, equalling the point tally of the rider in third place. Rossi now finds himself in seventh place in the overall rankings, 31 points behind his team-mate. Yamaha remains third in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also stay in third place in the team classification.
The team will resume the MotoGP action at the Phillip Island circuit next weekend for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, held from October 25th - 27th
“We had hoped for more in today's race. Maverick lost a few positions on the busy opening lap and it took some time for him to recover them. Looking at the pace he had during the race, it cost him a podium. Anyway, he scored important points that allow him to be a serious contender for third place in the rider standings, which he can continue to fight for next weekend in Australia. Today definitely was worse for Valentino. He was already further down the starting grid than he would have liked, on the fourth row, and on top of that he had a difficult start. Later his race was ended by a small crash in Turn 1, four laps before the chequered flag. Luckily, he was uninjured. It was a weekend to forget for him, but we get to start with a clean slate on Friday at the Phillip Island circuit.”
“Actually, for me it was a very positive race. At the start I did a lot of fighting with Cal and Dovi. I tried to overtake quickly, but it was very difficult. At the end I found a very good rhythm on the last laps, trying to fight for the podium with Dovi, but somehow I couldn't overtake. We made the most of our bike in this race and we'll try to do more in Australia. I will do my best in Phillip Island, I will try to push and start from the front row, I think that's very important. If we had started from first row today, we might have been able to fight for the race. We need to keep working, we're very close, we just need a little bit more, which we'll find for sure. Phillip Island is a track I really like, but anyway I will go there with the same expectations as I had for here, trying to work very hard and to be on the podium again.”
“I had quite a bad start, not in the first corner but after that I was in the middle of the chaos and lost time. My pace wasn‘t good enough to gain positions fast. I managed to recover a few, but I wasn‘t very strong. On some laps my pace wasn‘t so bad, but everybody was fast, so that made it very difficult to challenge from behind. I haven‘t seen the data yet, but I think I made a small mistake at the end, in Turn 1, and I crashed. It was a difficult race.”