Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi have kicked off their 2019 racing campaign today at the Losail International Circuit. They finished in 2nd and 16th place respectively in the combined session times.
Losail (Qatar), 8th March 2019
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were keen to get down to business today during the first two free practice sessions of the VisitQatar Grand Prix. They continued to develop the set-ups they had determined during the Qatar Test a fortnight ago and started the work on making a tyre decision for Sunday's race. The riders finished the day in 2nd and 16th place respectively in the combined results.

Viñales showed a consistent pace early on in FP1 and continued to work systematically on his bike's set-up throughout the session. The end results were very tight, with 16 riders finishing within 0.9s from the fastest time, but the Spaniard focused mainly on cornering. He booked progress throughout the session, making the last lap his fastest thus far. He finished in sixth place with a 1'55.312s lap, 0.264s from the front.

Similar to last year, the pace increased in the evening as the temperatures dropped, so the Spaniard knew he had to put his head down in the second free practice session. He soon took third in the rankings and showed a solid rhythm. At the end of the session, he rode a lap under the 1'54-mark, a 1'53.854s, earning him second place, 0.474s from first.

Rossi put his name forward as one of the top contenders in FP1. He tried a new set-up for his bike in the bright sunshine, resulting in him taking the honours of P1 right at the end of the 45-minute session. His superb 1'55.048s, put him on the top of the timesheets, 0.079s ahead of his closest rival.

The Doctor used the same settings in FP2. However, he wasn't able to improve on his best time from the earlier session. He wrapped up the evening in 17th place with a best time of 1'55.137s, 1.757s from first. He holds 16th place in the combined results, 1.668s from the top, thanks to his FP1 time.
Massimo Meregalli

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

"We started FP1 where we finished the Qatar Test, with a good base set-up. Maverick was able to improve his setting from FP1 to FP2 and he’s very comfortable on the bike, even though we still have some room for improvement on the exit of turn 16. Valentino, on the other hand, tried a different setting at the end of FP1 that gave him the possibility to improve, but most likely due to the different temperature of the tarmac in FP2, this didn’t work well and it affected his time-attack. Tomorrow in FP3 the aim is to get through to Q2, even though we know it will be difficult because of the track conditions in the warm afternoon. Another important aspect is to make a definite decision on the tyre choice for the race, as we’re currently 80% certain."
Maverick Viñales

Maverick Viñales

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

"It was really important to be inside the top-10 today, because the lap times were really fast. I was planning to do two time-attacks, but in the end I only had time to do one. I'm actually really happy about how the bike is working. We still have to improve, we are losing a lot on top-speed, but the bike is getting really great in the corners, so I'm very excited to work even harder tomorrow. We're going to try to make the last corner better, especially in terms of acceleration. We need to improve in that area, let's see if we can do it tomorrow. We now know the potential of our bike and we need to keep working hard."
Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

"It was a strange day because, maybe we aren't as good as this afternoon, but for sure we are not as bad as this evening. This evening, sincerely, we didn't modify the bike very much, but I had a lot of problems with the front tyres because we got out of balance and I suffered very much. I was slow. At the end, the track had a lot grip, so a lot of the top guys improved, and the best lap time is a new record, so they were very fast, but unfortunately it was a difficult practice for me. The big problem is that I'm out of Q2 at the moment. Tomorrow in FP3 maybe the conditions will make it hard to improve my best lap time, so it will be difficult to enter directly into Q2. We have to find a way to be faster."